9 Ways to Lower Cholesterol: Medicines and Natural Remedies

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Lowering cholesterol can reduce a person’s overall risk of heart disease and heart attack. Many lifestyle strategies that lower cholesterol can also improve other measures of health, such as body weight. Certain medications can also help.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 95 million people age 20 and older in the United States have elevated total cholesterol levels. Only about half of those whose health could improve with cholesterol medication take cholesterol medication.

Doctors usually talk about it two types of cholesterol. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol can accumulate in the arteries, increasing the risk of heart disease. This “bad” cholesterol is the most abundant type of cholesterol in the body.

High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, or “good” cholesterol, helps remove LDL cholesterol from the body and transport it back to the liver. Raising HDL cholesterol can help lower LDL cholesterol.

People with high cholesterol should discuss their diet, lifestyle, and medication options with a doctor.

Keep reading to learn about some of the medications and remedies that can help lower total cholesterol levels.

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Prescription drugs, such as statins, and natural remedies, such as omega-3 fatty acids, can help lower cholesterol.

Several prescription drugs can lower cholesterol. They contain:


While several medications can lower cholesterol, statins do the only class of drugs that science has proven can lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. They are safe for most people. However, they may carry some risks for people with diabetes or a history of heart disease.

Statins lower LDL cholesterol and can also lower HDL cholesterol. In addition, they can lower blood triglycerides. They work by reducing the formation of cholesterol in the liver.

Pregnant women and people with liver failure should not take statins.

Simvastatin (Zocor) and rosuvastatin (Crestor) are examples of statins.

Cholesterol absorption inhibitors

Cholesterol Absorption Inhibitor (CAI) medications are relatively new and more effective at lowering LDL cholesterol than total cholesterol. Some may also slightly lower triglycerides.

These drugs work by decreasing the amount of cholesterol that the small intestine absorbs. They may work well for people who can’t take statins but are unsafe for women who are breastfeeding or pregnant. Ezetimibe (Zetia) is a CAI drug that people can take.

PCSK9 inhibitors

PCSK9 inhibitors work in the liver to lower LDL cholesterol. They do this by binding to the PCSK9 protein. While these drugs can effectively lower cholesterol, it’s unclear if they reduce the risk of dying from heart disease.

Some people taking these medications develop joint pain, nausea, or flu-like symptoms. Examples include evolocumab (Repatha) and alirocumab (Praluent).


Waxing, which doctors sometimes call bile acid sequestrants, help the intestines remove more cholesterol during digestion. Cholesterol makes bile. Resins attach to bile during digestion, causing the liver to produce more bile and thus consume more cholesterol.

Colestipol (Colestid) and colesevelam (Welcol) are both resins. As with other cholesterol drugs that are not statins, it’s not clear whether waxing reduces the risk of death from heart disease. The most common side effects of waxing are digestive problems, such as heartburn and diarrhea.


Fibrates may lower triglycerides and raise HDL cholesterol. However, they are not effective in lowering LDL cholesterol. Clofibrate (Atromid) and gemfibrozil (Lopid) are prescription fibrates.

Scientists have tested several natural cholesterol remedies. Among which:


Niacin, or vitamin B-3, works in the liver and can reduce blood fats. While it is possible to take an over-the-counter (OTC) niacin supplement, the most effective option is one prescription form of the drug.

High doses of niacin can damage the liver. The nutrient can also cause itching, flushing and stomach pain.

OTC niacin supplements are available for purchase here.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids, such as those present in fish oil, may lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, and heart attack. They can do this by reducing the secretion of triglycerides or help the body remove excess cholesterol.

Eating cold-water fatty fish such as albacore and tuna a few times a week can help a person increase their omega-3 intake. Omega-3 supplements can also help. However, omega-3 supplements can sometimes cause bleeding, particularly in people taking blood thinners or with bleeding disorders.

In some cases, a doctor may type of prescription omega-3 called omega-3 acid ethyl esters.

Omega-3 supplements can be purchased here.

Eat plant sterols and stanols

Plant chemicals called sterols and stanols can help fight cholesterol and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Soybeans, margarine, and orange juice products that list sterols and stanols on their ingredients label are good sources.

Eat more soluble fiber

Soluble fiber may also help lower cholesterol. Many fruits and vegetables, including apples, bananas, prunes and prunes, are rich in soluble fiber.

Barley, oats and soy products, such as tofu, are also good sources of soluble fiber.

Soluble fiber supplements are available for purchase here.

Medications and supplements aren’t the only options for lowering cholesterol. People can also benefit from making the following lifestyle changes:

  • avoiding trans fats, which are abundant in many fried or processed foods
  • reducing saturated fat intake
  • get more exercise — strength training and aerobics can both lower cholesterol and help a person maintain a moderate body weight and reduce the overall risk of heart disease
  • maintaining a moderate body weight, as overweight or obese people are more likely to have high cholesterol, especially if they eat foods high in trans or saturated fats
  • eating a relatively low-fat diet rich in a wide variety of fruits and vegetables
  • Trim visible fat from meat before serving
  • quit smoking, if applicable
  • talk to a doctor about managing diabetes with medication and lifestyle changes

Although lifestyle can greatly affect cholesterol levels, it is not the only factor. Even otherwise healthy people can have high cholesterol, especially if it runs in the family. Cholesterol can also increase with age.

When lifestyle remedies don’t work, a person may need to take prescription medications, especially if they are at high risk for heart disease.

A person can talk to a cardiologist about the best options for lowering cholesterol. If one drug is ineffective or causes serious side effects, another drug may work better.

Open communication with a doctor can help a person lower their cholesterol and achieve better overall health.

9 Ways to Lower Cholesterol: Medicines and Natural Remedies

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