Are there alternative or complementary cholesterol therapies?

Treating High Cholesterol With Alternative Treatments

If you are using or considering any alternative or complementary treatment for cholesterol, talk with your doctor and other healthcare providers. They can tell you how best to use these along with your conventional treatment.

There are two alternative or complementary therapies that may help control your cholesterol levels. They are:

  • soy
  • cholestin

There are some alternative treatments that need to be studied more. These include:

  • fenugreek
  • gugulipid
  • garlic

It's important to know that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not regulate dietary supplements such as fenugreek and garlic in the same way that it regulates medicines. Supplements do not have to go through the same tests for safety and effectiveness. Also, just because a substance is natural does not necessarily mean it is safe.

Does Soy Help Lower Cholesterol?

Results of several studies in animals and humans have shown that eating soy protein in place of animal protein may have some benefits. Soy may help lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.

Sources of soy protein. Soy is found in soy milk, soy flour, tofu, and texturized soy protein. Soy protein is available as an extract, too. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration allows some soy products to carry the health claim, "Diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol that include 25 g of soy protein may reduce the risk of heart disease."

Foods can carry this claim only if:

  • They are low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol.
  • They contain at least 6.25 g of soy per serving.

How much you need. To show a significant effect on cholesterol, you would need to take in about 25 g of soy protein a day. Here is the amount of soy protein in common soy products:

  • 1 cup soy milk: 3 to 10 g
  • 4 ounces tofu: 5 to 13 g
  • ½ cup textured soy protein: 6 to 11 g
  • ½ cup soy flour: 20 g

So, you can see that you need to eat a lot of soy protein to receive any benefit. This may not be practical for most people.