Cholesterol is a fatty-like substance that travels around in your blood and cell membranes. It is required to help protect the integrity of your cells and their fluidity, as well as the myelin sheath that covers them. The liver also converts cholesterol to product bile, which is essential to absorb and digest fat molecules and fat-soluble vitamins such as Vitamins A, D, E & K. Cholesterol is also required to make certain types of hormones such as Estrogen & Testosterone. Cholesterol and fats use particles called "lipoprotein particles" as their method of transportation around the body.
There are two main types of "Lipoprotein."
- Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL)- often referred to as "bad" cholesterol- carries cholesterol from the liver to the cells
- High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL)- often referred to as "good" cholesterol-returns excess cholesterol to the liver where it is disposed of.
LDL is often referred to as the "bad" cholesterol because it facilitates the fatty particles entering the bloodstream. In contrast, HDL removes them from the blood. The entire process is expected and required for life. The process becomes flawed and leads to illness and disease when there is more LDL going in than HDL going out. And the sticky substance starts to clump (forms a material called plaque) and begins to close in on arteries making blood vessels more constricted. As arteries and blood vessels become more constricted, blood flow becomes compromised, reducing blood flow and oxygen to the heart, brain and other organs.
Who is at Risk?
- A diet high in the wrong types of fat, sugars, refined carbohydrates and low in fibre, fruits, and veggies can cause an increase in "LDL" and slow down the removal process of "HDL."
- An increase in weight often plays a role, placing an extra strain on the body's organs.
- Sedentary Lifestyle: If you are inactive, the process of removing excess unused cholesterol slows, which can cause the LDL to stay stagnant and start to form plaques, while an active lifestyle helps to keep plaque from developing.
- Age and Gender: As the body ages, cholesterol levels (both types) tend to rise.
- Heredity: To some extent, your genes will determine how your body manufactures, stores, and removes cholesterol. This does not say that you will have heart disease, only that you may have to work harder to ensure your cholesterol levels remain in sync.
- Medical conditions and medications, both of which may elevate cholesterol levels in your blood negatively.
Staying Heart Smart with Natural Cholesterol Supplements
Many risk factors that lead to high cholesterol can be managed. Start with the obvious and adopt better lifestyle habits by reducing high sugar diets, increasing physical activity, and decreasing tobacco smoke use. Adopt a Heart health food program by increasing your fibre intake. More fibre includes organic fresh fruit, vegetables and healthy whole grains. Fibre reduces appetite and helps remove unwanted cholesterols from the digestive system and regulate blood glucose levels. If you cannot achieve your daily fibre requirements, consider supplements such as Natural Factors Organic Reliefibre. Organic Reliefibre Low FODMAP is a source of soluble fibre not only helps gastrointestinal functions. Soluble fibre helps block the absorption of fats and cholesterol in your small intestine, preventing them from entering the bloodstream. Soluble fibres also slow the absorption of sugars from the intestines and reduce LDL cholesterol.
Sytrinol is a patented formula supplement derived from natural citrus and palm fruit extracts. Human clinical trials (over 12 years of research) have shown that Sytrinol improves total cholesterol by 30%, lowers LDL cholesterol by 27%, and reduces triglycerides by 34% (compared to a placebo). Sytrinol has also been shown to increase HDL levels. The recommended dosage used in the studies is 150 mg of Sytrinol twice a day. Look for Sytrinol in brands such as Dr. Gifford Jones Sytrinol.
Another emerging supplement for balancing good cholesterol is Dr. Gifford Jones Medi-C Plus (which comes in capsules and powder). This unique product combines Vitamin C and Lysine, two natural ingredients that can help reduce atherosclerosis when combined. L-Lysine, an amino acid, adds strength to the coronary arteries (like steel rods used in concrete to increase their strength). Vitamin C is required for the manufacture of collagen, which serves as the "glue" that holds cells together – just like mortar is needed for bricks.
The supplement Niacin is often associated with increasing circulation and lowering blood pressure. Still, it is well researched and should be considered a heart-healthy supplement for cholesterol management.
Niacin (Vitamin B3) can increase your good cholesterol HDL and lower triglycerides but tends to work only in higher dosages (250 mg twice a day or 500 mg once a day). Taking niacin in higher dosages can cause flushing, itching, and possible headaches, which why the alternative option would be supplements such as Natural Factors Niacin Inositol Hexanicotinate. (niacin no flush). Inositol nicotinate more slowly releases niacin, or vitamin B3, when processed by the body, reducing some of the regular niacin effects.
Using garlic as an addition to your diet can enhance the Nitric Oxide signals in your body. Garlic has a blood pressure-lowering effect and an excellent way to boost your immune system. Several studies have indicated that garlic can inhibit specific enzymes involved in the synthesis of cholesterol and fatty acids. The unwanted lingering taste and smell of garlic may be off-putting to some, which deter garlic use in everyday cooking. However, there are supplement options such as Natural Factors GarlicRich . GarlicRich is made from the whole bulb, and each odourless softgel is equal to eight cloves of garlic! Natural Factors new Super Strength Garlic and Reishi provided not only cardiovascular health but supports the immune system.
Managing blood sugar is also a critical aspect of preventing heart disease and lower cholesterol. Berberine is one of the most versatile and effective supplements for lower blood sugar, but Berberine, for reasons not yet understood, can also increase the number of LDL receptors in the liver, helping clear cholesterol from the body. Berberine also acts similar to phytosterols by blocking the absorption of lipids in the small intestine.
Omega 3 fish oils (1000-2000 mg per day) can effectively increase your good HDL cholesterol and help decrease the rate at which the liver produces triglycerides. And CoQ10 Ubiquinol (200-300 milligrams daily) is useful in lowering cholesterol levels by removing excess cholesterol.
The take away is awareness and prevention through the foods you eat and with the addition of supplements to augment what your diet is lacking. Know our risks and take preventative action. The supplements mentioned above may interact with prescribed medications. It is imperative that you review each supplement and its possible interactions before you start a supplement regime.