Although cholesterol is a necessary component of the body, too much of a certain type can lead to potential health issues. However, certain herbs, such as turmeric and rosemary, may help lower cholesterol. That said, more research is needed to determine their effect on cholesterol. Cholesterol is a component necessary for building cells. The liver creates this waxy substance and distributes it throughout the body through the blood. Genetics and lifestyle can influence the amount of cholesterol produced by the liver. When it produces too much, it can lead to a blockage, which can cause a heart attack or stroke.
However, not all cholesterol is bad. Health experts divide it into two types:
Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) Cholesterol: People often refer to this as the “bad” cholesterol. LDL can contribute to clogged arteries when its level is high.
High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) Cholesterol: People often refer to this as the “good” cholesterol. HDL helps remove LDL cholesterol from the blood.
When measuring cholesterol levels, doctors often also look at triglyceride levels. These fats store excess energy from a person’s diet and can contribute to excessive LDL cholesterol levels. Several treatments, including medications and lifestyle changes, can help lower LDL cholesterol levels.
Also, a person may find that using herbal supplements can help lower cholesterol. This article reviews herbs that have been shown to help lower cholesterol. However, before taking supplements, a doctor should be consulted.
1 Fenugreek seeds and leaves
Studies show that fenugreek supplements can help lower blood cholesterol levels. According to a 2020 meta-analysis, researchers found that evidence supports the use of fenugreek supplements to help lower cholesterol levels in people with diabetes. However, the authors also noted a need for additional high quality studies.
2 Artichoke leaf extract
People can consume artichoke as part of a nutritious diet, such as the Mediterranean diet. Several studies over the years have looked at how artichoke affects cholesterol levels. A 2018 meta-analysis suggested that the use of artichoke leaf extract had links to lower LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels. The researchers said that using artichoke leaf extract supplements may work in combination with lipid-lowering therapy, specifically in people with hyperlipidemia. This is the case when a person’s body has an excess of fats such as cholesterol and triglycerides.
Yarrow is a soilless flowering herb that people have used in traditional medicine for years. There is some evidence to suggest that it may have cholesterol lowering effects.
In an older study from 2012, researchers found that it helped lower cholesterol levels in chickens. However, these results may not be applicable to humans since the aim of the study was to examine how to reduce antibiotic use in chickens. A 2019 study found that yarrow extract showed signs of lipid alteration in vitro, that is, outside of living organisms. However, the authors did not mention its use for lowering overall cholesterol. Taking a yarrow supplement may help lower cholesterol. However, human-specific studies are currently lacking.
4 Holy basil
Holy basil (tulsi) is a slightly spicy and bitter herb that a person can consume raw or as part of a cooking dish. A 2018 study looked at how holy basil affects adults 40 and older with metabolic disorders. It revealed that a higher dose leads to lower total cholesterol and LDL levels. A person must consume at least 1 gram (g) per day to achieve this.
However, the study researchers also noted that the effects were short-lived. It is not known whether long-term use will have a lasting effect.
Ginger is a popular herb that people use in various Asian-inspired dishes. It adds a sweet, slightly sour flavor to foods. Some people also use ginger as a supplement to help with various health issues. In a 2018 systematic review and meta-analysis, researchers looked at 12 trials. Studies have suggested that low doses of ginger, less than 2g per day, have a good effect on lowering triglyceride and LDL cholesterol levels. However, they also noted that more, higher quality studies are needed to fully prove its effectiveness in reducing high cholesterol. One can add ginger to their diet or consider taking supplements.
Turmeric is a common spice in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine. People know it for its distinctive yellow color and earthy flavor profile. Some also use it in traditional medicine for a variety of potential health benefits. A 2017 study looked at the effects of turmeric’s active component, curcumin, on the risk of cardiovascular disease. Researchers have found that turmeric and curcumin can protect patients at risk of cardiovascular disease by improving serum lipid levels. However, they noted that additional high-quality studies are needed to help prove its effectiveness as well as provide appropriate dosing and safety profiles.
Rosemary may also have some positive effects on a person’s cholesterol levels. According to an older study from 2014, people who took 2, 5, or 10g of rosemary powder daily saw a decrease in total cholesterol levels. They suggested that this herb may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases. However, the study only used a small sample, so more research is needed to draw firmer conclusions.
High cholesterol can increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Cholesterol can build up in the arteries and block blood flow to the heart, which can cause a heart attack, or to the brain, which can cause a stroke. One should follow his doctor’s recommendations regarding his treatment. One should not stop taking cholesterol medications without first talking to their doctor.
To combat cholesterol, a person may find it helpful to make lifestyle changes such as regular physical activity or exercise. In addition, it may be useful to modify your diet, for example by adopting the Mediterranean diet. By taking steps to manage cholesterol and other cardiovascular risk factors, a person can live a normal, healthy life.
Certain herbs may have medicinal properties that can help with issues such as cholesterol. Supplements and dietary changes and their effect on cholesterol are sometimes not well studied. One should consult a physician before altering one’s supplements or medications to avoid any potential interactions. That said, adding herbs, like turmeric and rosemary, to a diet can help lower cholesterol. They can also add extra flavor to foods, making nutritious foods more appealing.