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Independent health store advice on natural ways to support healthy cholesterol

Looking for advice on natural health and wellbeing? Your local independent health store can offer a wealth of expertise. This month we talk to Alison Crowther, a Registered Nutritional Therapist, mBANT, CNHC, based at Inside Out Health in Reigate

Many customers come into our store asking if there’s something natural they can take to help lower their cholesterol levels. We also get some customers wanting to just support their heart health in general. In these situations we always ask if they have been to see their doctor, whether they have had any tests, diagnoses, or been prescribed any medication before we recommend any products.

A note on cholesterol

Cholesterol test results include total cholesterol, HDL and LDL. The HDL is often referred to as ‘good cholesterol’ and the LDL as ‘bad cholesterol’. Cholesterol is vital for cell membranes, making bile salts and for making hormones such as cortisol (a stress hormone) and the male and female sex hormones (such as oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone). Only a small amount of our cholesterol comes from the diet and the liver makes the rest. If the liver is functioning well this helps to balance how much cholesterol the body needs to make.

Preventing cholesterol from being oxidised is extremely important. This is because oxidised cholesterol can cause inflammation in the arteries and is a risk of heart disease. There are a few key supplements that may help to support heart health and balance cholesterol levels. However, please note that if you are on any cholesterol lowering drugs or blood pressure lowering drugs or any medication at all, please seek medical advice before taking any of the supplements suggested in this article. This is very important as there may be contraindications with the medication and supplements.

Key supplements

Plant sterols
These are naturally occurring substances found in very small quantities in certain plant-based foods and have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels.

Omega-3 from fish oil has anti-inflammatory and blood thinning actions. It has been shown to help maintain normal cholesterol levels and improve heart health. A vegan omega-3 (which is from algae) is available but higher levels of omega-3 are found in fish oil.

Red yeast rice and CoQ10
This works in the same way as statin drugs because it contains a naturally occurring compound called monacolin K, which is structurally identical to statin medication.

It inhibits the production of cholesterol but, like statins, it also inhibits the production of co-enzyme Q10, which is extremely important for heart health. CoQ10 is a powerful antioxidant and vital for energy production but the body’s ability to produce it naturally decreases with age. However, a new and unique research-proven formulation of red yeast rice is now available which does not contain monacolin K. This means that it does not affect the production of CoQ10 but still contains ingredients which have been shown to have a beneficial effect on cholesterol levels.

These are important for helping to prevent the oxidisation of cholesterol. Antioxidants such as the following are useful and can often be found in antioxidant complexes.

Scientific research has shown that specific strains of ‘good’ bacteria such as Lactobacillus Plantarum have helped to support healthy cholesterol levels.

This is an essential mineral needed for over 300 functions in the body, including energy and heart health. The body uses magnesium when under stress and if dietary levels are low it can be easy for people to become low in magnesium.

Some advice on diet

Many people are concerned about including fats in their diet but not all fats are bad. Those which should be avoided are processed vegetable oils (e.g. sunflower and canola) and fats found in margarine, baked and processed foods. Too much of these have been shown to be harmful to many aspects of health including cardiovascular health. Naturally occurring saturated fat from extra virgin coconut oil, ghee and a little grass-fed butter are healthier choices, especially for cooking. There is now growing evidence to show that high levels of sugar and refined carbohydrates negatively affect cholesterol levels, so these should be avoided or kept to a minimum.

Include the following in your diet to support heart health:

Lifestyle tips

Exercise has been shown to have many benefits on heart health including reducing stress levels, improving circulation, supporting healthy cholesterol levels, weight reduction and reducing blood pressure levels. Avoid smoking as this is known to be detrimental to all areas of health including the heart. Keep alcohol to a minimum or avoid it, especially for supporting cholesterol levels. High levels of alcohol have been shown to be harmful to cardiovascular health. Avoid being overweight as this can have a negative impact on all areas of heart health. Reduce stress through taking time out, being in nature, learning to say no and drinking calming herbal teas.

Inside Out Health

Located in the heart of Reigate, Inside Out Health is an independent health hub and store offering educational talks, wellbeing advice and specialist skincare consultations. A team of registered Nutritional Therapists are on hand in store and online providing advice on key areas of health.

The store provides a UK-wide courier service for its practitioner-level supplements, organic skincare and speciality whole foods.

Contact the store by phone on 01737 223499 or visit to book your free health advice chat, see upcoming events and find educational resources for all your health queries.
Facebook: @IOHUK
Instagram: @insideouthealth

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