test tube labelled Cholesterol
Dr. Michael Newman, DNM., Ph.D., HHP.
Dr. Michael Newman, DNM., Ph.D., HHP.
January 8, 2024 ·  11 min read

How to Help Lower Cholesterol Without Medication

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in every cell in your body that is required to maintain good health. When it is in the right amount, your body uses it to produce hormones and vitamin D while assisting digestion. However, too much cholesterol can pose a problem. At unhealthy levels, cholesterol can lead to high blood cholesterol (BLOOD CHOLESTEROL, 2022). 

Cholesterol comes from two key sources: your liver, which manufactures all the cholesterol you need, and dietary animal sources, such as meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products. These nutritional sources are typically higher in dietary fats: saturated and trans fats, which comprise the rest of the cholesterol in the body. These dietary fats can cause your liver to produce more cholesterol than needed. An overconsumption of animal products high in saturated fats from unhealthy eating patterns, combined with the genes you inherit from your parents, can lead some people to elevated harmful cholesterol levels (Lordan et al., 2018).   

Types of Cholesterol Levels 

There are two main types of cholesterol in your blood that the lipoproteins carry and also subgroups of LDL cholesterol levels:

  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), sometimes called “bad” cholesterol.
  • High-density lipoprotein (HDL), sometimes called “good” cholesterol.

Low-density Lipoprotein (LDL) levels.

Too much LDL cholesterol in your blood increases significant health risks, namely coronary artery diseases and other heart diseases. At the same time, high LDL levels can cause the buildup of a sticky substance called plaque in your arteries. Over an extended period, this plaque build-up can narrow the arteries or entirely block them, leading to three different risk scenarios (What Is a Cholesterol Test?, n.d.):

  1. If the blood flow to the heart is blocked, it can cause a heart attack.
  2. If the blood flow to the brain is blocked, it can cause a stroke.
  3. If the blood flow to the arms or legs is blocked, it can cause peripheral artery disease.

Very low-density Lipoprotein (VLDL) levels.

Very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) is another “bad” cholesterol type. This form of VLDL levels isn’t usually part of a regular cholesterol test because it’s hard to measure. Approximately half of VLDL levels are triglycerides, so your VLDL level is estimated as a percentage of your triglyceride level (Huang & Lee, 2022).

High-density Lipoprotein (HDL) levels. 

HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol is occasionally called “good” cholesterol. It absorbs cholesterol in the bloodstream and carries it back to the liver, which disposes of it from the body. Higher HDL cholesterol levels can reduce your risk for heart disease and strokes (Toth, 2003). 

Read: Gut Bacteria Linked to Cardiovascular, Other Health Conditions

Staying Proactive by using the 3 C’s can help reduce your Risk Factors  

When it comes to cholesterol, remember the 3 C’s: check, change and control (BLOOD CHOLESTEROL, 2022). That is:

  • Check your cholesterol levels. Knowing your numbers and staying proactive will allow your physician the ability to assess your risk.
  • Changing your diet and lifestyle by taking a preventative stance can help improve your levels.
  • Controlling your cholesterol, with help from your physician, dietitian or healthcare provider if needed, can prevent coronary heart disease and any future heart attack or stroke risk.  

Conventional Drug-based Therapies – Some Pros and Cons

Conventional medicine approaches to high cholesterol levels are combated with statin drugs. Statin drugs are a lipid-lowering class that are the best-studied medications for lowering LDL cholesterol (LDL-C) levels. They are the most effective drugs for prevention of heart attack, strokes, and coronary heart disease, which can lead to death. Statin types of drugs are considered the first line of drugs for treating lipid disorders, with studies showing they can lower LDL-C levels by as much as 60% (Feingold, 2021).

Read: Harvard nutritionist shares No. 1 vitamin for brain health

The Pros for Statin Drugs

The obvious advantage of using statin drugs is that they have a potent lipid-lowering effect that can reduce cardiovascular risk and decrease mortality (Pinal-Fernandez et al., 2018).

The Con’s for Statin Drugs

With all prescription drugs, there are always some disadvantages to consider. The drawback of using statin drugs is that they may have some adverse side effects associated with them; some effects include increased risk of diabetes, musculoskeletal issues, and hemorrhagic stroke. Although studies have shown that the frequency of adverse effects of the use of statin drugs is low in a selected population group, the benefits of statins considerably outweigh the potential risks (Pinal-Fernandez et al., 2018).

A Holistic Approach to Managing Your High LDL-C Levels

It should be noted that I strongly urge you, before making any lifestyle changes, including diet and or implementing a natural supplements approach, to consult with your doctor and healthcare provider. They can make recommendations and instruct you on how you can do it safely without putting yourself in ‘harms’ way while offering support during this transition. 

Read: 12 Ways Pomegranate Supports Cardiovascular Health

Lifestyle Changes and Diet When Dealing with High Cholesterol  

Specific Diets for General Cardio Vascular Health and Cholesterol Management


Lifestyle modifications, including a healthy diet (DASH) (Sacks et al., 2001). The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) was introduced in 1997. The National Institute of Health’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute created and promoted the DASH diet for reducing blood pressure. It is a healthy eating plan designed to help treat or prevent high blood pressure. It helps people manage their total sodium intake in their diet while promoting staying active through physical activity. (Eckel et al., 2014).

Ornish Diet

In addition to the DASH diet, studies show that the Dean Ornish–style diet, commonly referred to as the Ornish diet, is considered the gold standard for lowering LDL cholesterol levels. This vegetarian diet consists of fruits, vegetables, soybean products, nonfat milk, and yogurt with no oils or animal products and has been shown very positive results for the users. The set back to this diet is it is very strict, which most users find challenging to adhere to (Rosenthal, 2000). Weight reduction is another important lifestyle change that needs to be considered to help reduce and manage LDL cholesterol levels (Stefanick et al., 1998) (Dudum et al., 2019).   

Portfolio Diet

The Portfolio Diet is an evidence-based diet that focuses on adding foods instead of omitting them. These include:

  • Nuts (45g a day)
  • Plant Protein (50g a day)
  • Viscous (sticky) Fiber
  • Plant Sterols (2g a day)

Together, these can help reduce blood cholesterol by up to 30%.

Keep Reading: Experts Say You Should Add This To Your Coffee Every Day To Keep Your Heart Healthy And Prevent Disease

Evidence-Based Supplements to Combat High LDL-C 

High cholesterol is noted throughout this article as a major health risk for cardiovascular disorders that requires a significant lifestyle (diet and staying active) and, in some cases, pharmaceutical medication treatment of lipid-lowering drugs. However, there has seen a growing interest in understanding how a natural holistic approach can assist in managing high cholesterol levels through dietary supplements (Magno et al., 2018).

Garlic – dried garlic or fresh garlic.

Garlic has been marketed as a cholesterol-lowering agent. However, because it is not a licensed medication, there is insufficient evidence to recommend garlic therapy as an effective lipid-lowering agent. However, there is no evidence to suggest it is harmful. The current available data support the likelihood of garlic therapy being beneficial over a short period (Silagy & Neil, 1994).

Product: Natural Factors Garlic Rich Garlic+Reishi. 

As used in herbal medicine, GarlicRich® Super Strength Garlic + Reishi from Natural Factors supports the immune system and helps maintain cardiovascular health courtesy of a 10:1 garlic concentrate and 30:1 organic reishi mushroom extract for adaptogenic support. Each capsule provides the full spectrum of active garlic compounds in a delayed-release format to help reduce garlic breath. Used in herbal medicine to help reduce elevated blood lipid levels (hyperlipidemia) in adults.

Dietary Soluble Fibers

Various soluble fibers are associated with a small but significant total and LDL cholesterol reduction. The effects on individual plasma lipids from digesting soluble fiber from oats, psyllium, or pectin were shown to not be significantly different. Increasing soluble fiber can contribute to dietary therapy in the assistance of lower cholesterol (Brown et al., 1999).

Product: NOW Psyllium Husks Whole

Studies have shown psyllium may help to lower total, as well as LDL “bad” cholesterol levels, which may help reduce the risk of heart disease.


Phytosterols are naturally occurring compounds found in plants that are very similar in structure to cholesterol, which can help safely lower cholesterol levels. It is found in unrefined plant oil, like vegetable, walnut and olive oil. Also found in soybeans, flaxseed, almonds, pistachios, and sunflower seeds. It has been shown that ingesting these sterols can decrease cholesterol levels by interfering with cholesterol absorption (Rosenthal, 2000).

Product: New Roots Herbal Plant Sterols

Plant Sterols help in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels and in reducing low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and total cholesterol. New Roots Herbal Plant Sterols are a non-GMO source of sterols which help inhibit the absorption of harmful low-density lipoproteins (LDL cholesterol). Plant sterols form the cell walls of plants and are similar in molecular structure and function to cholesterol. They actively compete with animal cholesterol for absorption sites within the intestine and block their absorption. Plant Sterols can be used safely with other cholesterol-lowering products for additional results.

Niacin (B3)

Niacin, a B-vitamin (B3), has been shown to help raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL) “good” cholesterol by more than 30% while helping to lower triglycerides by 25%. However, be aware that some individuals who also take cholesterol medications have shown little additional benefit while experiencing a state of discomfort (Žák, 2015). 

Product: NOW Niacin Inositol Hexanicotinate – Flush Free

Vitamin B3, also known as niacin, is a member of the water-soluble B complex family of vitamins. Niacin supports the cardiovascular system by positively affecting cholesterol levels by reducing LDL and triglycerides while raising levels of HDL – the good cholesterol. Inositol by itself is also used therapeutically to reduce cholesterol.

Takeaway: Anyone considering discontinuing their statin medication to try a more holistic approach should consult with their doctor first. Coming off any prescription drugs can be dangerous. Your doctor will guide you with proper dosing, combining a statin with other cholesterol-lowering agents, or switching you to another prescription medication.

Keep Reading: 7 Health Benefits of Avocado Oil


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    Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is for information only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition and/or current medication. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking advice or treatment because of something you have read here.