Drink your way to a healthier heart:
5 refreshing herbal teas to help lower cholesterol 

Our bodies need cholesterolWithout it, we couldn't convert sunshine into vitamin D, build and maintain our cell membranes or manufacture vital hormones. So why does cholesterol get so much bad press?

The problem isn’t exactly what it is, but how much, and what type of cholesterol  we have in our systems. High cholesterol levels ce rtainly are bad news. Medical experts agree that levels above 5 mmol / litre can increase the risk of heart disease and narrowing of the arteries, and is a common cause of heart attacks and strokes.

Television adverts constantly bombard us with products aimed at lowering cholesterol, but what many people don’t realise is that nature already has a wonderful abundance of resources to help us tackle this growing problem. Many of the products that line the supermarket shelves contain plant sterols and other gifts from nature’s larder, which if included in your daily diet can help reduce the levels of harmful cholesterol or (LDL). But as well as making those all important changes to your diet , you may be surprised to learn that there are a variety of medicinal herbal beverages which can help bring your cholesterol down to a manageable level.

Here are a few of our favourites!

Rooibus Tea

Rooibus or “red bush” tea comes from Aspalanthus linearis, a broom like plant native to South Africa. It can be easily recognised by its unmistakeable rich, red, mahogany colour. Being a member of the legume family, it has very little in common with either green or black tea. Naturally caffeine free, it’s extremely high in anti-oxidants, and unlike traditional tea, does not contain tannins. Promising studies recently documented in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, show it may be effective in helping to reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides , whilst at the same time, increase the amount of “good” cholesterol (or HDL) our bodies need to maintain a healthy heart.

Apple Cider Vinegar

 We’re not suggesting you glug this straight from the bottle! Vinegar has been used medicinally for hundreds of years to treat a wide range of aliments from skin complaints to digestive issues. More recently however, scientists have begun to investigate how regular consumption of apple cider vinegar may be beneficial for people looking to lower their cholesterol without resorting to medication.

Try taking a teaspoon in a mug of hot water with honey, lemon and cinnamon. For the best results, look to purchase organic, cold pressed apple cider vinegar, which will contain higher levels of the all important active ingredients.

Dandelion Root “Coffee”

Roasted dandelion root is a delicious alternative to regular coffee, and has long been a firm favourite with our customers.  Evidence recently reported in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences suggests that when high cholesterol diets were supplemented with dandelion root for a period of 4 weeks, levels of triglycerides and LDL were significantly reduced.

Green Tea 

Green tea contains powerful anti-oxidants called poly-phenols, which are thought to reduce inflammation in the body. They work by combating damage from free radicals (destructive compounds that can damage a cell’s DNA). As we already mentioned, we need cholesterol so our bodies can perform vital functions, but if there is inflammation in the arteries, caused by cell damage, the flow of cholesterol can become impaired. Green tea not only helps to reduce the inflammation linked to heart disease, but in trials, was also shown to lower cholesterol in both people and animals.

Ginger

Ginger is a wonderful gift for our cardiovascular health . It stimulates blood circulation, can help reduce inflammation, and is generally considered very safe to use (as well as tasting fabulous!) Ginger tea on its own can be rather hot, so if you’re not used to the flavour, we recommend trying a few slices in warm water with lemon to begin with. The braver amongst you could also try adding a few flakes of chilli, as this contains capsaicin (also known to have a beneficial effect on cholesterol levels.) This one’s a real winter warmer!

General Advice

If tea isn’t your thing, but you’re still looking to lower your cholesterol, or reduce the dosage of statin drugs you’re currently taking, there’s a wide variety of products on the market to help you look after your heart.

Products which may be beneficial include;

Red Rice Yeast helps to lower high cholesterolNapiers Red Rice Yeast Capsules which naturally contain phytosterols and monacolins, including Monacolin K , a compound known to block the production of cholesterol, and Policosanol , a natural extract from rice cane. Both are known to be beneficial for heart health. 

Alpha-lipoic acid contains high levels of vital anti-oxidants, and has proven popular with customers looking to maintain normal blood cholesterol levels.

Shitake mushrooms have traditionally been used to lower cholesterol.

As common sense dictates, it’s always advisable to speak to your healthcare practitioner if you have any worries or concerns about trying any of the above suggestions, or if you’re already following a course of prescribed medication. If you have any questions about this article, our products, or simply want some friendly advice, our on-site herbalist can be contacted on advice@napiers.net and is always happy to help.

© Napiers Herbals Ltd 2014 • Edinburgh and Glasgow • Herbalists and Medical Botanists since 1860
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