Tips for Diabetics to Lower Cholesterol Naturally

Tips for Diabetics to Lower Cholesterol Naturally

High cholesterol is a dangerous risk factor that elevates risk of heart disease, circulatory problems and blood vessel complications in people with diabetes. Statins and a variety of other medications are often prescribed to lower cholesterol, but you may not be able to tolerate the side effects, which can include muscle pain and liver damage. Natural means of reducing cholesterol may be more effective and sustainable.

Here are some dietary suggestions if you want to lower your cholesterol naturally:

1. Soluble fiber

A diet high in healthy, natural fiber is not just for staying regular. Soluble fiber, also called viscous fiber, is found in a variety of foods, including:

  • Oatmeal
  • Oat bran
  • Dried beans & peas
  • Barley
  • Flaxseed
  • Nuts
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Prunes
  • Carrots
  • Psyllium

Soluble fiber is a powerful natural cholesterol fighter because in the intestines it binds with LDL cholesterol and helps make elimination more efficient. Your job: eat at least 10 grams of soluble fiber each day, or 30+ grams of mixed fiber: this can result in 2-3% overall lower cholesterol, and up to 7% lower LDL cholesterol.

2. Phytosterols.

These compounds are related to cholesterol, but are healthier and compete with cholesterol for absorption in the digestive tract. Natural phytosterols are found abundantly in fruits, vegetables, vegetable oils, nuts, legumes and whole grains. It may be difficult to eat enough phytosterols from those sources to make an impact, so many foods are fortified with phytosterols, including some vegetable spreads, juices, yogurts, and soy and rice milks. The National Cholesterol Education Program has recommended 2 grams of phytosterols per day if your cholesterol is high, and the FDA allows labeling to notify consumers that 1.3 grams per day, “may reduce the risk of heart disease.”

3. Niacin

Niacin is a natural B vitamin that is a basic fuel for your body's metabolism. The RDA for Niacin is 16 mg per day for men and 14 mg for women. Higher doses of niacin are effective in lowering cholesterol, and 2000 mg supplements are often prescribed to increase HDL cholesterol by up to a third, and simultaneously reduce LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Talk with your doctor about your need for increased niacin.

4. Red yeast rice

This is a type of fungus that grows on rice and has been used in traditional medicines for centuries. Modern studies demonstrate compounds in red yeast rice help block production of cholesterol in the liver – it essentially acts as a natural statin drug, and is sometimes suggested as an alternative for people with high cholesterol who cannot tolerate statins. One caution: red yeast rice is sold in the United States as a dietary supplement and not subject to FDA regulations, so research individual products and brands carefully.

Three more foods to consider adding to your natural cholesterol-busting diet are:

  • Garlic has the ability to lower cholesterol, at least temporarily, is supported by several studies
  • Ginger has demonstrated promising results in initial studies, and high dose supplements may reduce total cholesterol and triglyceride levels
  • Flaxseed contains omega-3 fatty acids that help lower LDL cholesterol, without impacting healthier HDL cholesterol

Products marketed as cholesterol busters that should be avoided or at least viewed skeptically are those containing soy proteins, policosanol and guggulipid: studies have determined the compounds in these products are largely ineffective at helping reduce LDL or overall cholesterol levels.

The natural tools are available to lower your cholesterol and better manage your diabetes – seek these foods out and make them an important part of your diet.