Cholesterol is an essential fat that is produced in the liver. Many of us are guided by the wrong impression that all kinds of cholesterol are harmful for the body. However, the truth is that cholesterol is essential for the healthy function and absorption of minerals and vitamins into the organs.
Certain kinds of cholesterol, known as HDL cholesterol is essential for the body, while LDL or bad cholesterol in excess can block the blood vessels and arteries, leading to stroke and heart attacks. Controlling your diet is very essential in the maintenance of optimum blood cholesterol levels. There are several herbs that can be incorporated in your daily diet for controlling your cholesterol levels and also for leading a healthy and happy life.
Herbs for Cholesterol
The efficacy of garlic as a health giving and health sustaining herb has been proved through several researches on the bulb in recent years. Garlic contains chemical compounds such as allicin and ajoene that have the capacity to bind the excess fat and flush it out of our system. A single garlic clove a day is enough to prevent cholesterol and 3-4 cloves can be crushed and eaten raw for treating high cholesterol levels in the body.
Apart from this, garlic also boosts the immunity and reduces blood pressure, which are sure ways to keep your heart healthy and well functioning. As the offensive aroma of garlic is a great turn off, one can also avail of garlic pills, which are available in select drug stores.
Apart from being an exquisite natural remedy for treating coughs, colds and other circulatory disorders, the rhizome is also famed for its cholesterol reducing properties. The pungent root is rich in antioxidants that help in controlling oxidative damage to the body. Controlling free radical damage also helps in controlling the oxidation of bad or LDL cholesterol in the arteries that cause heart disease. Ginger is also known to suppress the absorption of dietary fat during the digestion process and prevents the amalgamation of cholesterol in the liver.
As ginger is a flavorful spice, it can be added to your food or eaten raw. Ginger tea or extracts too are much preferred ways of consumption. Even though ginger is a heart healthy herb, it may not be a comprehensive treatment for high cholesterol levels and hence should not be considered as a complete medication, but a supplementary treatment for treating high blood cholesterol levels.
Cayenne is a medicinal herb generally recommended for treating circulatory disorders, digestive problems, pain control, and arthritis. However, its cholesterol reducing property is the most sought after. Cayenne contains capsaicin, an alkaloid that has antioxidant capacities several times higher than vitamin C. Capsaicin reduces the chances of formation of plaque, as a result of high LDL cholesterol in the blood.
This helps in protecting the heart from blockages that can be life threatening. Cayenne supplements are available for consumption. A preparation that contains about 0.75% capsaicin and 30-120 mg of cayenne is ideal for reducing cholesterol. It should be taken thrice a day.
A heart healthy herb, Hawthorne is known to dilate the blood vessels and reduce blood pressure and cholesterol as well. The proanthocyanidins in Hawthorne is responsible for the reduction in cholesterol levels in the body. The atherosclerotic plaques that are already present too are reduced in size with the intake of Hawthorne, due to its power in stabilizing the protein collagen and preventing atherosclerotic lesions.
The flowers, berries, and leaves of Hawthorne are excellent for dilating the coronary arteries and encouraging blood supply to the heart. A tea prepared from Hawthorne can be taken thrice a day. Hawthorne tinctures too are available as alternatives.
An herb that is produced by grinding the stigma of the saffron flower, saffron is very popular for its subtle taste and aroma. A popular ingredient in Asian cuisine, saffron contains an active chemical compound known as crocetin that has cholesterol lowering properties.
Saffron is also known to improve blood circulation. Though recommended dosages of saffron do not cause any side effects, high dosages can act as a uterine stimulant and hence not recommended for pregnant women. Children too must be exempted from giving saffron, as it can be toxic.
Recent research on this aromatic herb has revealed the fact that cinnamon has the capacity to reduce triglycerides and cholesterol levels in the body and help in better metabolism of fats. Cinnamon is also known to be a powerhouse of antioxidants. Half a teaspoon of cinnamon contains as much as antioxidants present in half a cup of blueberries. Cinnamon can be added to any herbal tea as a flavoring agent or used as a spice in dishes.
Cinnamon tea too can be prepared by adding a teaspoon of cinnamon to one cup of water and steeping for ten minutes before consuming it with honey. Taking up to 6 grams of cinnamon a day has proved to reduce the cholesterol levels by about 18 percent. Cinnamon is also an herb that is excellent for reducing blood sugar levels and hence good for general well being of the body.
With four thousand years of solid medicinal usage and supported by countless research, Turmeric is now known to reduce cholesterol as well. Turmeric is known to keep the LDL or low-density lipoproteins in check, thereby avoiding the possibility of clogged arteries. Due to its blood thinning properties, turmeric is also good for keeping blood clots under check.
Though turmeric is a very common spice that is added to culinary dishes, these quantities may be too less to cause any significant change in cholesterol levels. One can therefore take capsules or extracts of curcumin regularly after consulting an herbalist.
A native herb of China Psylluim has abundant powers in reducing and expelling cholesterol from the body, as a result of its mucilaginous nature. The mucilage present in Psyllium expands as it comes into contact with water.
This natural and soluble fibre is also credited with the capacity to absorb cholesterol into the mucilage as it expands, and prevents the fatty substance from entering the bloodstream, causing problems. Psyllium also helps in converting cholesterol into bile acids and then boosts bile acid excretion as well. One teaspoon of Psyllium along with ten ounces of water should be taken every day after meal. It can also be taken along with cereals along with your breakfast.