Nutritional supplements to lower cholesterol cannot entirely replace heart healthy food but they may augment the diet to help achieve patient goals
With our modern, fast-paced and high-stress lifestyle that often emphasizes poor diet and little physical activity, it’s no wonder that the rate of cases for high cholesterol have dramatically risen over the last several decades. Your patients may be looking toward supplements to lower cholesterol, so let’s take a closer look at some statistics regarding the prevalence of high cholesterol in the U.S., as well as some of the research into supplements that may help your patients bring their numbers down into the healthy range.
High cholesterol stats
From 2015-18, almost 12% of adults ages 20 and older had total cholesterol levels higher than 240 mg/dL, and 17% had high density lipoprotein (HDL, or good) cholesterol levels less than 40 mg/dL, according to the American Heart Association.
Another report from the American Heart Association states than almost 94 million adults in the U.S. have total cholesterol levels higher than 200 mg/dL, while 28 million adults have total cholesterol levels higher than 240 mg/dL.
In addition, only slightly more than half (54% or approximately 47 million) of U.S. adults with high cholesterol levels are currently taking medication to address the issue.1-3
Soy products and supplements to lower cholesterol
There has been some promising research to show that soy food products and supplements may help lower cholesterol.
A 2015 meta-analysis in the British Journal of Nutrition reported on the pooled findings of 35 smaller studies comparing the efficacy of soy food products versus soy supplements. Soy food products produced a significant reduction in LDL (low density lipoprotein, or bad) cholesterol levels, as well as a significant increase in HDL levels.
Furthermore, there was a greater reduction in LDL cholesterol levels with soy food products, such as soybeans and nuts, when compared to supplements to lower cholesterol.4
Garlic and cholesterol
Garlic has been shown to help reduce cholesterol levels if taken regularly over time.
A 2016 meta-analysis article from the journal Nutrition reported on the pooled findings of 39 study trials that involved 2,300 subjects, all of whom had taken garlic for at least two weeks. In comparing these trials, the researchers found garlic to be effective in reducing both total and LDL cholesterol levels by 10%, if taken for more than two months.5
Oats and oat bran
Similar to garlic, oats and oat bran can also reduce cholesterol. A 2014 meta-analysis article, also from the British Journal of Nutrition discussed the effect of oats and oat bran on cholesterol levels. More than half of the studies showed a significant reduction in total cholesterol, ranging from 2-19%, associated with taking oats or oat bran. A similar number of studies showed reductions in LDL, ranging from 4-23%.6
In addition to soy protein and garlic, Healthline reports that other products and supplements to lower cholesterol include the B vitamin niacin, soluble fiber and psyllium supplements, red yeast rice, ginger and flax seed.
Following a heart healthy wellness lifestyle is beneficial for all your patients – even those who may not have high cholesterol levels. Although nutritional supplements to lower cholesterol cannot entirely replace heart healthy food, they may augment the diet to help lower cholesterol.
- Virani SS, Alonso A, Aparicio HJ, et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics – 2021 update: A report from the American Heart Association. 2021;143:e254-e743.
- Starks MA, Schmicker RH, Peterson ED, et al. Association of neighborhood demographics with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest treatment and outcomes, where you live may matter.JAMA Cardiology. 2017;2(10):1110-1118.
- Virani SS, Alonso A, Benjamin EJ, et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics – 2020 update: A report from the American Heart Association. 2020;141(9):e139-e596.
- Tokede OA, Onabanjo TA, Yansane A, et al. Soya products and serum lipids: A meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. British Journal of Nutrition. 2015 Sep 28;114(6):831-843.
- Ried K. Garlic lowers blood pressure in hypertensive individuals, regulates serum cholesterol, and stimulates immunity: An updated meta-analysis and review. Journal of Nutrition. 2016 Feb;146(2):389S-396S.
- Thies F, Masson LF, Boffetta P, Kris-Etherton P. Oats and CVD risk markers: A systematic literature review. British Journal of Nutrition. 2014;112 Suppl 2:S19-S30.