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What Foods Contain Natural Statins?

By Erin J. Hill
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Statins are medications designed to lower cholesterol. There are various foods which contain natural statins or statin-like properties. These have been clinically shown to help lower bad cholesterol just as well or almost as well as many prescription medications. Foods may include certain dairy products, whole grains, almonds and other nuts, fatty fish, pure sugar cane, apple cider vinegar, and many vegetables.

Many sources of protein may act as natural statins when eaten regularly. These can include almonds and some other nuts, as well as fatty fish like salmon or tilapia. They seem to function thanks to their naturally high levels of fiber, in the case of nuts, and stenols. Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish and certain lentils, have also proven beneficial in cholesterol management. Since almonds and other nuts are high in calories, they should be eaten in moderation.

Pure sugar cane and apple cider vinegar both have substances which have been shown to lower bad cholesterol. It is not fully understood how these substances work, although it is believed sugar cane has plant stenols similar to many whole grains and vegetables. The acid content in apple cider vinegar may be responsible for its heart-healthy benefits, although not enough research has been conducted on its medicinal properties to know for sure.

Foods that are high in fiber have also been shown to significantly reduce cholesterol levels. These can include whole grains, apples, potato skins, oats, and flaxseed. Refined carbohydrates do not have the same benefits since they have been heavily processed and most of the beneficial fiber has been removed. Examples of refined carbohydrates include white bread, baked goods, and enriched pasta. Taking an over the counter fiber supplement may also be beneficial.

Certain dairy products, mainly low-fat milk and yogurt, have been fortified with plant stenols to provide natural statins to these foods. They may be added in the cow's diet or during the packaging process. Certain other dairy products, like some cheeses, may also have them added. Tofu and tofu containing products may also act as natural statins.

There may also be supplements containing certain herbs and vitamins which have been proven to lower high cholesterol. Most of these have not been heavily studied, but there is generally no harm in using them. Before beginning any natural treatments, it is advised that patients speak with a health care professional to determine the best course of action for their condition.

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Discussion Comments

By anon996223 — On Jul 26, 2016

I tried a strictly vegan diet for three months when I found out I had high cholesterol. It did nothing. Doc's conclusion: it's endogenous.

Statins make me feel ill, so I don't take them. They're also the most expensive meds on my prescriptions, which is odd. Aren't they natural products extracted from vegetable sources?

By anon992496 — On Sep 12, 2015

Zocor was my Doctors choice for my cholesterol, but he switched my blood pressure meds and I came to the point I could barely walk. I am on natural treatment: garlic, oats, high fiber etc. I have regained some muscle function but still working on that. Don't take Zocor?

By seag47 — On Nov 20, 2012

@DFMeyers – Yes, the side effects of statins are a great reason to try lowering your cholesterol with food. I eat so many foods with natural statins in them that I will probably never need to take drugs for this.

One thing I always remember to do is to keep the peelings on my apples and the skins on my potatoes. The majority of the fiber lies in these.

Some people hate eating unpeeled apples, but I find it enhances the flavor. Also, just knowing that I'm getting more nutrition and statins that way makes it more enjoyable.

By anon296234 — On Oct 10, 2012

My cholesterol has actually gotten higher since I started a low-fat, high-fiber diet. I eat two to four servings of baked salmon every week, have cut red meat to a rare treat, have Cheerios or other high fiber cereal for breakfast, added beans and olive oil to my diet, and have cut most processed foods. I allow myself a few Fig Newtons as a treat. Otherwise, I eat fruit.

I measure everything, so it's not like I'm putting a 1/4 cup of olive oil on a salad. And, I'm exercising like a crazy person, 120 minutes a day, seven days a week.

My doctor just put me on 20 mg of Zocor, which I didn't want to do, but heart disease runs in my family, so she wants the numbers to go down.

I prefer the natural route, but it just doesn't seem to work for me.

By DFMeyers — On May 10, 2011

I was on statin drugs until I had side effects. I had headache, flushing of the skin, and severe muscle weakness. The muscle weakness was so bad that the doctor immediately took me off the medications.

So now I am trying to lower my cholesterol naturally by eating oats, apples, etc.

By pinkandred — On May 09, 2011

My doctor told me that old-fashioned oatmeal lowers cholesterol naturally. I eat a bowl of it everyday for breakfast. I go back to the doctor in a week to have my blood drawn. I am curious to see how much my cholesterol has went down.

He also said other foods naturally lower it, especially foods that contain high fiber. I am definitely getting more fiber into my diet, along with the oatmeal. I am really trying to avoid taking drugs for high cholesterol. I much prefer the natural route.

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