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How Do Cholesterol Lowering Supplements Work?
- Some of the most effective cholesterol lowering supplements on the market are soluble fiber and artichoke leaf extract
- The key to promoting healthy cholesterol is reducing total LDL cholesterol levels and increasing total HDL cholesterol levels
- Reducing cholesterol is important when high cholesterol is such a significant concern today and lower LDL cholesterol will help you achieve a healthier you
While plenty of cholesterol lowering supplements are available on the market, not all of them have delivered the results in scientific studies. Those that have demonstrate a clear method by which the supplement is able to lower cholesterol. The methods, however, vary among the supplements. Below is a discussion of how some of these available supplements work in your body.
Evacuating Cholesterol from the Body
One of the main ways that a supplement to lower cholesterol is going to work is getting it out of the body as quickly as possible. Cholesterol that is not used by the body goes back into the arteries and starts building up inside the arteries leading to plague build-up on their walls. However, if that cholesterol is excreted from the body, it doesn’t stick around in the blood nor does it build up in the body.
Soluble fiber is one of the supplements that work in this way. This type of fiber is hard for the body to digest so most of it is going to leave the body anyway. However, cholesterol binds itself to the fiber so that when the fiber is excreted so is the cholesterol. You can get this benefit from eating more soluble fiber in your diet or by taking supplements. Be aware that increasing soluble fiber levels can cause diarrhea in some people.
Another popular supplement is artichoke leaf extract. While it does not bind to the cholesterol, a chemical (known as cynarin) contained in the extract does produce greater amounts of bile. With more bile in the body, the excretion process goes faster and that means more cholesterol is going to be evacuated from the body.
Blocking cholesterol from getting into the bloodstream in the first place is another way these supplements to lower cholesterol work. The above mentioned artichoke leaf extract is also believed to stop cholesterol from being synthesized by the body which means more is available for removal and less ends up floating around in the blood.
One of the most popular supplements today – plant stanols and stenols – also work in a similar way. These chemicals which are found naturally in a number of plants can actually stop the intestines from absorbing cholesterol as they would other nutrients. The exact mechanism isn’t clearly understood but may be related to the structural similarities between these chemicals and cholesterol. You can find these chemicals easily today by looking for products labeled as “heart healthy” in your supermarket. Look for sitostanol or beta-sitostanol on the ingredients list or on the label as a clue.
If you’re not interested in lowering your LDL numbers, consider giving your HDL (good cholesterol) numbers a boost. That’s what some of the cholesterol supplements do. For example, Omega-3 fatty acids found primarily in fish oil have been shown to provide this type of benefit. Basically, HDL levels are important because high-density lipoproteins carry cholesterol away from the body not towards it the way low-density lipoproteins do. As a result, more HDL means you’re going to have less risk of plague build-up in the arteries.
The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.
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