Specialists in heart health agree: Some cholesterol-reducing supplements can be worth trying, on top of a healthy diet and regular exercise. Just make sure you choose them wisely — and use them wisely.
If, after trying a low-fat diet and regular exercise, you’re still considering a supplement to fix high cholesterol, remember the following advice:
1. Consult your doctor first. She can tell you when you need a prescription medication. If you decide to take a supplement, talk to your doctor about what complications you may be risking, given your total health picture.
2. Don’t switch on your own. Changing from cholesterol-reducing prescription drugs to supplements or adding a supplement to a drug regimen is potentially dangerous. Consult your doctor first.
3. Recheck your cholesterol after eight weeks on any cholesterol-cutting supplement. If your numbers aren’t better, discuss continued use of the supplement with your doctor.
4. Avoid supplements if you’re pregnant or breast-feeding. And everyone should read package labels to see if there is any reason, such as a preexisting condition or a drug interaction, why you should not be taking a particular supplement.
5. For more info, read Natural Remedies for a Healthy Heart by David Heber, MD, PhD (Avery, 1998).