Red yeast rice (angkak)
Originally used as food coloring in China, its health benefits have made it a useful ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine. Angkak is a by-product of fermenting rice with red yeast.
In the Philippines, it is used to preserve food. What’s interesting with angkak is that it has an active ingredient similar to lovastatin (a prescription cholesterol-lowering drug). This is more effective for lowering cholesterol levels compared to other natural remedies.
However, red yeast rice products have been banned in some places due to high amounts of a toxin called citrinin. Citrinin can damage the kidneys, liver, and other organs of the body.
Conventional treatment options
Fish oil capsules
Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids. Although the word “fat” can be seen, omega-3s are essential fats that our cells use.
Healthy fat is necessary for our skin, brain, and heart health. Omega-3 found in cooked fish or supplements helps lower triglycerides and bad cholesterol. Your doctor may recommend this if your triglycerides are over 200 mg/dL.
Another popular supplement is fenugreek. Fenugreek is an herb related to soy. Despite its small size, the seeds pack plenty of nutrients, fiber, and active ingredients. Fenugreek seeds and supplements help lower cholesterol, control blood sugar, and can even improve breast milk production.
Prescription medications (gamot sa cholesterol)
Once your doctor diagnoses you with high cholesterol, statins are often the first-line drug along with a low-fat diet. Statins work by blocking the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase, which is responsible for synthesizing cholesterol in our bodies.
Statins are very effective for lowering cholesterol levels. However, some side effects may include muscle soreness, weakness, and possibly increase blood sugar and damage the liver.
There are several statins available, including:
Fibrates work to remove excess triglycerides and LDL, which is “bad cholesterol”. It can potentially improve HDL or good cholesterol, as well. These are often used for very high triglyceride levels, with or without statins. Examples of fibrates include fenofibrate and gemfibrozil.