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Lower LDL with Berberine

Looking for a more natural approach to lowering your LDL (bad) cholesterol? Cooper Clinic Cardiologist Nina Radford, MD, shares scientific insight on how a berberine supplement can support heart health by lowering cholesterol.

There is a bounty of epidemiologic data that describes a correlation between elevated LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and the increased risk of cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and stroke. Furthermore, there is a large body of clinical trial evidence demonstrating a strong association between a reduction in LDL cholesterol and lowered risk of experiencing a cardiovascular event in individuals with and without clinical cardiovascular disease.

Supplement substitutes for statins

Based on one’s cardiovascular risk profile, health care providers may recommend non-prescription drug therapy for individuals with LDL levels greater than 100 mg/dL or for patients who may not be able to tolerate statin medications.

The mainstay on non-drug treatment of high LDL cholesterol is dietary modification. Practical dietary approaches to decreasing LDL cholesterol include:

  • Eliminate trans fats, which are commonly found in commercially-baked goods.
  • Substitute monounsaturated fats, such as canola oil, olive oil and avocado oil for saturated fats, like fatty meats, cream, butter, cheese, palm oil and coconut oil.
  • Eat more soluble fiber, which can be found in oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley, pectin and wheat dextrin.

For those who already adhere to a heart healthy diet, a number of supplements have also been shown to reduce LDL such as red yeast rice, plant stanols and sterols. A relative newcomer to this group of supplements is berberine.

Berberine is an alkaloid found in the root, fruit or bark of a number of plants including:

    • Goldenseal
    • Oregon grape
    • Barberry
    • Tree turmeric

Berberine Complex

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Berberine is thought to reduce LDL cholesterol through a number of physiological mechanisms. In a meta-analysis of six trials, 229 patients with high cholesterol who took between 900-1,500 mg of berberine supplements per day saw improved LDL cholesterol levels with reductions of 20-50 mg/dL (about 25% reduction from baseline).

Cooper Complete now offers Berberine Complex for glucose metabolism support and cardiometabolic balance. This custom formulation contains berberine along with alpha lipoic acid to sustain proper insulin function and grape seed extract for additional antioxidant support.

Berberine may lower blood sugar or blood pressure, so if you take medication for diabetes or hypertension be sure to carefully monitor your blood sugar and blood pressure while taking this supplement. Other potential side effects of berberine include constipation, diarrhea, abdominal distension and bitter taste. Berberine is unsafe to take if you are pregnant or breast feeding.

While berberine, red yeast rice and plant stanols or sterols have been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol, it is important to remember there is little evidence and long-term safety data supporting improved clinical outcomes with these supplements. It is important to talk to your health care provider about any supplements you plan to take.

Article provided by Nina B. Radford, MD, Cooper Clinic Cardiologist and Director of Clinical Research.

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