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Posted on 02-28-2011

At least 12 million Americans take statin drugs every day to control their high cholesterol.  Statins include well-known medications such as atorvastatin (Lipitor), simvastatin (Zocor), lovastatin (Mevacor), pravastatin (Pravachol), rosuvastatin (Crestor) and others. Lower cost generic versions of many statin medications are available. Obviously changing your diet and increasing exercise need to be the primary action taken by anyone whose blood tests come back with high LDL or triglyceride levels.

I am asked often if there are natural alternatives to these potentially dangerous statin drugs.  Here are my top-6 cholesterol-lowering natural alternatives you should consider (and why).

 #1 Niacin - take 1500-3000 mg daily.  The no-flush "time release" form is an option if you have a reaction to niacin.  Niacin reduced total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol and helps to elevate the good HDL cholesterol.

#2 Red Yeast Rice - take 1200 mg twice daily.  This extract has been shown to reduce total cholesterol levels by 10-32 percent and triglyceride levels by 12-19 percent.  (take CoQ10 when using this product)

#3 Plant Sterols (phytosterols) - take 1000-1500 mg twice daily with meals.  These help inhibit the absorption of cholesterol from food.

#4 Fish Oil - take 2000-3000 mg of combined EPA and DHA (ideally in a 2:1 ratio) to reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels.  Avoid taking fish oil supplements that include Omega-6 fatty acids and use a pure Omega-3 supplement.  You'll also get an anti-inflammatory effect from the right dose of Omega-3s (nice side effect).  Eating fresh fish 2-3 times per week is a great start, but make sure you supplement on days without fish intake.

#5 Garlic - take 300-500 mg of aged garlic twice daily, or make a concerted effort to cook with garlic on a regular basis.

#6 Artichoke extract - take 1000 mg twice daily.  Reduces total cholesterol.

You can find some cholesterol supplements that include many of these all in one capsule.  Make sure you consult your physician before stopping any prescribed medications, and feel free to stop by our office any time to talk about strategies to lower your cholesterol and improve your health.

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