It’s riskier for your heart and brain to function normally if your blood has a lot of Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol than if it doesn’t. And that’s why maintaining a good cholesterol level is so important.

Statins are medications designed to reduce LDL cholesterol and may be prescribed by your doctor if you have high cholesterol. Your doctor may also recommend alterations to your daily diet and activity plan. Incorporating cholesterol lowering supplements into your diet is another excellent option.

What Is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol, a fatty or waxy molecule made by the liver and present in every cell, plays an essential role in metabolic processes. It plays a role in the formation and function of cell membranes and is a precursor to other compounds, such as hormones (such as estrogen) and bile salts-which aid digestion.

However, elevated cholesterol levels, particularly increased amounts of LDL cholesterol, increase the likelihood that you may develop coronary artery disease.

High cholesterol, also known as dyslipidemia or hypercholesterolemia, can be caused by some variables, including genetics, sex, age, lifestyle choices like diet and activity, or even race.

Types Of Cholesterol

There are mainly two categories of cholesterol:

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL)– also known as “bad” cholesterol. That’s because it adds to the formation of plaque, the fatty, cholesterol- and calcium-laden substance that clogs arteries and causes heart attacks and strokes. Interruptions in blood flow are an early indicator of a potential cardiovascular emergency, such as a stroke or a heart attack.

Image alt text: cholesterol lowering supplements. Diagrammatic illustration of cholesterol types and functions.

Author credit: By Spevyy – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

High-density lipoprotein (HDL)– is also known as good cholesterol because it lowers the risk of heart disease. HDL’s role is to transport some of the bad cholesterol and transport it away from the coronary arteries and into the liver, where it may be processed and eliminated. A higher Lipoprotein level is preferable as lower levels are associated with an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease.

Triglycerides: They’re a form of blood fats that the body may break down and use for fuel. Triglycerides are not the same as cholesterol, but they can raise the likelihood of heart disease alongside low high-density lipoprotein or high LDL cholesterol.

While the body requires some cholesterol, having too much of it, especially the low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or the “bad” cholesterol, can be harmful.

What Causes High Cholesterol Levels?

Some reasons for high cholesterol are under your control, such as your lifestyle choices, while others like genetics, are beyond your influence.

Genetics or Hereditary Traits

Specific mutations can impact the body’s capacity to absorb LDL cholesterol in the genome. For instance, those with a certain genetic abnormality, familial hypercholesterolemia, may have dangerously high amounts of LDL.

The risk of developing cardiovascular disease increases in people with this elevated cholesterol. If high cholesterol runs in your family, it may be a sign that your risk factors are the same as those of your predecessors.

Sedentary or Inactive Lifestyle

Studies link reduced levels of HDL cholesterol to inactivity. If your HDL levels are low, less good cholesterol will be produced to flush out the bad cholesterol in your arteries.

You may also have high cholesterol due to the following:

  • Stress: High amounts of the stress hormone cortisol cause the liver to produce more cholesterol.
  • A nutritional plan: LDL cholesterol levels rise when you eat a lot of saturated fat (found in animal products, including meat and dairy) and trans fat.
  • Addictive behaviors like smoking or binge drinking: These practices decrease your good cholesterol while increasing the LDL cholesterol.
  • Medications: Some drugs, like beta blockers or steroids, have the unintended side effect of increasing LDL cholesterol or decreasing HDL cholesterol.
  • Medical conditions: High cholesterol levels can be a sign of a health problem, and illnesses like diabetes and obesity can have a detrimental effect.

Signs You Have High Cholesterol

High cholesterol levels are a silent killer since there are so few indicators that something is wrong. There are a few physical manifestations of excessively high cholesterol, especially when it is hypercholesterolemia- hereditary


This is the swelling of the subcutaneous fat tissue. The size of these lumps varies; they can be up to three inches in diameter and appear anywhere on the body, including your hands, arms, elbows, buttocks, or even feet.

Corneus Arcus

This is when cholesterol deposits form a ring around the cornea that might be white, gray, or blue. There’s also a chance you’re perceiving a rainbow effect in your eye or having two different eye colors.

Examining Cholesterol Levels

A simple blood test called a lipid panel can determine your cholesterol levels. If your doctor suspects that your cholesterol levels are too high, or during a routine checkup, they may recommend that you take this test.

A blood test may require you to fast (go without food for at least 12 hours before being tested). A lipid panel can help assess the LDL, HDL, and triglycerides.

Why It’s Important To Have A Healthy Level Of Cholesterol

Cholesterol can be made in the body but can also be present in some foods. Optimal health requires maintaining cholesterol levels within a healthy range.

Hormones and vitamin D require cholesterol for synthesis. However, plaque, a buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries, can be triggered by elevated LDL cholesterol, eventually leading to blockage. High cholesterol can increase the risk of cardiovascular problems like stroke and heart attack if untreated.

How Can You Manage High Cholesterol?

High cholesterol can have a variety of causes, and your doctor may recommend medication or lifestyle modifications based on the specific causes.

Here are some of the best ways to help treat your cholesterol concerns:

Heart-healthy Diet

A person is what they consume. As a result, what you eat can harm you or promote your general health through the correct diet. Diet and exercise are two lifestyle changes that can help reduce high cholesterol. Reduce the amount of saturated fat in your diet; this unhealthy fat should account for 6% or less of your daily calorie intake.

So, you must avoid or limit your intake of fat and saturated foods like:

  • Fat milk
  • Red meat
  • Hot dogs
  • Tropical oils
  • Fast meals

You can, however, improve your heart health and cholesterol health by focusing on a healthy diet like:

  • Whole grains
  • Vegetables and fruits
  • Legumes,
  • Heart-healthy fats like olive oil

Image alt text: cholesterol lowering supplements. A cholesterol lowering awareness banner.

Author credit: By National Library of Medicine – History of Medicine –, No restrictions,

Also, you can increase your consumption of soluble fiber as they lessen the amount of cholesterol absorbed by the digestive system.

Stay Active or Get Moving

The good cholesterol, known as HDL, is increased with exercise and is responsible for clearing out the arteries of excess fat. Thus, decreasing your levels of bad LDL cholesterol, which builds up in your arteries and aid in achieving or maintaining a healthy weight.

Manage Your Weight

Inadequate cholesterol levels are linked to being overweight or obese. Even a modest weight loss can make a big difference in your LDL and HDL levels if you’re overweight.

Quit Smoking

The harmful LDL cholesterol in your body becomes more “sticky” due to smoking, causing it to more easily attach to the inside of your arterial walls and cause blockages.

Tobacco use raises the risk of cardiovascular disease because it contains substances that constrict blood vessels and increase blood levels of “bad” cholesterol. When you smoke, your body has a more difficult time getting rid of LDL, the bad cholesterol that can build up in your arteries and cause blockages.

Which Cholesterol Lowering Supplements Are Most Effective?

Cholesterol levels can be kept within a reasonable range by following a healthy cardio lifestyle that includes a nutritious diet, regular exercise, stress management, adequate sleep, no smoking, and moderate alcohol use.

Naturally, modifying one’s lifestyle is the best first line of protection against high cholesterol. Still, if your doctor determines that medication is necessary, they may suggest several drugs and cholesterol lowering supplements.

The FDA defines a dietary supplement as an orally consumed product with nutrients added to the diet. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not evaluate the safety or efficacy of supplements because they are not considered pharmaceuticals. Before starting any new supplement regimen, you should talk to your doctor.

Here are some of the supplements to consider:

Red Yeast Rice

Traditional Chinese cuisine frequently incorporates the nutritional supplement red yeast rice. The yeast may produce a compound known as monacolin K, though that depends on the cultivation method used.

Among the monacolins, monacolin K is thought to be the most effective molecule at reducing plasma cholesterol. LDL cholesterol can be lowered by 15%-25% in around two months using red yeast rice extract. There is a correlation between monacolin K dosage and results.

However, some worry that consuming red yeast rice harms their health. For instance, Citrinin, a contaminant discovered in certain red yeast rice supplements, is linked to kidney failure in some users. Muscle soreness, weakness, and breakdown are all potential side effects of red yeast rice products, much like they are with lovastatin.

Also, numerous medication interactions involving red yeast rice are possible. Red yeast rice may have a detrimental interaction with certain medications, including other cholesterol lowering supplements or drugs, antibiotics, and HIV therapies.  

Good news: the FDA has set limits on how much monacolin K can be included in red yeast commodities. They can have a negligible quantity of monacolin K in them. If there were more than that, it would no longer be considered a supplement but an unapproved drug by the FDA.

Take a Lot of Soluble Fiber

Consuming sufficient levels of fiber may aid in cholesterol management when combined with a healthy diet. Besides, there is some evidence that supplementing with soluble fibers like psyllium can help decrease cholesterol levels.

Fruits and vegetables, for instance, are good sources of soluble fiber, but they are also available in supplement forms. When combined with water, soluble fiber produces a gel that helps to move food through the digestive system more slowly.

Soluble fibers bind to dietary cholesterol, allowing it to be eliminated in feces rather than absorbed by the body. Additionally, soluble fiber decreases the rate at which the stomach empties after eating, enhances satiety, and decreases hepatic cholesterol synthesis.

There are various forms of soluble fiber. Supplemental psyllium has been demonstrated to lower LDL levels by about 7%. Soluble fiber supplements are suggested as a potential strategy; however, their efficacy is not universally agreed upon.

Regarding potential side effects, increased fiber consumption can produce some moderate digestive system discomfort. Psyllium is a soluble fiber supplement that acts primarily as a laxative. In most cases, there are no adverse reactions between medications.


Besides lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, garlic is often regarded as one of the earliest dietary supplements for its purported health benefits. Raw, cooked, or ground garlic are all valid preparation methods. Additionally, garlic oils can be pressed and used for culinary purposes.

Most of the available data supports garlic’s ability to reduce cholesterol levels, and there is some evidence that garlic helps reduce LDL levels (by as much as 10%). At the same time, it does not appear to affect HDL levels.

The effects of garlic may vary with age, gender, and other factors. Different supplement types and dosages will have varying impacts.

One potential downside is that garlic’s potent odor may put off some people. Sometimes, it might lead to bad breath or a musty body odor. Others may also have an upset tummy, or even other digestive difficulties could occur for certain persons.

An allergy to garlic is another possibility. When combined with a blood thinner, garlic supplements may raise the bleeding risk. That said, consult your doctor about the best cholesterol supplements that would work for you.

Taking Omega-3 Fatty Acids/Fish Oil

Omega-3 acids found in fish have been shown to reduce bad LDL cholesterol while raising good HDL cholesterol. Because of this, dietary supplements are now available in the form of fish oil pellets. You can buy krill and fish or liver oil in liquid form (the same as cooking oil) and use it as flavorings or nutritional supplements.

Individuals may benefit from lowered triglyceride levels after taking large omega-3 fatty acids. In one study, researchers examined the effects of fish oil pills vs. eating fish regularly.

Lower levels of non-HDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglycerides were seen in both groups. Although all groups improved, those who included fish in their diets had more benefits than those who took supplements. 

In most cases, getting your fish oil from food rather than pills works better. The Food and Drug Administration does not govern fish oil supplements; thus, the oils and dosages might vary substantially.

Although some people may notice a bad aftertaste or stomachache after taking fish oil, for the most part, it is well tolerated. A seafood or shellfish allergy should see their doctor before ingesting any potentially allergenic meal.

Fish oils may interact with blood-thinning drugs or other prescriptions that impact blood clotting. Therefore, discuss any cholesterol lowering supplements you are considering with your practitioner beforehand.


In traditional Chinese medicine, berberine is utilized as a dietary supplement. It’s a consumable material that’s derived from goldenseal and other plants. While getting some of the benefits of goldenseal by taking a supplement is possible, the amount of berberine your body absorbs will be low.

It can help lower the LDL and triglyceride levels. However, the precise mechanism through which berberine exerts its effects within the body remains unclear. Consequences typically affect the digestive system, resulting in constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal distention.

Less Promising Cholesterol Lowering Supplements

Some supplements that previous studies revealed could help reduce cholesterol were analyzed, and several were deemed ineffective at reducing cholesterol and may be dangerous.

Here are some of the cholesterol lowering supplements that you must watch out for or even avoid:

  • Policosanols: Alcohols derived from sugarcane waxes. They have a good safety profile and can reduce lipids, but more studies are required to confirm their efficacy.
  • Acid linoleic with a conjugated double bond: This is produced using the milk and fat of specific animals. There is evidence that it impairs blood vessel function.
  • Silymarin: Milk thistle seeds are the source of this. The body does not absorb it well; thus, more research into its potential dangers is required.

Keep in mind that the FDA won’t investigate supplement companies’ claims. If you are using any medications or dietary supplements, your healthcare staff must know this.


Severe health problems like stroke and heart disease are linked to high cholesterol. Reducing your risk for these devastating outcomes may necessitate your healthcare practitioner recommending multiple strategies for controlling your cholesterol levels.

Although several dietary supplements have shown some promise for lowering cholesterol, reliable evidence of their safety and efficacy is often hard to come by. Remember that makers of cholesterol lowering supplements are not obligated to provide proof that their products work.

Talk with your doctor about the vitamins, drugs, and treatments you’re currently using. Prescription drugs may be recommended to treat cholesterol problems if lifestyle changes and natural remedies are insufficient.