fbc_garlicOver 102 million adults in the United States have high cholesterol and are spending about $14 billion per year on medications such as Lipitor to lower it. Many doctors are quick to prescribe statin drugs, but they can come with a far heftier price to pay than money: serious or even fatal side effects. A key element that is often missing when these drugs are prescribed is addressing the cause of a person’s high cholesterol in the first place.

The way statins work is by preventing an enzyme in your liver from producing cholesterol, but the problem is you can’t mess with one bodily function and not expect to interfere with the whole system. According to Mercola.com, taking cholesterol drugs can cause liver problems, risk of polyneuropathy (nerve damage), muscle soreness, cognitive deficiency, risk of cancer, weakened immune system, dizziness, and depression.

Despite the fact that it has become a bad word, cholesterol is actually essential for good health as just about every cell in our body both produces and needs it. Myelin, a fatty substance made up of 20 percent cholesterol, encases every single nerve cell and provides nourishment for our brain. So when you prohibit the body from producing cholesterol, you put your brain function at risk.

Cholesterol is made up of a waxy material that contains proteins and lipids (fats). It is produced in the liver and then transported by molecules called lipoproteins into the bloodstream to different areas of the body. High-density lipoproteins (HDL, or “good” cholesterol) carry fat from cells to the liver, while low-density lipoproteins (LDL, or “bad” cholesterol) carry oxidized cholesterol from the liver to cells. Natural fat is made up primarily of a substance called a triglyceride, and high levels of this in the blood indicate potential heart disease and diabetes.

Healthy cholesterol levels:

  • Total cholesterol – 200 mg/dl or lower
  • HDL (good) – 50 mg/dl or higher
  • LDL (bad) – 130 mg/dl or lower
  • Triglycerides – 150 mg/dl or lower
  • Triglycerides/HDL ratio – 4 or lower

The most important factor when assessing your risk of coronary artery disease is the ratio of triglycerides to HDL cholesterol. To get this figure, just divide your triglyceride number by your HDL number. A healthy ratio is four or lower.

Now that you have a better understanding of the role that cholesterol plays in the body, here are ten ways to naturally lower your cholesterol (that is, lower LDL and increase HDL) without the risks that come with statin drugs:

  1. Coenzyme Q10 supports healthy HDL and prevents LDL oxidation. 30-90 mg daily.
  2. L-carnitine has been shown to increase HDL cholesterol and inhibit the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. 250-1,000 mg daily.
  3. Garlic reduces total cholesterol and LDL. 4 fresh, crushed cloves daily or 6,000 mcg allicin (garlic’s key enzyme) daily. Note: garlic thins the blood, so don’t overdo it if you are on a blood thinner
  4. Fiber helps decrease LDL cholesterol levels, and studies show that it can also lower blood pressure and inflammation. 38 g (men), 25 g (women).
  5. Probiotics lower LDL and total cholesterol by converting it into a less absorbable version in the gut so that it can be eliminated more efficiently. 1-2 capsules daily.
  6. Milk Thistle is an antioxidant specifically aimed at detoxifying the liver, which regulates cholesterol levels in the body. 70-200 mg daily.
  7. Pantethine raises HDL and reduces total cholesterol, LDL, and triglycerides. 400-900 mg daily.
  8. Fish oil lowers triglycerides and elevates HDL, as well as supports heart health. 2,000-3,000 mg daily.
  9. Low-carbohydrate, low-sugar die. Studies show that a low-carb / low-sugar, and not a low-fat, diet is generally more effective in lowering the triglyceride/HDL ratio.
  10. Exercise. According to WebMd, “exercise stimulates enzymes that help move LDL from the blood (and blood-vessel walls) to the liver. From there, the cholesterol is converted into bile (for digestion) or excreted. So the more you exercise, the more LDL your body expels.”

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