We know that too much LDL (bad cholesterol) circulating in the blood can build up in the arteries, slowly narrowing them or forming clots which can lead to heart attacks or strokes. Medicine can ease the situation and so can diet and exercise.
Now there's something else to help and it has been around, literally for forever. Some doctors are recommending it to patients as a safe and natural alternative to lowering cholesterol, especially for people whose cholesterol levels are higher than ideal, but not high enough yet for medication.
They are called Phyto (or plant sterols) and are naturally found in fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. You can also add it to foods in the form of a spread or take it as a supplement.
Dr. Daniel Rader, a cardiologist, says, "Plant sterols are one of the rare things in the alternative medicine world that actually have been studied and have been proven to work, and are actually endorsed by people like me, card carrying regular doctors who actually think that this really makes sense to do." Dr. Rader adds that, "There's no question that Phyto-sterols or plant sterols are one of the best proven alternative methods of lowering cholesterol short of drug therapy."
Dr. Rader is a specialist in preventive cardiac medicine. He's a strong believer in plant sterols for people with high cholesterol who don't yet show signs of heart disease. He says they have almost no side effects and are safe for children and teens. Research finds that they can reduce bad cholesterol by 10 to 15 percent and you can use them in combination with cholesterol lowering prescription drugs.