Soluble fibre benefits heart health by lowering bad cholesterol  |  Photo Credit: iStock Images
- Those battling a persistent high (LDL) cholesterol problem are often put on statins by their doctors.
- Though there is no denying that statins are life-savers, it is also a fact that your body can benefit of you manage to use natural elements to lower cholesterol levels.
- Here’s a herb that is also a supplement that helps to lower the levels of cholesterol that your body absorbs.
Don’t eat ghee, don’t eat butter, don’t eat cheese. Too much advice on the regimen to control or reduce levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as “bad cholesterol,” are a series of the ban on certain foods we relish.
We are aware that high levels of LDL and not enough levels of HDL (good cholesterol) that moderates the LDL are major risk factors for heart disease and stroke.
One thing that is inescapable if you wish to fight LDL – bad cholesterol well is that you must visit your doctor regularly and heed her/his advice. The need to implement the regimen of cholesterol-lowering drugs and healthy changes in lifestyle – as may have been made by the doctor – is imperative.
But beyond the medicines, ask your doctor about what herbs and supplements with “cholesterol-lowering” properties are available to you as support to your medicines and changes to lifestyle.
In an article in VeryWellHealth.com, author Cathy Wong explains why cholesterol is such a health concern and which herbs and supplements may help lower “bad” cholesterol and raise “good” cholesterol. It also looks at other ways to reduce high cholesterol and your overall risk of heart disease.
Is all cholesterol bad for you?
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says some types of cholesterol are essential for good health. Your body needs cholesterol to perform important jobs, such as making hormones and building cells. Cholesterol travels through the blood on proteins called lipoproteins. Two types of lipoproteins carry cholesterol throughout the body:
- LDL (low-density lipoprotein), sometimes called “bad” cholesterol, makes up most of your body’s cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol raise your risk for heart disease and stroke.
- HDL (high-density lipoprotein), or “good” cholesterol, carries cholesterol back to the liver. The liver then flushes it from the body. High levels of HDL cholesterol can lower your risk for heart disease and stroke.
When your body has too much LDL cholesterol, it can build up in the walls of your blood vessels, forming plaque that causes the insides of the blood circulation pipeline to clog up. Any impediments or restrictions in the blood flow to the heart can lead to heart attacks or strokes.
So how much cholesterol in the blood is Too High?
Total cholesterol is the sum of two types of cholesterol, in addition to other lipids:
- LDL cholesterol is over 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL)
- HDL cholesterol is under 60 mg/dL
- Total cholesterol is over 200 mg/dL
Supplements and Herbal Remedies
Some people use herbs and supplements to help lower their “bad” LDL cholesterol and raise their “good” HDL cholesterols, either on their own or with medications prescribed by their doctor. While many of these natural remedies are not well supported by research, there are exceptions.
Among the supplements with some proven benefits are niacin, soluble fibre, Omega-3, and phytosterols (plant-extract sterols and stanols).
- Niacin (Vitamin B3) — also called nicotinic acid, is used to lower cholesterol. It appears that niacin lowers LDL cholesterol and triglycerides and simultaneously raises the level of “good” HDL cholesterol in the blood. Though Niacin is available in prescription form and as a dietary supplement. The American Heart Association cautions patients to only use the prescription form of niacin for lowering cholesterol. The reason why one should not self-medicate on Niacin is that it interferes with the effect of high blood pressure medication. It also may cause nausea, indigestion, gas, diarrhoea, or gout. It can worsen peptic ulcers, and trigger liver inflammation or high blood sugar.
- Soluble Fibre: Soluble fibre in food– in comparison — appears safer and therefore ask your doctor about prescribing it if right for you. It gives the result in lowering the bad LDL cholesterol by reducing the amount of cholesterol that is absorbed in the intestines. According to the Mayo Clinic (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/cholesterol/art-20045192), soluble fibre can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. Five to 10 grams or more of soluble fibre a day decreases your LDL cholesterol. One serving of breakfast cereal with oatmeal or oat bran provides 3 to 4 grams of fibre. If you add fruit, such as a banana or berries, you’ll get even more fibre. Soluble fibre is also found in such foods as kidney beans, Brussels sprouts, apples and pears. But check with your doctor as certain foods can mess with the working of your cholesterol drugs.
- Fish and omega-3 fatty acids: Fatty fish has high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce your triglycerides — says the Mayo Clinic report. What are triglycerides? This is a type of fat found in the blood. Though Omega-3 fatty acids don’t affect LDL cholesterol levels, consuming Omega-3-rich foods helps reduce your blood pressure and risk of developing blood clots while also sponging off the triglycerides, research shows. In people who have already had heart attacks, omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of sudden death. The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings of fish a week. But won’t greasy methods of cooking fish make it a worse diet for one’s high cholesterol-afflicted body? Baking or grilling the fish avoids adding unhealthy fats, suggests Mayo Clinic.
- PHYTOSTEROLS — Sterols and stanols: Sterols and stanols are substances found in plants that help block the absorption of cholesterol. In countries such as the US, foods that have been fortified with sterols or stanols are available. There are kinds of margarine and orange juice with added plant sterols that can help reduce LDL cholesterol. Adding 2 grams of sterol to your diet every day can lower your LDL cholesterol by 5 to 15 per cent, says Mayo Clinic. Ask your doctor about similar options available in the region or country that you reside in.
Harvard report explains why fibre is so good for us:
Harvard Health cites a recent research study published in The Lancet wherein investigators pooled the results from 243 studies looking at health effects of dietary fibre. This study was all about the fibre one gets from eating natural food. Fibre from supplements was not a part of this study.
Analysing data of over 4,600 people, researchers found a very strong relationship between higher dietary fibre intake and better health outcomes. Basically, intake of at least 25 grams of food fibre a day is associated with a lower weight, blood pressure, blood sugars, cholesterol, as well as a lower risk of developing (or dying from) diabetes, heart disease, strokes, and breast or colon cancer. Unfortunately, most of us are consuming fewer than 20 grams of fibre per day, the Harvard report notes. One must include carbs in whole grains, beans, and fruit, so as not to miss out on all that healthy fibre. Be sure to add whole grains, beans, and vegetables to your daily or weekly thrice diet.
Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a professional healthcare provider if you have any specific questions about any medical matter.