Cholesterol Lowering Vitamins - Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of illness and death in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Physicians and medical scientists generally agree that elevated levels of cholesterol irritate the walls of blood vessels and cause them to undergo harmful inflammatory changes. It is also believed that cholesterol lowering vitamins may prevent some of the damage to the inner lining of blood vessels caused by high levels of cholesterol. Here are just a few of the natural substances that can help support heart health:
Although not, strictly speaking, a cholesterol lowering vitamin, the resin of the Commiphora mukul tree has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for at least 3000 years to treat a variety of ailments. Most studies have shown that this resin, termed gum guggul, can decrease elevated levels of cholesterol and triglyceride. An extract of this resin called a guggullipid is the cholesterol-lowering agent.
The advantage of guggullipid over statin drugs like Lipitor, Zocor, Mevacor, and Crestor is that it does not block the body from making its own cholesterol. It does not interfere with the activity of the liver, it does not cause memory loss, and it does not damage muscle tissue or raise the risk of kidney damage. Guggullipids eliminate a substance that keeps the liver from getting rid of cholesterol. This natural compound also lowers blood pressure, blood sugar, and insulin requirements, and prevents the inflammation that precedes heart attack or stroke.
Beta-sitosterol is a naturally occurring plant alcohol that helps the body respond to vitamin E. Because it has a chemical structure similar to cholesterol, it keeps the intestine from absorbing cholesterol from food and reduces the concentration of cholesterol in the bloodstream. There is also preliminary scientific evidence that beta-sitosterol might stimulate the immune system and help fight cancer.
D-limonene is the chemical that gives the lemon its pleasant scent. It acts in ways similar to cholesterol lowering vitamin E.
Green Tea (Theaflavin) Extract
Green tea or theaflavin extracts can lower levels of the "bad" LDL cholesterol and raise levels of "good" HDL cholesterol. Theaflavins are formed green tea ferments and changes into black or oolong tea. They are quickly absorbed into the body and are thought to contribute to some of the potential health benefits of tea.
To get the level of theaflavins shown to reduce cholesterol from drinking tea, a person would need to drink 35 cups of tea, every day. Fortunately, theaflavins can be concentrated in an extract so that is only necessary to take a single dose of the green tea supplement.
Lecithin is a protein-bound fat found in soy. A report in the July 2005 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicates that a daily dose of lecithin lowers homocysteine concentrations in healthy men whose homocysteine concentrations are mildly elevated.
Oryzanol is an oil extracted from rice bran. It contains a variety of vitamins and minerals, fiber, amino acids, and beneficial fats. Rice bran is especially "oily" compared to other grains. The oils in rice bran contain the same essential fatty acids found in fish oil and flaxseed oil.
Oryzanol helps lower cholesterol in three different ways:
It keeps the intestine from absorbing cholesterol.
It helps the liver convert cholesterol into bile salts that are excreted with the feces.
It encourages regularity that removes the bile salts carrying the cholesterol.
Oryzanol may also help prevent the early stages of atherosclerosis and inhibit the formation of clots.
Also not a cholesterol lowering vitamin, policosanol is a mixture of waxy compounds derived from sugar cane. It is approved as a cholesterol lowering treatment in over 25 countries. In a study in Cuba, policosanol was more effective at lowering cholesterol than the statin drug lovastatin (also known as Mevacor). Policosanol also had mild anti-platelet activity that could thin the blood?without any of the side effects of Coumadin or the statin drugs.
Also not, strictly speaking, a cholesterol lowering vitamin, pumpkin seed oil is a rich source of alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and lutein, as well as beneficial fatty acids. Pumpkin seed oil is especially helpful in preventing side effects of prescription medications for high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Pumpkin seed oil is also an excellent source of antioxidant selenium and zinc, which may slow the process of atherosclerosis while cholesterol and blood pressure are not yet controlled.
A real vitamin but not necessarily a cholesterol lowering vitamin is vitamin E. Vitamin E does not have a direct effect on cholesterol, but it helps prevent the accumulation of cholesterol in the linings of the arteries in cholesterol plaques. Vitamin E also prevents the process of inflammation that tightens the arteries and precedes heart attack or stroke. It is especially important to diabetics.
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