Heart Smart

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Supplements for Cholesterol: What Works?

Plenty of dietary supplements on the market claim to lower your cholesterol. These claims aren't always backed up by research, however. Though not always perfect, scientific studies are the best way to determine if an alternative remedy really works. We break down what the research does—and doesn’t—say about the benefits of the most popular supplements for lowering cholesterol.

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What it is: A member of the onion family that is available as an oil, extract, or pill.

The evidence: In 2000, the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reported that garlic caused a small but measurable drop in both LDL and total cholesterol, but only in the short term (three months). Subsequent research hasn’t been as encouraging. A 2007 study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that taking raw garlic or garlic supplements over a six-month period did not cause a measurable effect on total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, or triglyceride levels.

The bottom line: Though garlic may help lower LDL temporarily, its ability to meaningfully affect cholesterol levels is questionable.

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