Lowering cholesterol decreases your risk of heart disease

Cholesterol is a fatty substance that is found in the fats (lipids) in your blood. While your body needs cholesterol to continue building healthy cells, having high cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease.

Cholesterol is carried in your blood by proteins, and when the two combine they are called lipoproteins. There are harmful and protective lipoproteins known as LDL and HDL, or bad and good cholesterol.

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL): LDL carries cholesterol from your liver to the cells that need it. If there is too much cholesterol for the cells to use, it can build up in the artery walls, leading to disease of the arteries. For this reason, LDL cholesterol is known as bad cholesterol.

High-density lipoprotein (HDL): HDL carries cholesterol away from the cells and back to the liver, where it is either broken down or passed out of the body as a waste product. For this reason, it is referred to as good cholesterol and higher levels are better.

The amount of cholesterol in the blood (both LDL and HDL) can be measured with a blood test. The recommended cholesterol levels in the blood vary between healthy adults and those at higher risk....

Few natural products have been proven to reduce cholesterol, but some might be helpful. Cholesterol-lowering supplements and products may include: artichoke, barley, beta-sitosterol (found in oral supplements and some margarines), garlic, oat bran (found in oatmeal and whole oats), sitostanol (found in oral supplements and some margarines)....