Article by Angela Haldane
Q. I have high cholesterol, and I'm unsure whether to take statin drugs because of their apparent side effects. Can natural therapies help?
A. Dietary and lifestyle changes can signifcantly alter your blood lipid profiles – total cholesterol decreases, the high density lipoproteins (HDLs) increase, and the low-density lipoproteins (LDLs) decrease, which is beneficial. Statin drugs have shown a 28-35% reduction in LDL cholesterol.
Herbs, supplements and low saturated fat diets have demonstrated a 5-15% reduction. A recent Canadian study showed how supplementation along with a 'dietary portfolio' can achieve a 28.6% drop in LDL (a similar effect to a statin drug). The vegetarian diet involves 4 aspects: plant sterols (as a supplement or in food 2g/day), viscous fibre (such as oat bran or psyllium 20g/day), almonds (30g/day) and soya protein (40g/day). The diet and supplementation achieved similar results to statin drugs in reducing inflammatory marker C-reactive protein, thought to contribute to cardiovascular disease. Where the diet was adapted to include fish and lean meat, a 22% reduction in cholesterol was also achieved. See your registered herbalist for advice – www.nzamh.org.nz or make an appointment with Natural Ange Ltd.
As for lifestyle, exercise is key; not only does it reduce stress – important for good cholesterol management – it helps to achieve your ideal weight (the more body fat, the more cholesterol is stored).