Lowering Cholesterol naturally - British Heart Fou...

British Heart Foundation

30,377 members19,813 posts

Lowering Cholesterol naturally

Loxm profile image

I am taking daily statins to lover my cholesterol and advised that I will need to take them for life. My lifestyle has completely changed, wholefood vegetarian diet, regular exercise, very moderate alcohol, weight loss......My question is is it possible for me to naturally reduce my cholesterol to a degree where statins are no longer required and am I able to test my cholesterol levels outside of visiting my GP?

71 Replies

I've heard some people claim to reduce their cholesterol via diet, but I'm pretty sceptical. The body makes it's own cholesterol so reducing ingested cholesterol makes a marginal difference at best. But for most people statins absolutely smash their LDL cholesterol levels, virtually halving it in many cases, so there's really no contest!

You can have private lipid (cholesterol) tests done, they're widely available and not too expensive. But if you've had a "heart incident" then you should also get an annual cardiac check up by your GP or the practise nurse, this will include lipid tests, HaB1c tests, a basic ECG, blood pressure, pulse, weight check, etc.

Good luck!

My views on cholesterol and diet differ from mainstream advice, with a few marked exceptions. It is healthy to have a high HDL/Triglyceride ratio - increase your HDL and decrease your triglycerides. On a standard cholesterol panel, these are the only two numbers that have been directly and accurately measured.

I would recommend searching in YouTube for "The cholesterol conundrum" by Ivor Cummins. This gives a great insight into what cholesterol is, the different types, and its functions within the body. By the end of it you will know more about cholesterol than most doctors and it will enable you to take your own decisions about what is best for you and improving your health. Ivor Cummins does not have a monopoly on the information he presents, but I find he has a way of presenting it that makes it easy to understand and digest.

Abbeyman2 profile image
Abbeyman2 in reply to Supafil

I tend to be more in your camp. I've just had 3 stents fitted but had researched statins long before my heart attack. I think Dr. Paul Mason and Dr. Nadir Ali give good advice and I always try to follow the science and not the money. Not all LDL is bad.

BongoBaggins profile image
BongoBaggins in reply to Supafil

OP, don't start ignoring 'mainstream advice' and youtubing medical advice.

Supafil profile image
Supafil in reply to BongoBaggins

Of course. Just do what your doctor says, even if you know they are wrong. Don't do any research, remain ignorant. See how well that serves you.

BongoBaggins profile image
BongoBaggins in reply to Supafil

Look mate, doctors saved my life. Youtube didn't.

Supafil profile image
Supafil in reply to BongoBaggins

Good for you 'mate'. Don't forget to keep clapping.

Andrew1971 profile image
Andrew1971 in reply to Supafil

Is that the same Ivor Cummins who claimed UK had reached Herd immunity back in March 2020?

Loxm profile image
Loxm in reply to BongoBaggins

To be fair I didn't get that from Supafils reply. I agree that we should listen to our medical professionals and take their advice but also think that we should be as informed as we could possibly be about our own health and the truth of the matter is that GP's are often so overwhelmed that they dont have time to consider the specific medical needs of individuals and pills are sometimes the easiest and most straightforward option. My GP immediately prescribed statins, no discussion about lifestyle or dietry changes and exercise and when I asked how long I would have to stay on the pill I was told possibly for life! is this really the only real option!

Supafil profile image
Supafil in reply to Loxm

You echo my thoughts. When it comes to statins the official guidance (with noted exceptions) is they should only be tried once dietary and lifestyle interventions have failed.

My view is use your doctor as and when you need, but a little bit of research about your own medical conditions is a sensible thing to do, and it won't take much effort to know more about the specifics than your GP has the luxury to know. My doctor listens, when I tell him what I know he appreciates it and Google's it himself while I'm sat there!

If more people took time to understand their own health, there would be less load on the NHS. Everybody wins.

jon22 profile image
jon22 in reply to Loxm

Neither did I from Supafils reply.

jon22 profile image
jon22 in reply to Supafil

Agree.

Midwalesgirl profile image
Midwalesgirl in reply to Supafil

i also hold the same "non mainstream" view, and think Ivor Cummins's video's are fantastic

Supafil profile image
Supafil in reply to Midwalesgirl

Changed my life (and diet).

Midwalesgirl profile image
Midwalesgirl in reply to Supafil

i was already awake before i found him. sure you also heard of Dr Malcolm Kendrick and Dr Aseem Malhotra, both written books on statins?

Supafil profile image
Supafil in reply to Midwalesgirl

I have, Dr Malhotra very vocal at the moment. I also like the work from Dr Zoe Harcombe, she has a great presenting style.

Midwalesgirl profile image
Midwalesgirl in reply to Supafil

snap! seems like we have done the same kind of research. have you read Aseems latest book?

Supafil profile image
Supafil in reply to Midwalesgirl

Not yet as I have a lot going on at the moment, but it's on my list. I wish more would open their eyes.

Midwalesgirl profile image
Midwalesgirl in reply to Supafil

another example of "big pharma" i'm afraid. my lipid specialist asked me about 7-8 year ago whether i would consider being an ambassador for Heart UK. i felt flattered at the time. now my eyes are open i'm sure they wouldnt want me 😂i have two daughters and one has tested positive for the faulty gene that causes FH. i owe it not only to myself but also to my daughter to look at ALL sides and come to my own conclusions, however unpopular they might at first look.

i took statins from age 25 until 55. i had never given side effects any thought. Until my official FH diagnosis i believed what the doctor told me. My joint pains which i had for years blamed on age related arthritis, disappeared entirely within two weeks.

Midwalesgirl profile image
Midwalesgirl in reply to Supafil

cholesterol is not the bad guy. the only benefit of statins for people with cardiac issues, is the anti-inflammatory and anti clotting properties

jon22 profile image
jon22 in reply to Supafil

Agree. Thanks for the You Tube video.

Milkfairy profile image
MilkfairyHeart Star

You may find the information on this charity helpful

heartuk.org.uk/

The BHF website has loads of evidence based information too.

The Mediterranean diet along with other life style changes can help reduce the risks of heart disease.

Statins can play their part too.

Good luck, I hope you find a way that works for you with a good quality of life.

Your changed diet and increased exercise will probably have made a difference to your background cholesterol levels but everyone is different, so some people will be able to alter things more than others. My own experience is that diet and exercise changed my levels by about 10% - which isn't much at all. I needed statins to help.....but I then found I wasn't very responsive to statins. So I'm now taking atorvastatin and ezetimibe (which works in a different way to statins). This combination really had a positive impact on my levels. Luckily I had a helpful GP who allowed me to have 4 lipid analyses over the period of a year, while we experimented with different medication.

I'm looking foward to hearing what Ivor Cummins has to say about all this (as suggested by Supafil above). He's new to me. I'm a biochemist so I will study his opinions with an open scientific mind.

Statins do more than lowering cholesterol, also low cholesterol has nothing to do with removing plaque from arteries. Diet changes help, plus exercise, but what has taken years to produce, it's not a quick fix. Take care. Moni

Midwalesgirl profile image
Midwalesgirl in reply to MONIREN

agreed

Diet, exercise and lifestyle have very little effect on cholesterol levels. The best you’ll get is a 10% reduction. If you really want to reduce cholesterol levels statins are the only really effective answer.

Curlyman83 profile image
Curlyman83 in reply to Mentdent

There are alternatives to statins. Notwithstanding statins are a magnificent drug for most people

Supafil profile image
Supafil in reply to Mentdent

I changed my cholesterol levels by 50% with diet.

leach234 profile image
leach234 in reply to Supafil

You must have eaten horribly for that decrease.

Supafil profile image
Supafil in reply to leach234

It didn't go down. It went up 50% once I changed my diet. This coincided with reducing my BMI from 30 to 22, body fat from 35% to 20% and blood pressure down considerably to around 110/70 unmedicated. Many health markers improved except for my total cholesterol. Yet I was told by the NHS nutritionist that the best I could hope for by a change in diet is a 10% move. This was the same nutritionist who told me (wrongly) that when you eat less your stomach shrinks and you stop getting hungry.

I'm not concerned about my LDL or total cholesterol number.

Curlyman83 profile image
Curlyman83 in reply to Supafil

It’s amazing what some nutritionists believe to be healthy. I was told to eat low fat yoghurts that were packed with sugar 😮

Supafil profile image
Supafil in reply to Curlyman83

When you examine official guidance it doesn't hold up to scrutiny and is full of contradictions. Nuts are good but loaded with saturated fat, avoid sugar but eat lots of fruit, avoid processed food but use vegetable seed oils, eat mackerel but avoid animal fats, to name but a few.

Curlyman83 profile image
Curlyman83 in reply to Supafil

I use extra virgin olive oil for everything, try to avoid processed foods (easier said than done) and attempt to hammer my fish quota by eating tinned mackerel at least twice per week. The way the food industry is set up in this country it makes it incredibly difficult to eat healthily

I was first put on statin when living in France, but when I returned to the UK in 2014 my then GP in Wales (a truly amazing man) told me a story about when he left med. school he went on a research trip to Africa where they discovered a very remote tribe who all had cholesterol levels that were on the very high side of suicidal and yet they were all as fit as fiddles and were all living to very advanced years!!Now I live in Lincolnshire and have been recently put on innumerable heart and lung medications along with 40mg statins, I take so many meds that I almost rattle.

But back to the case in point and your question about lowering your cholesterol naturally, yes you should be able to achieve significant reductions if you eat a very healthy fat free diet, drink alcohol carefully, watch your weight and exercise frequently then you should be able to manage it............ However I do all of these things and my LDL levels are in check, yet my GP and the heart specialists still keep me on the blessed statins!

I have a theory that Statins was first manufactured because the average person was unable to stick to a low fat diet and required exercise . Look around you and see how much obesity there is. I came out of hospital with a high cholesterol level because of hospital food but after 6 months check up it was normal due to being back to healthy diet. I think high levels of stress plays a large part in heart disease. My husband eats the same meals as I do and is older. His heart is fine but he handles stress much better than I do

Loxm profile image
Loxm in reply to Pollypuss

I completely agree about stress playing a large part in heart disease which s bloody ironic because having heart disease is bloody stressful!

SpareNib profile image
SpareNib in reply to Pollypuss

And older, post-menopausal women also have a higher risk (some say 48%) of developing prediabetes from statin use. I was started on Atorvastatin for 6 months post heart op, and subsequent blood tests indicated I had developed prediabetes. Luckily my GP knew his stuff and suggested it could be the statin. I stopped, blood levels returned to normal range. Women are prescribed statins using the same protocols as men - which is only now being seen as questionable. Male and female bodies react differently to medical treatment - but the overwhelming number of clinical trials are done using male patients. Stenting, for example, also has been shown to have worse outcomes for women. Interesting book about data bias in a world designed for men is in Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez. Everything from government policy and medical research, to technology, workplaces, urban planning and the media.

Loxm profile image
Loxm in reply to SpareNib

I have read the book, it was very insightful. i would encourage everyne to read it.

Pollypuss profile image
Pollypuss in reply to SpareNib

Well done. All my symptoms were mild and my tests perfect. Doctors thought it was muscular because I was fit. So it was a shock when I discovered I needed a triple bypass. Women are different and still a lot of research needed there

SpareNib profile image
SpareNib in reply to Pollypuss

You've just proven exactly the point about the differences between women and men in health issues; your illness was there but the symptoms weren't "read" correctly because the textbooks teach what to look for in the default human model (male). Invisible Women has a chapter on health data bias - including eye-opening stuff on the different effects of drugs (like Viagra having health benefits for women that have been overshadowed by male results and thus "hijacked"); poorer outcomes for women with implanted heart devices; women denied drugs that work on them because they don't work on men. The Sunday Times review said: "This book is a devastating indictment of institutionalised complacency".

women over 60 apparently benefit from higher cholesterol levels!

Milkfairy profile image
MilkfairyHeart Star in reply to SpareNib

Invisible Woman is an excellent book.The male caucasian body, is often the template for medicine.

Have your read Prof Angela Maas' book

Women Hearts?

She discusses how women are more likely to live with non obstructive coronary artery disease, microvascular dysfunction and vasospastic angina.

Often overlooked and untreated.

Everyone processes cholesterol differently. It depends on where you are starting from ; in my case I was fit and ate really well but still had high levels of bad and low levels of good. Statins have really worked wonders on my ldl levels.

As noted statins can also help with the composition of plaque, rendering it harder and more stable.

I saw a chart on my statin, atorvastatin, from trials conducted. At my 20mg dose it comes out at 42% reduction in LDL. I've dropped LDL from 4.4 to 0.9 (80%) with a big lifestyle change. included. So I think diet and exercise can have a big impact. Your GP / cardiologist may want to keep you on statins for their other stabilising properties.

Loxm profile image
Loxm in reply to Xtorti0n

Hi I am on a high dose of statindes 80mg and the side effects are terrible. I will talk to my GP about lowering the dose and hopefully reducing the side effects.

Xtorti0n profile image
Xtorti0n in reply to Loxm

I went through adjustment getting them into my system and settled ok. Maybe a different statin is needed for you. As to the dose you're on, I'm sure the GP / cardiologist have a good reason, sometimes it seems hard to get them explain why!

Flummoxedlou profile image
Flummoxedlou in reply to Loxm

I too suffered terrible side effects. I experimented with taking them in the morning or night time etc. with and without food, finally found that taking at night before bed with a sandwich worked, I slept through the shaking tremors and started the day much better. My doctor also tried other statins and eventually hit on the right one. Life is so much better on a slightly lower dose of the one that suits me - its all trial and error but the benefits of statins outweigh the side effects.

citygirl65 profile image
citygirl65 in reply to Loxm

yes i tried one ended up hospital bad chest pain got lower dose no good ditched only after one of each literally tried ibroprofen a month didn t do much got ckd so not good longterm decided after levels went down kidneys after couple of weeks left that now been advised tablets for ch..levels ezi...one. so will take them maybe after break dont want any side effects...cant exercise cos of recurrent pericarditus not much info on that either.

Everybody is different. I have familial hypercholesterolaemia - I inherited mine (thanks mum and dad.). When I first found out that I had high cholesterol, I ate like a rabbit for three months and abstained from all kinds of alcohol. My cholesterol didn’t budge a smidge.

It all really depends on the individual. What I will say is that changing your lifestyle might not have a massive impact on your cholesterol but it may improve your heart health.

Loxm profile image
Loxm in reply to Curlyman83

My diagnoosis is fairly recent so I have a lot to learn. Whereas I was initially concentrating on cholesterol I have gatherd that this is multi factorial and much more complex. I am keen to pursue the healthier lifestyle and eating habits to see whether it is making a difference.

Vonnie4 profile image
Vonnie4 in reply to Curlyman83

Hi Curlyman83. I hear you. Have just put my own thoughts on this thread as I too have FH on my dads side. Really frustrating have a 101 mum, healthy and with extremely low cholesterol levels!

Midwalesgirl profile image
Midwalesgirl in reply to Vonnie4

cholesterol is protective in women over 60. you have just proven my point

i started taking statins in my mid 20's, i too have familial hypercholesterolaemia, i agree that a healthy lifestyle for improving heart health is most important, along with the realisation the cholesterol is a "life essential" molecule without which we would die.i stopped taking statins just over two years ago, after 30 years and feel better than ever

To respond to the part of your post about testing cholesterol, I do just that every three months with a private lab by post. I also add other tests from time to time.(e.g. Vit D). My GP practice seem to be only interested in dishing out Covid Jabs now and also messaged to say there was a shortage of glass phials. To me, one advantage is that you get a full breakdown of cholesterol measures so you can act accordingly. I've not posted the name of the lab I use but can message this to you if necessary.

Loxm profile image
Loxm in reply to golfcity

Thank you for your reply. I feel as though I neeed to take control of my situation and not rely on the GP for certain test. I was booked in for a blood test a few weeks ago which cancelled due to a lack of blood vials and asked to call back in 4 weeks when the situation might be better.

Loxm profile image
Loxm in reply to golfcity

Hi, I wuld apprecciate knowing the details of the lab that you use.

Raylpa profile image
Raylpa in reply to golfcity

Hi golfcity would you be so kind as to message me with the details for the lab you mention for your blood works. Sincere Regards Ray (Chester UK)

Lilypocket profile image
Lilypocket in reply to Raylpa

Oh I was born in Chester!

Ramilia profile image
Ramilia in reply to golfcity

Hi Golfcity,

I too would appreciate having a note of the lab you use. I find picking one out of the many online a bit daunting! Thank you.

I guess if your cholesterol total is well under 4, 3.6 I have been told is optimal - with the right ratio of LDL and HDL then it would be a good idea to reduce medication if your gp agrees. However it may be that some GPS are so wedded to sorting things out with a pill that you have trouble there, good luck

I have been taking sinvastatin for my cholesterol for about 12 years.But 3 years ago my doctor told me once that he were going to give me a higher dose if my cholesterol continue to increase. He also told me that my kidney were not working properly.

Well, let me explain that I didn't do any exercise and I really liked to eat junk food too often and sweets.

That is why my medicine wasn't working so well. When he told me that, I got scared because I just thought that I didn't want to have a heart attack or any kind of failure of my kidney.

So, I went to buy natural supplements for the well functioning of the heart to complement my medicine.

I bought Omega pills, garlic pills, oatmeal for breakfast and shakes and metamucil fiber. Metamucil and oatmeal absorb cholesterol and helps you to digest better what you eat.

Of course that I try to not eat junk food. So after a month I had to go for new analysis in order to check how my cholesterol was doing. I was to happy because my doctor told me that everything go to normal levels. He said that he was to proud of me because I was doing a good job to improve my health.

My point is that natural supplements really work. I am not telling you to substitute you medicine. I am just saying that it is a very good complement of that really works.

Why do not you go to a naturist shop or a store like Walmart or pharmacies where you can find all the natural supplements that may help you.

Probably if your doctor sees improvement after certain amount of time, he probably will reduce a bit your medicine. Just don't forget exercising and change for a healthy diet.

Hugs and luck.

Investigate in internet what kind of teas and supplements may help you. Also look for what kind of fruits and vegetables can improve your cholesterol too.

bloke on morning live said same thing nuts oats etc 🤣

Good morning. All very interesting advice from both sides about whether diet and lifestyle alone can significantly reduce cholesterol levels. I have always believed ( living with someone who had a heart attack 20 years ago at 41) that statins should not be prescribed unless someone has already had a heart attack or other methods eg diet and lifestyle have been tried and failed to make any impact on levels. Speaking personally I discovered by chance I had high cholesterol levels 14 years ago. I am not an advocate for taking medicine unnecessarily. I am fit a non smoker, not a big drinker, and spot on in terms of weight blood pressure etc. I had a 12 year on /off battle with my docs about my high cholesterol. I tried 3 types of statins each one reducing my fitness levels to that of someone more akin to 80 plus years. I was in my 40's at the time! I tried and failed to make major lifestyle changes becoming despondent when I had my cholesterol levels checked each time and nothing changed. So in the end I was sent to the lipid clinic where they did further blood tests and discovered I had Familial Hypercholestromia (FH for short!) For those of you who've not heard of this, it's an inherited genetic disorder which had (unknown to me) been present since birth and basically left me with an increased risk of early heart disease. So basically I can live on an extremely healthy diet and still be unable to reduce my levels which unfortunately with a person with FH these need to be even lower than a standard person with high cholesterol.

I also have raised levels of Lp(a) which is a large sticky lipoprotein particle made in the liver and found in the blood so have now 3 months ago had Ezetimibe prescribed to reduce my total cholesterol by 50%.

This isn't my choice to take both these tablets and I would absolutely love to be able to prove my consultant wrong and lower these levels naturally but I'm too afraid of playing God until I start to hear stories of peoole with FH who HAVE made these differences through diet etc. I dont want to have to live on a diet of lettuce leaves having said that to achieve this. So.. if anyone out there is in a similar situation please please respond and give me some hope. I experience side effects from these tablets most recently with the Ezetimibe which combined with the stain I'm currently on has produced a nasty itchy skin rash on my leg which my GP is scratching jus head about!

If you need to be on statins and have a real reason to be on them then take them if you can tolerate the side effects. If you dont have FH like me then continue your research to achieving your best lifestyle through diet and lifestyle changes.

Good luck everyone

Midwalesgirl profile image
Midwalesgirl in reply to Vonnie4

my Lp(a) level is 113. i am told the healthy level is around 50. research has shown me that there is currently no treatment for high Lp(a)! so i decided to ask for a carotid artery scan to find out the condition of my arteries, good news is they were squeeky clean. given it takes decades for atherosclerosis to become problematic, i decided to take my chances.

Vonnie4 profile image
Vonnie4 in reply to Midwalesgirl

Hi there. Thanks for this info. Its given me a small beacon of hope. My husband has told me about this test to see the state of a person's arteries and I may well look into it. Can you give me some idea of how you go about organising this test please?I dont like the fact that Rosuvastatin and Ezetimibe combined can cause problems with the liver which is why liver function has to be carefully monitored. My Lp(a) levels were 135 when tested 4 months ago. Consultant says that this is consistent with moderate cardiovascular risk. He said it should be less than 90 and wants total cholesterol down to less than 2.5 despite my concerns that my brain is also dependant on cholesterol to function properly and whilst he may want my cholesterol down much lower surely he must know that this same cholesterol is a vital part of cell membranes in tbe brain which ultimately will lead to cognitive and memory problems before my birth certificate says this should happen(still in my late 50's!!)

My other concern is that statins have been shown to seriously deplete the body of CoQ10 which ironically, a serious depletion of this vitamin like substance affects your heart like a calcium deficiency affects your bones. So really if you are on statins you should be taking this a a vitamin supplement . Lack of CoQ10 in the body creates muscle pain, weakness and a complete loss of energy to bame a few.

I'm always suspicious when told "lifetime use" who benefits?

No. I did all of the above and wasn’t able to reduce my cholesterol to acceptable levels. My doctor told me that’s just how your body chemistry is and there is nothing you can do about it.

This question comes up frequently on here. It is possible to reduce one’s cholesterol marginally…for some people. For others, it’s just not possible. For some (like me) cholesterol levels are determined by genetics.

There is actually still some debate out there as to why we’re looking to reduce cholesterol - it’s vital to your survival and links with heart conditions have been debated by some consultants.

With that being said, can I ask why you are looking to be rid of Statins?

Loxm profile image
Loxm in reply to Curlyman83

Hi, it doesnt sit well with me to hear about being on meds for life as the first and only option.

Curlyman83 profile image
Curlyman83 in reply to Loxm

Fair enough. Unfortunately, that ship has well and truly sailed for me at the ripe old age of 38

My brother's cholesterol was extremely high and his gp wanted to put him on statins but he refused and lowered his levels right down through diet, so yes you can, I had a heart attack 3 weeks ago and I'm on statins for now but I'm altering my diet and I'll eventually drop statins. Good luck

You may also like...