Secrets to Lowering Cholesterol With Nutrition And Natural Supplements, Safely
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According to a nationally representative Consumer Reports survey, almost half of American adults think that supplement makers test their products for efficacy, and more than half believe that manufacturers prove their products are safe before selling them.
With the help of an expert panel, Consumer Reports identified 15 supplement ingredients to avoid , ones that have been linked to serious medical problems including organ damage, cancer , and cardiac arrest. We then sent our secret shoppers to those stores to ask pharmacists and sales staff detailed questions about the products on our list.
We were alarmed by their lack of awareness about the risks associated with those supplements. Our modern love of dietary supplements began in when Linus Pauling, the chemist and two-time Nobel Prize winner, declared that taking 3, mg of vitamin C every day could abolish the common cold.
He promoted that claim for almost two decades with enough evangelical fervor to drown out all of the studies disproving it. The vitamin C craze he touched off helped to propel a burgeoning industry that by the s was peddling a wide array of supplement products with increasingly bold claims. When the FDA stepped in to regulate, the industry fought back. Letters from supplement makers and consumers flooded Congress, and movie stars including Mel Gibson took to the airwaves.
Celery: Health Benefits & Nutrition Facts
All of them were demanding the same thing: freedom of choice in health products. Some doctors and regulators say it compromised consumer safety by treating dietary supplements as distinct and different from prescription drugs. Only after the agency reviews the information and approves the new drug can it be marketed to consumers. They also have to notify the agency of new ingredients. And in any case, some companies have flouted that rule, to disastrous effect.
In Hawaii in , for example, an outbreak of liver injuries that led to 47 hospitalizations, three liver transplants, and a death was traced to aegeline, a new ingredient in certain OxyElite Pro weight-loss supplements that manufacturers had failed to report to the FDA. Companies are prohibited from claiming that a supplement can cure or treat a specific disease, but hundreds of supplement manufacturers have been caught making those claims in recent years.
There are about 15, dietary-supplement manufacturers whose products are sold in the U. Data obtained by Consumer Reports through a Freedom of Information Act request show that since , the agency has inspected fewer than of those companies per fiscal year. Part of the problem is a lack of resources.
Since DSHEA became law, the number of supplement products has grown from about 4, in to more than 90, today. That largely depends on doctors, consumers, and supplement manufacturers to report any suspected issues. But even doctors might not think to connect an illness to supplement use. And if they do, they might not think to call the FDA. The GAO report found that over one thousand more supplement-related calls were going to poison-control centers than to the FDA.
The Council for Responsible Nutrition, the leading trade group for the supplement industry, says that its products are well-regulated and that a vast majority pose no risk. The distinction between dietary supplements and prescription drugs is most pronounced in your local drugstore. Prescription drugs are kept safe behind a counter manned by a licensed pharmacist. Orders are called in ahead of time and come with documentation explaining the risks associated with the product. Supplements come with no such safeguards.
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You can pluck them off a drugstore shelf without thinking twice. Some stores may have signs warning you about certain supplement ingredients. But if you have specific questions, you might be out of luck. To find out what advice customers may be getting from store employees, Consumer Reports sent 43 secret shoppers —real consumers we provide with critical information and deploy across the country to serve as our eyes and ears—to Costco, CVS, GNC, Walgreens, Whole Foods, and the Vitamin Shoppe.
Many gave information that was either misleading or flat-out wrong.
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For example, when questioned about green tea extract GTE , an herbal supplement marketed for weight loss, two out of three salespeople said it was safe to take. None warned that the herb has been found to alter the effectiveness of a long list of drugs, including certain antidepressants and anticlotting drugs. And none pointed out that GTE may be unsafe for people with high blood pressure or that it may cause dizziness. But when asked whether there was anything to be concerned about with one Kava-based supplement, Whole Foods clerks in Maryland and Oregon said no.
Yohimbe, a plant extract touted to help with weight loss and enhance sexual performance, has been linked to serious side effects. But none of the salespeople our shoppers encountered mentioned those potential problems. Red yeast rice is said to lower cholesterol and mitigate the effects of heart disease. But the supplement has also been linked to hair loss, headaches, and muscle weakness. Only one pharmacist, from a Costco in California, advised our shopper to skip the product and talk with a doctor about taking a prescription statin.
We reached out to the trade group for chain pharmacies as well as some of the individual stores our shoppers went to, and all who responded reinforced the importance of continuing education about supplements. I am not your doctor, nor your nutritionist. I have no idea what you should eat. Maybe the government should adopt that mantra, too. LDL is widely considered to be an unhealthy cholesterol, while HDL is conventionally considered good.
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Eat to lower your cholesterol | Heart and Stroke Foundation
DOSE Experts recommend having at least two to three portions a day. That is equivalent to half a litre of soya milk and a soya yogurt. WHAT Olive oil and rapeseed oil, which contain mainly monounsaturated fats, neither increase nor decrease cholesterol levels. These fats are also cleared easily by the body. PROOF Studies suggest that replacing saturated fat such as lard and butter with these oils results in a fall in cholesterol. It may also stop LDL causing inflammation in the arteries, a key risk factor for cardiovascular disease. DOSE Two tablespoons a day used in cooking.
A study found that consuming this amount of olive oil each day decreased total cholesterol by eight per cent in six weeks. Generally, studies suggest that virgin olive oil is best. EXPERT ADVICE Polyunsaturated fats from sunflower oils were considered to be as good as olive oils, but recently it has emerged that having too much of them causes oxidation, meaning they may increase furring of the arteries.
However, remember that polyunsaturated fats are still better than butter and lard. WHAT Oats contain compounds called beta glucans, which give them their paste-like consistency.
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DOSE Three grams of beta glucans a day. Why do we need cholesterol if it can be so bad for our bodies? Cholesterol is a fatty substance produced by the liver and used to build cell walls, create a protective glove around nerves and to make other chemicals such as hormones. LDL is like a juggernaut — big clumps of fat and protein that trundle along the arteries and can only be cleared from our system by the liver.
As it travels, fat can break away and enter the artery walls, becoming embedded. This build-up — called atherosclerosis — causes artery walls to narrow so blood cannot get through, resulting in blood clots that can trigger a heart attack or stroke. It is much smaller in size and hoovers up fat deposits from the artery wall as it moves around the body.
What causes levels to rise? They are controlled by our genes and diet. Eating foods high in saturated fat, such as butter, cream, processed meat such as sausages and fast food, means that our cholesterol goes up. How is cholesterol measured? A blood test at your GP surgery can measure this. The result gives volume of cholesterol in a measurement called millimoles per litre of blood — or mmol.
People at high risk of heart disease — those with high blood pressure, who are overweight, older and may have family history of the disease — are told to get their total cholesterol lower, to 4mmol, with an LDL of 2mmol. The higher you score, the more chance of suffering heart disease in the next decade.
Scores for total cholesterol above 8mmol will mean the person is at medium to high risk of cardiovascular disease CVD , depending on age and blood pressure.
Even a reading of 5 or 6mmol may be too high if you have other risk factors, such as rheumatoid arthritis. Good news: You do not have to give up on steak, red wine and dessert to lower your cholesterol. How often do I need to get a test?