Reducing Cholesterol Naturally


Reducing Cholesterol Naturally

Almost 50% of American adults have total cholesterol levels above 200 mg/dL, placing them at risk for cardiovascular disease–elevated cholesterol is one of the most important risk factors for heart disease.1 Elevated cholesterol is also associated with increased risk of several cancers.2

A high nutrient diet is by far the most effective method of reducing cholesterol while avoiding side effects. A dietary intervention study using my recommended eating style found that LDL cholesterol was reduced by 33% in just 6 weeks. Similar six-week interventions using low-fat vegetarian, Mediterranean, or other diets have not been nearly as effective.3-6

Statin drugs are also not as effective for reducing cholesterol as an excellent diet coupled with exercise. After six weeks of taking cholesterol-lowering statin medications, cholesterol levels decreased by 26% – almost as much as a high nutrient diet, but statins have harmful side effects compared to the healthful side effects of a high nutrient diet.7   Statins are associated with liver dysfunction, acute renal failure, cataracts, diabetes, and impaired muscle function.8 In contrast, not only will a high nutrient diet lower cholesterol, it will also decrease heart disease risk by improving other factors such glucose levels, blood pressure, and body weight.

The safest and healthiest strategy for reducing cholesterol starts with a high nutrient, vegetable-based diet with plenty of raw and cooked green and non-starchy vegetables.9,10 In addition, follow these guidelines for healthful cholesterol levels:

  • Eat berries and pomegranates. The antioxidants in berries and pomegranates, such as anthocyanins and punicalagin, are especially effective in improving both LDL and HDL cholesterol.11,12

  • Avoid processed foods and fast food. These foods are calorie-dense, nutrient-poor foods that promote weight gain. Furthermore, refined carbohydrates and trans fats – common ingredients in processed foods – are known to increase heart disease risk dramatically.13,14

  • Eat at least one ounce of raw nuts and seeds daily. Nuts not only reduce total and LDL cholesterol, but also aid in weight control, reduce the glycemic load of the diet, and reduce heart disease risk by 35% when eaten regularly. Nuts and seeds have a variety of heart healthy nutrients, including plant sterols, antioxidants, minerals, and arginine.15-18

  • Limit your intake of animal protein to at most 6 ounces per week. If you have heart disease or significantly high cholesterol, avoid animal products altogether. Animal protein consumption directly increases heart disease risk.19

  • Eat beans daily. Beans are packed with resistant starch, soluble fiber, and phytochemicals which help to lower cholesterol – a pooled analysis of 10 trials found that consuming beans regularly significantly reduces total and LDL cholesterol.20 Plus, a 19-year study found that people who eat beans at least four times a week have a 22% lower risk of heart disease than those who eat them less than once a week.21

  • Have 1 Tbsp. of ground flaxseed each day. Flaxseeds contain beneficial omega-3 fats, lignans, flavonoids, sterols, and fiber. Clinical trials show that daily flaxseed consumption reduces total cholesterol by 6-11%.22

–Joel Fuhrman


1. Roger VL, Go AS, Lloyd-Jones DM, et al: Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics–2012 Update: A Report From the American Heart Association. Circulation 2012;125:e2-e220.
2. Hu J, La Vecchia C, de Groh M, et al: Dietary cholesterol intake and cancer. Ann Oncol 2012;23:491-500.
3. Bemelmans WJ, Broer J, de Vries JH, et al: Impact of Mediterranean diet education versus posted leaflet on dietary habits and serum cholesterol in a high risk population for cardiovascular disease. Public Health Nutr 2000;3:273-283.
4. Bunyard LB, Dennis KE, Nicklas BJ: Dietary intake and changes in lipoprotein lipids in obese, postmenopausal women placed on an American Heart Association Step 1 diet. J Am Diet Assoc 2002;102:52-57.
5. Sharman MJ, Kraemer WJ, Love DM, et al: A ketogenic diet favorably affects serum biomarkers for cardiovascular d isease in normal-weight men. J Nutr 2002;132:1879-1885.
6. Barnard ND, Scialli AR, Bertron P, et al: Effectiveness of a low-fat vegetarian diet in altering serum lipids in healthy premenopausal women. Am J Cardiol 2000;85:969-972.
7. Frolkis JP, Pearce GL, Nambi V, et al: Statins do not meet expectations for lowering low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels when used in clinical practice. Am J Med 2002;113:625-629.
8. Hippisley-Cox J, Coupland C: Unintended effects of statins in men and women in England and Wales: population based cohort study using the QResearch database. BMJ 2010;340:c2197.
9. Zhang X, Shu XO, Xiang YB, et al: Cruciferous vegetable consumption is associated with a reduced risk of total and cardiovascular disease mortality. Am J Clin Nutr 2011;94:240-246.
10. Bazzano LA, He J, Ogden LG, et al: Fruit and vegetable intake and risk of cardiovascular disease in US adults: the first National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey Epidemiologic Follow-up Study. Am J Clin Nutr 2002;76:93-99.
11. Qin Y, Xia M, Ma J, et al: Anthocyanin supplementation improves serum LDL- and HDL-cholesterol concentrations associated with the inhibition of cholesteryl ester transfer protein in dyslipidemic subjects. Am J Clin Nutr 2009;90:485-492.
12. Aviram M, Rosenblat M, Gaitini D, et al: Pomegranate juice consumption for 3 years by patients with carotid artery stenosis reduces common carotid intima-media thickness, blood pressure and LDL oxidation. Clin Nutr 2004;23:423-433.
13. Mozaffarian D, Aro A, Willett WC: Health effects of trans-fatty acids: experimental and observational evidence. Eur J Clin Nutr 2009;63 Suppl 2:S5-21.
14. Sieri S, Krogh V, Berrino F, et al: Dietary glycemic load and index and risk of coronary heart disease in a large italian cohort: the EPICOR study. Arch Intern Med 2010;170:640-647. 15. Sabate J, Oda K, Ros E: Nut consumption and blood lipid levels: a pooled analysis of 25 intervention trials. Arch Intern Med 2010;170:821-827.





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