You probably know by now that cholesterol isn’t quite the bogeyman that mainstream medicine makes it out to be. In fact, cholesterol plays some critical roles in your body. For example, it transports fat-soluble nutrients, supports your immune system and it can even help boost your brainpower.
And driving your numbers too low, as can happen with statin drugs, can actually harm your health. It can compromise your immune system and possibly raise your risk for cancer. And this may be especially true for seniors.
In a large analysis of 19 studies, researchers found that in 80 percent of the cases the seniors with higher cholesterol levels outlived the folks with lower numbers. In other words, you shouldn’t be shooting for basement low numbers, but rather maintaining a healthy balance.
Because the true enemy isn’t high cholesterol, it’s oxidation. That’s when smaller LDL particles react with free radicals causing inflammation triggered tissue damage in the linings of your arteries. The result is heart disease, heart attacks and strokes.
Skip the statins and go drug-free instead
If you’re concerned about your cholesterol creeping up and out of the healthy zone, but you don’t want to risk dangerous statin side effects, there are natural options.
These four drug-free cholesterol cures can help you get your numbers back into balance without the meds.
Research has revealed that curcumin, the active ingredient in the spice turmeric, can help lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, preventing oxidation and suppressing the buildup of plaque in your arteries.
In one study, volunteer’s LDL levels plummeted 33 percent after taking 500 mg of curcumin for a week. Their total cholesterol dropped almost 12 points and their HDL (“good”) cholesterol climbed an impressive 29 percent.1
In another study, a low dose of curcumin, 45 mg a day, reduced LDL and total cholesterol levels in patients with acute coronary syndrome, according to research published in the Indonesian Journal of Medicine.2
2. Apple cider vinegar:
Studies have shown that apple cider vinegar can help lower overall cholesterol and triglyceride levels, while raising HDL (“good”) cholesterol at the same time.3,4,5 Apple cider vinegar contains the powerful antioxidant chlorogenic acid, which research has found can help keep LDL cholesterol from oxidizing, slashing your risk for heart problems.6,7,8
3. Dark chocolate:
Dark chocolate is brimming with oxidation battling antioxidants, which give this delicious treat its heart protective powers.9,10,11
In one study, cocoa powder was shown to lead to a significant drop in oxidized LDL levels in a group of guys with high cholesterol. In addition, the chocolate reduced their overall LDL levels and increased their HDL, according to the study published in the Journal of Nutrition.12
Punicic acid, the main fatty acid found in pomegranates, is responsible for most of the delicious fruit’s heart benefits. In one study, a group of folks suffering from both type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol saw substantial improvements in their LDL cholesterol levels when taking pomegranate juice.13
In another four week, double-blind, placebo-controlled study 800 mg of pomegranate seed oil a day significantly reduced triglyceride levels, improving the ratio between triglycerides and HDL levels in the volunteers who all suffered from high cholesterol.14
And several studies have found that pomegranate juice has a protective effect on LDL cholesterol, keeping it from oxidizing and becoming dangerous for your heart.15,16,17,18
1. Effect of oral curcumin administration on serum peroxides and cholesterol levels in human volunteers. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 1992 Oct;36(4):273-5. 1992
2. “The effect of curcumin on lipid level in patients with acute coronary syndrome,” Acta Med Indones. 2008 Oct;40(4):201-10
3. “Dietary acetic acid reduces serum cholesterol and triacylglycerols in rats fed a cholesterol-rich diet,” Br J Nutr. 2006 May;95(5):916-24.
4. “Improvement of obesity and glucose tolerance by acetate in Type 2 diabetic Otsuka Long-Evans Tokushima Fatty (OLETF) rats,” Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2007 May;71(5):1236-43
5. Vinegar intake reduces body weight, body fat mass, and serum triglyceride levels in obese Japanese subjects, Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2009 Aug;73(8):1837-43
6. “Reactivity of dietary phenolic acids with peroxyl radicals: antioxidant activity upon low density lipoprotein peroxidation,” Biochem Pharmacol. 1994 Aug 3;48(3):487-94.
7. “Effects of chlorogenic acid and bovine serum albumin on the oxidative stability of low density lipoproteins in vitro,” J Agric Food Chem. 2010 May 12;58(9):5828-33. doi: 10.1021/jf100106e.
8. “Functional Properties of Vinegar,” Concise Reviews in Food Science, First published: 8 May 2014
9. “Effects of cocoa powder and dark chocolate on LDL oxidative susceptibility and prostaglandin concentrations in humans,” Am J Clin Nutr. 2001 Nov;74(5):596-602
10. “Epicatechin in Human Plasma: In Vivo Determination and Effect of Chocolate Consumption on Plasma Oxidation Status,” J. Nutr. August 1, 2000, vol. 130 no. 8 2109S-2114S
11. “Daily cocoa intake reduces the susceptibility of low-density lipoprotein to oxidation as demonstrated in healthy human volunteers,” Free Radical Research, Volume 34, 2001 – Issue 1
12. “Plasma LDL and HDL cholesterol and oxidized LDL concentrations are altered in normo- and hypercholesterolemic humans after intake of different levels of cocoa powder,” J Nutr. 2007 Jun;137(6):1436-41
13. “Cholesterol-lowering effect of concentrated pomegranate juice consumption in type II diabetic patients with hyperlipidemia,” Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2006 May;76(3):147-51
14. “Effect of pomegranate seed oil on hyperlipidaemic subjects: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial,” Br J Nutr. 2010 Aug;104(3):402-6
15. “The effect of pomegranate extract on coronary artery atherosclerosis in SR-BI/APOE double knockout,” Atherosclerosis. 2013 May;228(1):80-9
16. “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 Jun;23(3):423-33
17. “Pomegranate juice supplementation to atherosclerotic mice reduces macrophage lipid peroxidation, cellular cholesterol accumulation and development of atherosclerosis,” J Nutr. 2001 Aug;131(8):2082-9.
18. “Pomegranate juice consumption reduces oxidative stress, atherogenic modifications to LDL, and platelet aggregation: studies in humans and in atherosclerotic apolipoprotein E-deficient mice,” Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 May;71(5):1062-76
She is an advocate of self-education and is passionate about the power of group knowledge sharing, like the kind found right here on HealthierTalk.com. Alice loves to share her views on holistic and natural healing as well as her, sometimes contentious, thoughts on the profit-driven inner workings of traditional medicine.
Follow Alice and HealthierTalk on Twitter and Facebook.