Q: There have been so many things written these days about lowering LDL and bumping up HDL and I find it confusing. I want to keep to a more natural approach than going to pharmacological pills. I recently heard that 2 glasses of cranberry juice a day will lower LDL better then any other type of supplement, I have been taking Red Yeast Rice but don't like that it could damage my liver (and it makes my brain foggy). Any information you could supply me would be gladly received. -Suzan
A: Reducing LDL cholesterol can be very easy for some and quite challenging for others. Your genes play a role, but of course, lifestyle and diet do as well. Here is some advice: Avoid trans fats as though your life depends on it. Trans fats are a major cause of elevated blood cholesterol (LDL). They're found (or hidden) in baked (cookies, pies, cakes) and breaded goods (such as chicken fingers), processed foods, peanut butter, some cereals, and fast food. Read the labels on all packaging carefully, and avoid any products that list 'partially hydrogenated fats' in the ingredients list – even if the Nutrition Facts panel reads 'Trans fats 0g'. Increase your daily intake of soluble fiber from oats/oatmeal, ground flaxseed, raw nuts/seeds, beans, vegetables, fruit, whole grains. Soluble fibers 'stick' to LDL cholesterol, pulling it out of your body. Make sure you aren't constipated! LDL cholesterol leaves your body via the large intestine. If you're constipated, it re-enters your system, keeping your blood levels of LDL high. At least one large bowel movement a day is critical. Increasing your fiber and water intake will promote healthy bowel motility. Fish and omega-3 fish oil increase HDL, helping to reduce the effects of LDL. Eat fish at least three times a week and take 1,000 mg of fish oil daily. Regular exercise also raises HDL.
Also, you can try the plant extract gugulipid/guggul or the soybean extract nattto, both of which have been shown to reduce overall cholesterol in clinical studies.