What Vitamins Help Lower Cholesterol?
Every vitamin can help lower your cholesterol when consumed as part of a healthy diet. A 14 year study has shown that consuming larger amounts of two B vitamins can make a significant difference in overall cholesterol levels. The only way to truly lower cholesterol is to commit to a healthy diet, and there are many foods that can maximize your diet's potential.
Vitamins to Lower Cholesterol
A 14 year study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, The Harvard Medical School, and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston followed 80,082 nurses who consumed various amounts of two B vitamins: folate and B-6. The women got the vitamins from food sources as well as supplements. The current recommended daily allowance of folate is 180 micrograms and is 1.6 milligrams for B-6. Women in the study consumed up to 400 micrograms of folate and 3 milligrams of B-6, at least double the RDA. The study showed that consuming the maximum amount of both vitamins resulted in a 45% reduction of coronary disease, which is caused by high cholesterol. Their risk was 78% lower than women who consumed only the RDA of folate and B-6.
Not Just Vitamins
While this study showed promising results, researchers warn that vitamins are not a miracle cure. Equally important factors to manage cholesterol and prevent heart disease include not smoking, controlling blood pressure, and preventing or managing diabetes. Researchers recommend eating a well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, all of which have cholesterol lowering properties. Regular physical activity is also an important factor that can dramatically affect cholesterol levels.
Foods Rich in Folate and B-6
Foods rich in folate, ranking from most to least, include (1 cup each):
- Chicken Liver
- Cooked Lentils
- Cooked Spinach
- Cooked Asparagus
- Black-eyed Peas
- Orange Juice
Foods rich in vitamin B-6 include (1 cup each):
- Beef Liver
If beef liver isn't your thing, there are many fortified cereals and juices available. Just check the nutrition label for amounts per serving.
Foods to Maximize Vitamin Intake
The best way to consume plenty of vitamins is to choose the least processed foods you can find. So, instead of picking a canned vegetable soup, make your own. Skip the prepackaged dinners and whip up your own stir-fry. Choose whole grains like oatmeal, barley, couscous or wild rice over refined grains found in white bread and white rice; refined grains have absolutely no nutritional value. Fresh vegetables and fruits are loaded with fiber and antioxidants, both of which are great at removing bad cholesterol from the body. Good fats found in fatty fish (salmon, tuna, herring) as well as olive oil, avocados, nuts, and flaxseed raise levels of good cholesterol and help your body remove bad cholesterol.
By all means, take a multi-vitamin as a dietary supplement. However, experts warn that no supplement can do as much as simply eating better, healthier foods. Take the time to experiment with new foods and you'll end up with a tastier, healthier diet and lower cholesterol.
Photo Credit: bradley j