‘I’m a doctor – start with this supplement to lower cholesterol’

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Cholesterol is a fatty substance that can build up in the blood if a person eats fatty food, doesn’t exercise, is overweight, smokes and drinks alcohol. It’s important to treat high cholesterol as it can increase the risk of life-threatening health problems, such as a heart attack or stroke.

Alongside eating less fatty food, exercising more, stopping smoking, and cutting down on alcohol, Dr Oliver Guttmann at The Wellington Hospital part of HCA Healthcare UK, recommends adding supplements to your daily routine.

To start with, Dr Guttmann recommends taking omega-3

Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil supplements are known for supporting heart health. Dr Guttmann said: “Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for the heart as they reduce inflammation and improve blood vessel function.”

Dr Guttmann also said to consider taking plant sterols and stanols

He explained: “Plant sterols and stanols help lower ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol by blocking its absorption. Soluble fibre, like psyllium, in supplement form binds to cholesterol, making it easier for the body to eliminate. Garlic supplements may lower cholesterol production in the liver.”

Lastly, Dr Guttmann recommended niacin

He said: “Niacin boosts ‘good’ HDL cholesterol and lowers ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol. ‘Bad’ cholesterol refers to low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), a type of cholesterol that can contribute to the buildup of plaque in the arteries which results in an increased risk of heart health problems.”

While these supplements are often used to manage high cholesterol, it’s worth noting they can also play a role in preventing elevated cholesterol levels, said Dr Guttmann. They should not be viewed as a substitute for a healthy lifestyle.

He added: “Maintaining proper nutrition and engaging in regular physical activity is important as these lifestyle factors are fundamental to overall cardiovascular health. If you have any concerns or questions about your cholesterol management or supplements, it’s worth discussing them during your next GP appointment.”

How often should you take these supplements?

It is important to follow the recommended dose on the label of the supplement or as advised by your GP, said Dr Guttmann. But take them regularly for the best results.

Should you only take them if you have high cholesterol, or can it prevent high cholesterol?

While they help manage high cholesterol, they can also contribute to preventing it, said Dr Guttmann. He added: “But, eating well and staying active are vital too.”

What should people be wary of?

It’s crucial not to exceed the recommended doses of supplements to prevent potential issues.

Dr Guttmann advised: “Always communicate with your GP about the supplements you’re incorporating into your routine to avoid any complications with prescribed medications. When selecting supplements, opt for reputable and high-quality brands to ensure their safety and effectiveness.

“Remember, supplements are intended to complement a healthy lifestyle rather than serving as replacements. They work alongside good nutrition and regular exercise.”

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