A new study found that six popular dietary supplements, fish oil, garlic, cinnamon, turmeric, plant sterols, and red yeast rice, are ineffective at combating “bad” cholesterol.
Study finds fish oil, garlic, cinnamon, turmeric, plant sterols, and red yeast rice are ineffective for fighting “bad” cholesterol.
Research shows statins are superior to dietary supplements, proving to lower cholesterol.
Making smart personal health choices can increase your risk to avoid heart disease more than dietary supplements.
A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology compared dietary supplements against statins, finding the FDA-approved drug for reducing blood levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. LDL is also known as “bad” cholesterol, which is tied as an instigator of heart disease.
Luke Laffin, the study’s author and co-director of the Center for Blood Pressure Disorders in the Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute at Cleveland Clinic, believes this study shows significant evidence that dietary supplements are ineffective in reducing LDL cholesterol.
“If you’re taking over-the-counter supplements for heart health or for cholesterol-lowering, you should reconsider,” Laffin said to Cleveland Clinic Newsroom. “Unfortunately, many U.S. consumers believe cholesterol health supplements are safer than prescription medications and believe supplements are as effective, or more effective than statins.”
Statins prove to be effective
Laffin and his team evaluated 190 adults between the ages of 45 and 65 over a 28-day period. Those involved were placed in groups featuring a placebo, fish oil, cinnamon, garlic, turmeric, plant sterols, or red yeast rice, along with a light 5 mg/day of a statin medication.
The study found average LDL reduction at the study conclusion was prevalent in 37.9% of those receiving statin. Those consuming the dietary supplements just about equaled the results of the placebo.
Statins do lead to some side effects versus the dietary supplements tested, including:
- Tiredness, weakness
- Digestive system issues including diarrhea or constipation
- Sleeping issues
- Muscle pain
Study limited by sample size
Although this study shows no benefits of dietary supplements mentioned, it is limited due to the participants observed. None of the population had severe cardiovascular disease, but 42% had high blood pressure — which was linked heavily to high cholesterol. Also, 3.5% were current smokers, and 33 were former smokers. Smoking can lead to higher amounts of “bad” cholesterol.
Although none of the participants had severe cardiovascular disease, a solid portion contained precursors to heart health issues. The study does not probe into the effects of the supplements on a diverse scale, mostly focusing on middle-to-older aged individuals. Perhaps, consuming dietary supplements over a long-term period could provide some benefits.
It is important to stay a step ahead before high cholesterol impacts your health, leading to many cases of heart disease.
How to fight high cholesterol
High cholesterol is currently a major epidemic in the United States. According to the CDC, around 7% of children and teens ages 6 to 19 have high total cholesterol. Heart disease is currently the leading cause of death in the U.S., with high cholesterol only increasing the chances.
High cholesterol has no symptoms and can only be detected through blood work, therefore putting pressure on the individual to eat an appropriate diet. Our body naturally creates appropriate amounts of cholesterol, therefore not making it a necessity to acquire through various foods.
Food with high amounts of cholesterol include:
- Steak, beef roast, ribs, pork chops
- Processed meats
- Fried foods
- Candy, sweets, pastries, and many other deserts with high sugar
- Fatty dairy products
Foods like eggs, shellfish, and lean meat are great foods for nutritional value despite containing high cholesterol. When consuming foods with high cholesterol, it is essential to intake them in moderation. It is nearly impossible to avoid a breakfast with bacon and eggs or an afternoon barbeque with hot dogs in a burger. Try to limit those occasions, and make the healthier option available — like having a turkey burger instead of the quarter-pound beef burger. Oats, beans, and other foods with unsaturated fats can help prevent high levels of LDL.
Exercise is another great method to lower cholesterol. For kids, 60 minutes per day is recommended along with two-and-a-half hours per week for adults of physical activity according to the U.S. Surgeon General. Other bad habits to limit high cholesterol include smoking and high amounts of alcohol consumption.
Being overweight or obese can increase your risk for higher levels of “bad” cholesterol. The CDC recommends assessing your body mass index (BMI) to determine if you are at a healthy weight.
Results from the Supplements, Placebo or Rosuvastatin Study were funded by AstraZeneca with an unrestricted grant. However, Cleveland Clinic was granted full control of the study’s study methodology, data analysis, and discussion of clinical implications.