High cholesterol, or hypercholesterolemia, is among the major risk factors associated with cardiovascular diseases. However, right in your kitchen spice rack, there could be many spices and herbs to lower cholesterol.
The most common high cholesterol treatment is statins—a drug therapy linked to all sorts of serious adverse effects that include type 2 diabetes, liver damage, insomnia, cancer, and even an increased incidence of death.
On the other hand, cholesterol-lowering herbs and spices are generally safer and far less toxic than statin drugs. Some of the most popular herbs to lower cholesterol have been used for centuries in many cultures.
In this article, I will take you on a tour of my herb and spice rack, and detail how to lower cholesterol with a variety of my kitchen herbs, including powerhouse ingredients like garlic, ginger, turmeric, and more.
22 Cholesterol Lowering Herbs You Can Find in Your Kitchen
The famous Greek physician Hippocrates once said: “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.” Basically, food is medicine.
From the ancient Romans and Greeks to the Egyptians, Chinese, and Indians, each culture has long touted the healing power of cooking with herbs and spices.
Today, science backs up what these civilizations have been saying for thousands of years. Many herbs and spices can help reduce the risk of a number of heart disease risk factors, especially high cholesterol.
An imbalance of high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and low amounts of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is thought to increase the risk of stroke or heart attack.
If you want to manage high cholesterol, what you eat is very important. This is where a plant-based diet with lots of omega-3 fats is a good idea. The addition of a variety of spices and herbs to your food also contain cardio-protective antioxidants that are vital for lowering cholesterol naturally.
Want to know how to lower cholesterol with herbs and spices in your kitchen?
Read on to learn about 22 fantastic spices and herbs to lower cholesterol below.
1. Garlic (Allium Sativum)
Garlic (Allium sativum) is among the great herbs to lower cholesterol and improve circulation naturally due to one of its sulfur-containing compounds—allicin.
The herb has been recognized as a treatment and preventative for many metabolic and cardiovascular diseases, which include atherosclerosis and hyperlipidemia.
Research also suggests that cholesterol levels drop when garlic is consumed on a regular basis. So, the more garlic you use, the lower your cholesterol drops.
A study published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2006 found that raw garlic had a significant effect in reducing cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and the researchers concluded that garlic may play an important role in atherosclerosis prevention.
Other studies have shown that garlic powder can lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol in patients with high cholesterol and coronary heart disease. At the same time, HDL cholesterol had been increased.
Garlic is also able to prevent blood clots. This is important for people with high cholesterol since blood clots develop around the heart, and the consequences can be fatal.
However, since garlic does thin the blood, consult your doctor before using it.
2. Ginger (Zingiber Officinale)
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is the most widely used dietary condiment in the world, and has been used by the Chinese and Indians to treat health problems for more than 4,700 years.
It was also actually a priceless commodity during the Roman Empire trade due to its medicinal properties. The therapeutic benefits are known to derive from ginger’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich gingerols.
When it comes to lowering cholesterol, ginger may be one of the best kitchen remedies. One of the latest studies published in the journal Pharmacognosy Research in 2013 found that ginger extract reduced levels of LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and total cholesterol in rats.
Other research published in the Saudi Medical Journal in 2008 found that three grams of ginger powder in three divided doses significantly reduced LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglyceride levels in 85 people with high cholesterol.
Both raw ginger and ginger powder are excellent for cooking, while ginger can also be used to make an excellent tea.
3. Fenugreek Seeds (Trigonella Foenum-Graecum)
Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) is an annual herb from the pea family that is also called Greek hay. The seeds have a somewhat bitter taste that is similar to celery.
It is a popular spice used to stabilize and thicken food, while it has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicines.
As a medicine, fenugreek seeds could benefit people with heart conditions, including those with high levels of cholesterol and trigylcerides. Compounds in fenugreek seeds called steroidal saponins can inhibit both cholesterol production of the liver and cholesterol absorption in the intestines.
One study published in the journal Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes, and Essential Fatty Acids in 1997 found that eating 2.5 grams (g) of fenugreek twice daily for three months significantly lowered cholesterol and triglyceride levels without affecting HDL cholesterol in people with type 2 diabetes.
Another study published in the journal Food Chemistry in 2013 showed that the ethyl acetate extract of the fenugreek seeds had significant antioxidant activity and a cholesterol-lowering effect in cholesterol-fed rats.
4. Turmeric (Curcuma Longa)
You cannot mention cholesterol-lowering herbs without talking about turmeric (Curcuma longa) and its active compound curcumin, which is known to protect the body from atherosclerosis and suppress cholesterol accumulation in the blood.
Research on rabbits fed a high-fat diet suggests that turmeric can reduce LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, and also prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. Oxidized cholesterol can lead to atherosclerosis.
An eight-week study published in the journal Drugs in R&D in 2008 found that curcumin was equal to, or more effective than, diabetes drugs at reducing inflammation and oxidative stress when treating high cholesterol in 72 patients.
Turmeric is a perfect spice in Indian dishes, tea, eggs, and some soups. You can also juice with turmeric, and it’s best when combined with carrots and sweet potatoes.
5. Basil (Ocimum Basilicum)
Basil (Ocimum basilicum) is a great addition to pesto and pasta sauces in Italian cuisine. It is also common in Thai, Indonesian, and Vietnamese cuisines.
Basil is also used in traditional Ayurvedic and Tamil medicine. It’s part of the mint family, which also includes oregano, rosemary, marjoram, and mint.