Supplement for Reducing Cholesterol?
Q. If I were to take one natural supplement to lower my cholesterol, which one should it be?
Before you take any drug or supplement, I would recommend that you try to bring your cholesterol under control with a low-fat diet and daily exercise (at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity). These changes are essential to any cholesterol-lowering program, no matter what supplement or drug you take. That said, if I were to choose only one of the many supplements available to lower cholesterol, my pick would be Cholestin. It's a natural product with a long history of traditional use as a nutraceutical in China.
Cholestin comes from a strain of red yeast (Monascus) that is used as a natural flavoring and food coloring in Chinese cooking. The active component, lovastatin, is also the key ingredient in Mevacor, a FDA-approved cholesterol drug available by prescription. (The FDA is trying to ban Cholestin as an unapproved drug, but so far its manufacturer, Pharmanex Inc., has prevailed in court.)
I believe that Cholestin is safer than its pharmaceutical counterparts. Pharmanex cites 17 clinical studies done in China to support its claims that Cholestin lowers cholesterol. The supplement is intended for healthy men and postmenopausal women with moderately elevated cholesterol -- 200 to 239 mg/dl -- who are willing to follow a regular exercise program and a healthy, low-fat diet. However, if your cholesterol is 240 or higher, take Cholestin only under a doctor's supervision.
Other supplements and foods that may help lower your cholesterol are garlic, vitamin B3 (Niacin), and soy protein. Guggulipid and pycnogenol have some cholesterol-lowering properties, too -- but none of these comes close to Cholestin in effectiveness. You should also make some dietary changes, such as drinking green tea and eating more soluble fiber (oat bran), foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, sardines, walnuts), and leafy greens and fresh fruits.