What Supplements Lower Cholesterol Levels? 


When you’ve been diagnosed with high cholesterol or triglycerides, and your doctor says to improve your diet, that’s easier said than done. It’s hard to know if your food is helping or hurting you.

To add to the frustration, all these myths about supplements are floating around. Maybe you need vitamin D3? Maybe it’s garlic that will save your heart? 

Or will supplementing calcium lower your cholesterol? Who knows! And then there are thousands of products on the shelf – how exactly do you decide what to buy?

We got this covered. Let us help you pick out supplements that really help lower triglycerides and cholesterol and improve heart health. 

Check out our simple guide on cholesterol and triglycerides with supplements.

  • Red Yeast Rice

Red Yeast Rice is an ancient Chinese remedy commonly prescribed by Chinese doctors that have proven its efficacy in lowering cholesterol levels. It’s as effective as statins, prescribed by western doctors.

To make red yeast rice, manufacturers ferment cooked rice kernels with Monascaceae, which is a type of mold that produces monacolin K. Monacolin K is an active compound that inhibits an enzyme necessary to synthesize cholesterol in the body.  

According to a 2019 review, consuming red yeast rice with monacolin K lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol plasma levels. It can cause a 15% to 25% reduction in LDL cholesterol within 6-8 weeks. 

Additionally, the review indicated that 3 to 10 mg daily consumption of monacolin minimizes the health risks compared to statins. The paper suggested that the red yeast rice has no side effects like muscle aches that are common to statins. 

Nevertheless, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not allow retailers to sell red yeast rice supplements and products exceeding trace levels of monacolin. Moreover, FDA runs disclaimers that red yeast rice can lead to kidney impairments as it causes severe muscle issues in people. 

Besides, red yeast rice is bioidentical to Mevacor, a lovastatin drug. Due to this, red yeast rice can interact with certain medications. According to the FDA, this list of drugs includes some antibiotics, fungal infection medicines, HIV drugs, and the antidepressant nefazodone. 

Not only red yeast rice, but these medications can also interact with other cholesterol-lowering drugs. According to NCCIH, 4 of 11 red yeast dietary supplements are likely to contain citrinin. Citrinin is a toxic compound that may lead to kidney failure or genetic damage. 

Red yeast rice is contraindicated for breastfeeding, pregnant women, and people using statins. Also, you should always check with your physician before using supplements if you are taking other medications. 

  • Phytosterol

Phytosterols are the term specific for plant stanols and sterols; some foods contain these naturally. Supplement manufacturers offer phytosterols in tablets and supplements to reduce total cholesterol levels. 

A 2013 review concluded that consuming 1-3 grams of phytosterols twice or thrice a day for four to six weeks lowered low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in subjects by 12 mg per deciliter. 

Furthermore, NCCIH considers phytosterols to be safe for healthy individuals. However, if people with sitosterolemia use phytosterols at high levels, it can increase the risk of atherosclerosis. 

  • Niacin 

Nicotinic acid or niacin is a form of vitamin B with potent cholesterol-lowering effects. Niacin occurs naturally in some foods but is available in two types as niacin supplements. These include nicotinamide and nicotinic acid. Nicotinic acid is often prescribed to treat high LDL cholesterol.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), nicotinic acid acts by limiting the formation of fats in the liver. As a result, the levels of triglycerides and LDL cholesterol drop. 

Contrastingly, the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) states that while niacin helps lower LDL cholesterol, it does not promise a reduction in cardiovascular risks. 

Prescription-strength nicotinic acid exceeds the recommended daily allowance by 100 times. Therefore, individuals should take it with a doctor’s approval and under strict supervision. 

  • Flaxseed

According to a 2017 paper, flaxseed supplementations lowered LDL cholesterol levels by 15% in subjects with peripheral artery disease. The study spanned over 1-month of monitoring, and the results of flaxseed on LDL cholesterol were significant. 

Furthermore, researchers stated that flaxseed and statins combination offers an additional reduction in cholesterol levels as studied in participants. 

Another research on Japanese men showed that daily 10 g flaxseed oil lowered LDL cholesterol to 25.8% at 4 weeks. At 12 weeks, that result indicated a 21.2% reduction.

Flaxseed supplements come in many forms. These include oils, ground seeds, and capsules. However, you should not take these supplements without your doctor’s advice as they can react with medications.  

On that note, NCCIH warns that flaxseed is not good for pregnant women as it may alter hormone levels in the body. Furthermore, you should be well hydrated when using flaxseed supplements as it may result in diarrhea or constipation. 

  • Beta-Glucans

Certain plants contain specific types of fibers called beta-glucans. Mushrooms, barley, and oats are some examples. Studies demonstrate that these fibers help reduce LDL and total blood cholesterol levels. 

A 2018 review study shows that beta-glucans are far more effective than statins. It is because these fibers promote the balancing of cholesterol molecules contrary to simple inhibition of cholesterol synthesizing enzymes. 

However, there is a need for more research to study the effects of beta-glucans on cholesterol levels in depth.

  • Psyllium

Psyllium is an excellent source of soluble fiber that can help lower LDL cholesterol levels in the blood and excrete it via bowls. A 2017 review study concluded that consuming an average daily dose of 10 g of psyllium can lower LDL cholesterol by 6-24% and total cholesterol by 2-20%.

The researchers mentioned that one should add fiber supplements in his routine gradually. It is because sudden high doses of soluble fiber lead to side effects, including cramping and bloating. Furthermore, if you are taking any medication or facing any direct or indirect digestive ailment, do not take fiber products without consulting a doctor. 

  • Fish Oil Supplements

Triglyceride levels in your body are linked with cholesterol. Therefore, doctors often check triglyceride levels when testing an individual’s cholesterol. 

If your body has surplus energy, it stores the energy in triglycerides. Triglycerides are the most common fat in the human body that stores excess energy and releases it in metabolism. 

Hypertriglyceridemia or high triglyceride level is one of the cardiovascular risk factors. It can lead to cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. Additionally, the disease risks are high when a person has high triglyceride levels, more amounts of LDL, and low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.

A 2018 review concluded that omega-3 fatty acids supplements might assist in managing cardiovascular risks. This study shows that omega-3 fatty acids can help lower inflammation and triglyceride levels. 

Omega-3 fatty acids are available in supplements. Besides, you can get an adequate dose of omega-3 fatty acid by eating oily fish. Usually, fish oil supplements contain omega-3 derived from the fish liver, while many plant-based options are made from algae. 

Note that fish oil supplements can interact with certain medications, including warfarin. Therefore, you should act upon your doctor’s advice. 

  • Green Tea

A 2020 review of 31 trials indicated that green tea has potential LDL and total cholesterol-lowering capabilities. The study was conducted on people with moderate and overweight subjects. 

Catechins are the main active compounds in green tea. These active molecules help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. However, there is a need for further research on the topic. 

You can buy supplements containing green tea extracts in different forms. Green tea tablets and green tea powders are available in the market. However, since green tea has caffeine, you should be mindful of its doses as it can aggravate your sensitivity. 

  • Berberine

Berberine has thousands of years of usage history in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Chinese have been using berberine for various medical conditions, from hypertension to type 2 diabetes. 

According to recent evidence, berberine has potent properties to manage healthy cholesterol levels. Most research on berberine demonstrated that it effectively lowers LDL cholesterol by 20-50 mg/dL. Also, it significantly impacts triglyceride levels and reduces them to 22-55 mg/dL.

Without any combination with other medicines, berberine provides an average 20-30% reduction in LDL cholesterol. It is comparable with the results of statin therapy, leading to proven LDL reduction by 30-50%. 

Berberine supplements are the best cholesterol-lowering supplement for people with statin medication intolerance. However, people should take the supplements only on their doctor’s advice.

  • Garlic 

Although the research is limited, there is enough evidence to show the cholesterol-lowering properties of garlic. Allicin is the bioactive compound in garlic that helps in lowering cholesterol levels.

Besides, allicin’s cholesterol-lowering benefits lead to further reported benefits such as better immunity, antioxidant properties, and reduction in blood pressure. Researchers state that allicin blocks the production of a bad form of LDL cholesterol in the liver. 

A 2013 review study demonstrated that daily consumption of garlic reduced LDL and total cholesterol but had minimal effects on HDL cholesterol levels. 

People can use garlic in many forms as fresh, powders, extracts, oils, and freeze-dried. Also, a variety of dietary garlic supplements are purchasable. However, the consensus on which form and dose deliver the best cholesterol-lowering benefits is still unclear.


High cholesterol is a health condition that everybody needs to be aware of. It blocks arteries strongly and forcefully pushes blood through them. This means the heart has to beat as hard to move blood around the body, a leading cause of heart attacks.

Unfortunately, having high low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels is the second leading cause of heart disease in America. Driven by the high levels of saturated fats in our diet, nearly 1 in every 5 deaths can be linked to high cholesterol.

Therefore, you must take care of your health in every possible way. Apart from medicines and supplements, some alternatives considerably affect LDL cholesterol levels.  

Healthy Diet

Eating a balanced diet paves your way to a healthy life with minimal disease risks. Furthermore, limiting the amount of total saturated fats in your diet can be beneficial in lowering cholesterol. 

Saturated fats are harmful to your body as they increase the production of bad cholesterol (LDL). If you consume high levels of saturated fat in your diet, you are more at risk of developing hypertriglyceridemia and hypercholesterolemia. 

Dairy, red meat, deep-fried and processed food, and chocolate contain high amounts of saturated fats. Therefore, you need to consume a healthy diet to minimize saturated fat usage, ultimately lowering LDL cholesterol. 


Exercising helps boost good cholesterol (HDL) levels in the blood. The American Health Association suggests that adults do 75 minutes of intense aerobic or moderate-intensity activity for at least 150 minutes per week. 

Prescription Medicines

Many prescription medications are available to lower cholesterol levels in the blood. These are statins, PCSK9 inhibitors, bile acid sequestrants, cholesterol absorption inhibitors, and adenosine triphosphate-citrate lyase (ACL) inhibitors.

Although these prescription medications lower LDL cholesterol levels, the treatment choice depends on the patient. Therefore, you must speak with your physician if you are concerned about your cholesterol levels. 

Risks and Side Effects

Note that supplements can interact with certain medications and lead to adverse effects. The FDA does not regulate the majority of the supplements available in the market. Therefore, you should consult your doctor or healthcare provider before picking any supplement on your own. It is especially important if you have other medical conditions and are receiving treatment. 

Moreover, pregnant and breastfeeding women should be wary of using these supplements as they can alter hormone levels. 

What Supplements Can Lower Your Cholesterol?

After a lifetime of eating the standard American diet, most people with hypertriglyceridemia and hypercholesterolemia have digestive problems that slow the absorption of vitamins and minerals. This is why they are more prone to pellagra, scurvy, rickets, osteomalacia, osteoporosis, vitamin B12 deficiency, and pernicious anemia, besides cardiovascular diseases. 

Remember, if you’re taking medications to lower cholesterol or triglycerides, you may need higher doses of certain vitamins like folate (folic acid) and niacin. However, always consult your physician before you decide on consuming any cholesterol-lowering supplements.


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