How to Lower Cholesterol Naturally Using Supplements

High cholesterol is one of the risk factors for heart disease. While your body does produce a certain amount of this fat that is present in the bloodstream naturally, diet is also a factor. Choosing foods containing high levels of fat can increase the cholesterol in your body.

If your goal is to lower cholesterol levels, you will want to cut back on the amount of saturated fat in your diet. Meat and dairy products are a source of this type of fat, and while you do need to eat protein and some dairy to stay healthy, you should opt for lean cuts of meat and low-fat milk, cheese and yogurt when you can.

Your doctor may recommend a medication for high cholesterol, and you should follow his or her advice. While you are discussing your treatment plan for lowering cholesterol, you may want to ask whether any of the following supplements should be part of the strategy:

Essential Fatty Acids

Essential fatty acids are an important part of the fight against cholesterol, since they help to make it less sticky and likely to attach to the lining of the arteries. The recommended dose is 2,000 milligrams per day, taken with food. Look for a product containing a combination of Omega-3, 6 and 9 fatty acids in a capsule.

Policosinols

Policosinols are sugar cane extracts, and the results of some studies have indicated that they can lower low-density (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol by 19-31 percent and total cholesterol by 13-24 percent. The recommended dose of this supplement is 5-10 mg twice a day. It should be taken on an empty stomach.

Soy Isoflavone

Soy isoflavones are extracted from soy and they are structurally similar to hormones in the human body. When this supplement is ingested, it boosts the production of HDL, or “good” cholesterol and lowers the level of LDL cholesterol. To get the benefit from this supplement, you would have to eat 20-25 grams per day. Tofu burgers, soy pudding and miso soup.

Guggul Lipids

Guggul lipids are an ancient remedy for lowering cholesterol and reducing the redness swelling associated with acne. Derived from the sap of the Commiphora mukul tree, it has been used in India to treat atherosclerosis for hundreds of years. This resin helps the liver to process cholesterol and increases the level of cholesterol that is excreted from the body as solid waste.

Sources: The National Center for Biotechnology Information

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WebMD.com

Best Supplements for Heart Health

Is taking supplements for heart health effective? Taking vitamins and minerals is not a substitute for eating a balanced diet. Ideally, a person should be making sure that what he or she is eating includes whole grains, lean sources of protein, low-fat dairy products, and fruits and vegetables.

To stay healthy, an individual must eat a certain amount of fat in his or her diet. Some foods containing sugar can also be part of a healthy eating plan, as long as they make up only a small percentage of what ends up on the plate.

Taking a multivitamin supplement every day can help to fill in gaps in nutrition when an individual is not able to eat properly. It’s important not to exceed the Dietary Recommended Intakes for vitamins and minerals. Before buying a product, examine the label to find out how much of each ingredient it contains. This information will help a consumer decide whether to use the product or not.

Antioxidants and Heart Disease

Antioxidants, which are Vitamins A (beta carotene), C and E, are very popular dietary supplements. The official position of the American Hearth Association is that it will not recommend taking these vitamins as a way to lower the risk of heart disease until more research has been conducted under controlled conditions to establish a clear health benefit from doing so. The Association recommends eating a variety of foods to get the benefit of these vitamins through diet instead.

Omega-3 Fatty Acid for Lowering Heart Disease Risk

Eating fish regularly can help lower the risk of heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends that people who have not been diagnosed with heart disease eat this food at least twice a week.

How big is a serving of fish? A serving is about three ounces (85 grams). It looks about the same size as a deck of playing cards. Good choices to keep heart disease risk low include:

  • Herring
  • Salmon
  • Trout
  • Tuna

Including fish in the diet can help to decrease the risk of heart disease by approximately 30 percent. To get the maximum benefit from eating fish, make sure that it is prepared in heart-healthy manner. Broiling or baking are much better choices than frying.

Patients who have been diagnosed with heart disease can also benefit from eating fish or taking an Omega-3 fatty acid supplement. An individual with high triglyceride levels can benefit from Omega-3 supplements as well, but he or she should discuss the dosage with a doctor before using this product.

Limitations of Dietary Supplements

Dietary supplements are not meant to replace the foods you need to eat to stay healthy. Instead, they are meant to complement the diet.

Supplements that people can take to help preserve their health are available in a number of forms, including: Capsule, Liquid, Pill, Tablet.

Vitamins and minerals are dietary supplements, as well as certain herbal products taken for health reasons. Omega-3 fatty acids, which can help to reduce the risk of heart disease, are another example of dietary supplements.

Herbal compounds have been used for centuries to treat a number of ailments. Consumers who are looking for a natural way to deal with health concerns may be interested in these products, but being natural doesn’t necessarily mean that a substance is safe.

Dietary supplements can have side effects for some people, and it is possible to have an allergic reaction after ingesting them. They can also react with prescription medications or other supplements the individual is taking. For these reasons, it’s important for someone who is taking supplement or is considering using these products to let his or her doctor know.

The products are not subject to the same standards that prescription medications must adhere to. The strength of the product can vary, depending on the brand or even among batches produced by the same company.

Dietary Supplements for Good Health

People may look to dietary fiber supplements to improve health, but these products have their limitations. The companies manufacturing or producing them cannot claim that taking supplements can cure a specific disease or health condition. Dietary supplements can’t be marketed as being able to prevent disease, either, so taking something as a way not to get sick isn’t going to work.

Do dietary supplements have a place in an overall health plan? A person who wants to use them also needs to adopt a heart-healthy diet plan. Eating well, getting regular exercise, drinking only in moderation and avoiding tobacco products are all important keys to good health and using the supplements can help to build on the benefits that they can provide.

Is Vitamin Water Good for your Health?

Vitamin water is being marketed as a nutritious beverage that is a source of nutrients as well as a way to stay hydrated. Water is essential to good health, but it is a bit dull: it is colorless and tasteless.

This product is offered in a rainbow of eye-catching colors and is flavored as well. Should you be drinking vitamin water to stay healthy, or is sticking to plain water a better choice?

Vitamin water does have nutrients added to it, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be able to absorb them in this preparation. Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat-soluble, and must be ingested as part of a meal to be absorbed. The B vitamins and Vitamin C are water soluble and you can get these nutrients by drinking.

Eating a diet that includes a variety of foods will go a long way toward staying healthy. Vitamin water may contain some nutrients, but it does not give you the benefits of fiber for good health, for example. If you eat well most of the time and take a multivitamin, you are probably getting the vitamins you need to stay healthy without having to turn to this beverage.

Another thing you need to consider when looking at vitamin water is that this product also contains a high level of sugar. It is marketed as a healthier alternative than soft drinks, but when you consider that a single serving contains approximately two tablespoons of fructose, a simple sugar, this allegation doesn’t hold up.

The amount of sweetener in these drinks may be lower than some soft drinks or energy drinks marketed as healthy choices, but it doesn’t mean that vitamin water is a great choice if you are looking for something healthy to drink. If you are looking for something to drink while at the gym, walking, or playing sports, stick to plain water.  It will help to keep you hydrated without any extra calories or adding any extra sugar to your diet.

Are Energy Drinks Safe?

Energy drinks are being promoted as a safe and easy way to give your energy a boost when you feel sluggish. They are popular with young people who may be putting in long hours at work or school. These products are marketed as a way to increase stamina and improve performance.

Main Ingredients of Energy Drinks

Caffeine is one of the main ingredients of energy drinks. As anyone who enjoys their morning cup of Joe understands, this substance helps to increase alertness. It does so by acting on the nervous system, which increases the speed at which it delivers messages to and from the brain.

Another main ingredient of energy drinks is taurine. This is a naturally-occurring amino acid that helps the body to increase protein and get rid of harmful substances. When someone is stressed or engaging in strenuous exercise, they may lose taurine and may choose to consume energy drinks to replace it.

Glucuronolactone is another substance that is naturally found in the body. It is formed when glucose breaks down. Not only does it help to flush out impurities, but it gives an instant energy boost as well.

Use Caution

It may be tempting to grab an energy drink when you are feeling sluggish or you want to give your energy a boost. Although they contain some ingredients that occur in the body naturally, the energy drink contains them at higher levels a person would have in his or her system.

An energy drink can contain as much caffeine as a strong cup of coffee. Some of the product labels caution against giving them to children, while others don’t contain this warning. If you wouldn’t feel comfortable pouring a youngster a cup of coffee, then you probably shouldn’t allow them to consume energy drinks.

Energy drinks can also contain high levels of sugar; some brands contain 5 teaspoons per serving. The link between sugar, processed foods and heart disease is well known. Some people consume several of these beverages on a daily basis, which can contribute to an increased risk of heart disease.

Do not confuse energy drinks with sports drinks, such as Gatorade. A sports drink contains carbohydrates and electrolytes and can help an athlete rehydrate quickly. An energy drink that contains caffeine act as a diuretic and actually increases the level of dehydration in the body.

Energy drinks are safe if used in moderation and on an occasional basis. If your goal is to feel more alert and increase your performance, a better choice (and healthier) choice is to eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly and get enough sleep.

Pine Bark Extract: Scurvy Remedy and Nutritional Supplement

Consumers are turning to diet supplements for optimal health. Pine bark extract is one of them, and it is prized for its antioxidant qualities. It is made from the bark of the Landes (or maritime) pine. This product has been patented in France and is marketed under the name, “Pycnogenol.”

History of Pine Bark Extract

Pine bark extract has been credited with saving the life of French explorer Jacques Cartier’s crew. In 1534, Cartier’s ship was stranded in ice near Quebec City, Canada. The crew had become ill with scurvy, which is caused by insufficient levels of Vitamin C in the diet. Symptoms of scurvy include spots on the skin, as well as spongy gums and tooth loss. If left untreated, scurvy can be fatal.

The crew was cured of scurvy when they took the advice of a Native American who suggested that they drink a tea made from pine bark and needles. The antioxidant properties in the pine bark make it easier for the body to absorb Vitamin C.

Pine Bark Extract for Health

Antioxidants help to repair and protect the cells in your body. Vitamins A, C and E are sources of antioxidants. The antioxidants in pine bark extract are called “oligomeric proanthocyanidins (“OPCs”), and are a very powerful variety.

Antioxidants protect against free radicals, which are the result of exposure to pollutants in the environment. The free radicals contribute to aging and cause tissue damage.

Free radicals have been linked to heart disease, but the results of a recent study conducted by researchers at Stanford University found that taking this supplement does not affect the risk of heart disease. The results of smaller studies have indicated that pine bark extract may be helpful in reducing high blood pressure and aid in weight loss, but other research has found no such health benefits for people taking the supplement.

OPCs can help to reduce inflammation in the body. It has been used as a natural remedy for edema (excess fluid in the body) and varicose veins. People living with arthritis may find relief from their symptoms by consuming pine bark extract.

This supplement can also help to improve the health and appearance of the skin. Pine bark extract is recommended as an anti-aging product.

Where to Find Pine Bark Extract

You can buy pine bark extract in health food stores, as well as from online retailers. It is available in a capsule and a powder form. The usual dose of this supplement is 50 mg, and the supplement can be taken between meals or with food.

Wheat Germ: Part of a Balanced Diet

Regular exercise for health is very important, and eating a balanced diet also plays a role in heart health. Without quality foods, your body will not work as efficiently to burn fat and build muscle.

You can stay healthy by eating flaxseed and other foods, and wheat germ should also be part of your diet. This natural product is chock full of nutrients for health.

What is Wheat Germ?

Wheat germ is part of a grain of wheat. It’s called “germ” because this is the portion that will grow if it’s planted in the ground. The wheat germ is also called “wheat berry” or “wheat kernel.”

Why Eat Wheat Germ

Wheat germ is a source of the following nutrients:

  • Folic Acid
  • Pantothenic Acid
  • Riboflavin
  • Thiamin
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin E
  • Calcium
  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Manganese
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Zinc

Wheat germ is also a good source of protein. If you have cut back on your consumption of meat because you are concerned about the amount of saturated fat in your diet, consider taking wheat germ as a supplement instead.

Folic acid is something that women of childbearing years should take regularly, since it can help prevent neural tube defects in a developing fetus. Taking folic acid regularly also reduces the levels of homocysteine in the body. Elevated homocysteine levels have been linked to several health conditions, including:

  • Dementia
  • Heart disease
  • Osteoporosis bone fractures

How to Get Wheat Germ into Your Diet

Wheat germ can be added to a number of foods. You can use it for baking if you wish; simply replace a half to one cup of flour with the wheat germ when preparing a recipe for quick breads, cookies, pancakes or waffles. You can also add wheat germ to cereal or milk shake. Add a tablespoon or two of water for every quarter cup of wheat germ you use, since this ingredient will absorb moisture and you don’t want to end up with overly dry food.

How to Store Wheat Germ

An unopened container of wheat germ can be stored for up to 12 months at room temperature. It must be kept refrigerated after opening, and can be stored in this manner for up to nine months.

How to Choose the Right Fiber Supplement

Before you can choose the right fiber supplement for good health, you need to think about what result you are trying to achieve. Increasing the amount of fiber you consume can help to promote weight loss, since doing so helps you to feel fuller, longer. If you aren’t hungry between meals, it’s easier to resist the temptation of eating sugar or fat-laden snacks.

Another reason you may have been advised to increase your dietary fiber is to combat the side effects of some types of prescription drugs. If your doctor has put you on a medication that can cause constipation, you may want to avoid the discomfort this problem can cause by increasing your fiber intake.

Your goal in considering a fiber supplement may not be for one of the reasons mentioned above, but as part of an overall health plan. There are good reasons to give your level of dietary fiber a boost, including  improving your immune system function. If you want a healthy heart, eat fiber; it helps to lower your risk of heart disease.

Fiber Supplements for Weight Loss

In a case where your main focus for increasing fiber is to lose weight, you may want to consider a product that you can take three times per day to help you stay full between all meals. Some people who use this method to help with weight loss prefer to take a larger dose in the morning, as they find it helps them to stay on track throughout the day.

If you are looking for a fiber supplement that is easy to incorporate into your busy lifestyle, you may want to consider one that comes in a tablet form, such as Metamucil capsules or wafers (available in apple or cinnamon flavors). Benefiber offers a chewable formulation in an orange flavor that can be taken anywhere, as well as tablets.

Fiber Supplements for Constipation

When the goal is to get (and stay) regular, you probably won’t need to take the fiber supplement more than once a day. You can choose one of the formulations listed above, or consider a powder that mix with water or another liquid before drinking.

If you choose to use one of these products, do follow the directions on the packaging carefully. To avoid a gritty taste, you must mix the powder and the liquid thoroughly. Some manufacturers suggest waiting a few minutes before drinking to give the product enough time to dissolve. Benefiber has individual stick packs with pre-measured amounts that can be added to a water bottle and consumed anywhere.

Fiber supplements are available in a variety of formulations that are meant for people on the go. It can be challenging to get the recommended amount of fiber from diet alone, and these products make it easy to stay on track.

Vitamin Supplements for Men

Women and children aren’t the only segments of the population who can benefit from taking vitamin supplements. Men also look to these products to help them stay healthy, and many men simply don’t get all the nutrients they need from the foods they eat.

Before going to the store to buy a bottle of multi-vitamins, it’s important to understand that while this product can be part of an overall health plan, it’s not not a cure for disease. Think of taking vitamins as a preventive measure that can be incorporated into an overall plan, as opposed to a “magic pill” that is going to ward off disease or stop the aging process.

Men do have different needs than women when it comes to vitamin supplements. They will probably get enough iron from the food they eat, and don’t need to take a multi-vitamin that includes the extra iron contained in products marketed for women.

Vitamins B6 and B12

When men are looking for a multi-vitamin, they should select a product that contains B vitamins, especially Vitamin B6 and B12. Vitamin B6 works to strengthen the immune system, as well as helps the body create neurotransmitters, such as serotonin. This vitamin can be found in foods like beef, wheat bran, seeds and beans.

Vitamin B12 helps in the formation of red blood cells. It also helps to maintain a healthy nervous system. Taking Vitamin B12 also helps to improve memory and aids in digestion. To get this nutrient from the foods you eat, make sure to include beef, pork, liver and kidney in the diet. Other sources of Vitamin B12 include eggs, cheese, milk and fish.

A person who doesn’t get enough B12, either through diet or by taking it in pill form, is at a higher risk for developing depression, anemia and nerve damage. A B12 deficiency can cause fatigue.

Vitamin H

Vitamin H is another B vitamin and helps to maintain healthy hair and skin. While this vitamin can’t stimulate hair growth, it can help men to avoid hair loss. This vitamin must be present in the body for it to metabolize fats and carbohydrates, as well as amino acids.

Choosing the Right Vitamins

When you are looking for a multi-vitamin preparation for men, do read the label carefully. Look for products that have been manufactured in the United States. Imported products may contain extra ingredients that have the potential to be harmful. A product that has a Consumerlab, NSF International or US Pharmacopeia seal contains only the ingredients listed on the label.

Fiber Supplements and Your Health

It can be challenging to get the recommended level of fiber in your diet solely from the foods you eat. People who are living with Crohn’s Disease or Irritable Bowel Syndrome may be told they should increase their daily fiber intake.

Before making a decision to start taking fiber supplements on your own, it’s a good idea to discuss your plan with your doctor. He or she can recommend a product that will help you get the results you are looking for, especially if you are currently taking any medication. Taking a fiber supplement can interfere with how your body absorbs certain drugs, such as aspirin, carbamazepine (anti-seizure drug also used to treat nerve pain) and warfarin (an anticoagulant).

The majority of people only get about half the recommended level of fiber (20-35 grams) from the foods they eat. Fruits and vegetables are an important source of fiber, followed by whole grain products. Including fiber in your diet provides a number of health benefits, including:

  • Bone health
  • Building muscle
  • Improved immune system
  • Weight control

Fiber supplements are considered safe to take on a daily basis. They work to soften the stool and ease the discomfort of constipation. If you decide that you are going to try one of the fiber supplement products available, be sure that you drink plenty of fluids. Not doing so can make a problem with constipation worse. Another helpful tip for those who are going to use a fiber supplement is to start slowly to avoid problems with gas.

Fiber supplements are available in a number of formulations. Most people are familiar with products like Metamucil® powder. This product is mixed with water and the manufacturer recommends that it be taken three times daily. If you are going to increase your fiber intake, be sure that you are getting enough liquids as well. Plan to drink at least eight ounces of water for every serving of fiber powder.

Fiber supplements are also available in capsule forms, for people who are concerned about the texture of a powder product and don’t want to drink something that feel gritty on the tongue. Plan to drink at least eight ounces of water if you choose to take this type of fiber supplement.

Manufacturers have also introduced high-fiber wafers to appeal to consumers who want to get their fiber on the go. These products come packaged in single servings that can easily be added to a packed lunch, backpack, tote or purse. The wafers are available in several flavors to give them more of a cookie-like taste.