A cholesterol supplement provides a simple, effective way to halt the buildup of plaque inside the arteries, thereby reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
The best cholesterol supplements use natural ingredients that have withstood the harsh light of clinical review and produce few, if any, side effects.
With so many cholesterol supplements vying for your attention, it can be difficult to decide which is worth the investment of your time and money.
Our product review experts did the heavy lifting for you and determined that the following represent the best cholesterol supplements on the market in 2021.
1. Essential Elements CholestAid
Essential Elements CholestAid uses a variety of proven ingredients carefully formulated to reduce LDL cholesterol and restore the balance between LDL and beneficial HDL cholesterol. It works quickly and is virtually side effect free.
What we like: CholestAid covers all the bases with niacinamide to promote blood flow, garlic powder to arrest the buildup of bad cholesterol in the blood, and red yeast rice to restore the LDL/HDL balance.
Flaws: It is rare, but niacinamide has been known to upset sensitive stomachs.
2. BRI Odorless Garlic
Garlic provides a multitude of health benefits. None is more important than its ability to reduce cholesterol levels. BRI Odorless Garlic does not mince around by piling on unnecessary ingredients. This is a simple and effective garlic supplement that will help you get your cholesterol levels under control.
What we like: Each BRI softgel contains a full 1000 mg of garlic along with a smattering of parsley to offset the odor. That’s it. No superfluous vitamins and minerals. No artificial flavors or preservatives.
Flaws: Contains soybean oil. So not for those with a soy allergy.
3. Kyolic Garlic Formula 104
Kyolic Garlic Formula 104 is made from 100% organically grown garlic. That garlic is then aged a full 20 months to enhance its antioxidant and antiglycation properties. The result is a supplement with more potent cholesterol-lowering abilities than raw garlic.
What we like: Kyolic aged garlic provides a host of benefits beyond simply lowering cholesterol levels. It enhances immune system function, combats oxidative stress, facilitates digestion, and reduces pain and stiffness associated with inflammatory conditions.
Flaws: Contains the somewhat controversial ingredient lecithin.
4. Nature Made CholestOff
Nature Made has an unassailable track record of producing high-quality, high-potency dietary supplements. Their CholestOff is another example of the many things they do right. CholestOff leverages the proven ability of the B5 derivative pantethine to lower cholesterol.
What we like: Nature Made CholestOff leverages the vitamin B5 derivative pantethine. Pantethine has proven itself in various NIH-published health studies to reduce cholesterol and lower risk markers for cardiovascular disease.
Flaws: Would be nice if it were available in smaller quantities.
5. Great Lakes Nutrition Cholesterol Formula
Great Lakes is not a household name in the supplement business. But there is no denying the efficacy of their outstanding Nutrition Cholesterol Formula. The central ingredient is niacin, which has a demonstrated ability to raise good cholesterol levels to restore LDL/HDL balance.
What we like: Besides niacin, Nutrition Cholesterol Formula includes cayenne, which also has modest cholesterol-lowering capabilities, garlic powder, and gugulipid which is useful in reducing fat levels in the blood.
Flaws: Hides ingredient quantities behind a ‘proprietary blend’ label.
6. NOW Supplements Cholesterol Pro
Now Supplements Cholesterol Pro leverages the cholesterol-lowering capabilities of bergamot root and pine phytosterols to quickly and effectively restore balance to your blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.
What we like: Phytosterols are related to cholesterol but, like beneficial HDL cholesterol, have the ability to lower bad cholesterol levels and reduce plaque buildup inside the arteries. Bergamot itself raises good cholesterol levels and removes blood lipids.
Flaws: Phytosterols may cause constipation.
7. New Health HeartSavior
New Health HeartSavior pulls out all the stops to remove the threat of high cholesterol. There is Q10, which can help loosen plaque along arterial walls, red yeast rice with its proven LDL lowering abilities and phytosterols, which also reduce LDL cholesterol.
What we like: There is no denying the HeartSavior formula is well-designed and effective. It approaches the problem of high cholesterol from both the preventive side and the curative side. The 90-day money-back guarantee is nice to have too.
Flaws: Selenium is the one questionable ingredient in an otherwise outstanding formula.
8. 1MD CholestMD
The key ingredient in 1MD CholestMD is red yeast rice with its generous helping of monacolin K. Monacolin K is chemically identical to the active ingredient in many prescription cholesterol-lowering drugs and has demonstrated its efficacy in numerous studies.
What we like: This is a potent anti-cholesterol supplement that packs a powerful 1-2 punch with 10mg of monacolin K and 400 mg of niacin to boost good HDL cholesterol levels and lower triglycerides.
Flaws: Monacolin K should not be taken by pregnant women or women who are breastfeeding.
9. Qunol Ultra CoQ10
Qunol Ultra CoQ10 goes all-in on coenzyme Q10 and its powerful antioxidant properties. Q10 has demonstrated an ability in animal trials to loosen plaque buildup in arteries and lower the amount of LDL (bad) cholesterol in the blood.
What we like: Triglycerides are often the forgotten element in the heart health equation. Fortunately, CoQ10 is able to lower both LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels, thereby ridding your bloodstream of two potential problems at once.
Flaws: Some who use Q10 complain of upset stomach.
10. SR Omega-3 Wild Alaskan Fish Oil
Fish oil sometimes gets left out of the cholesterol-lowering conversation, but it shouldn’t be. There is ample clinical evidence of the ability of omega-3 fatty acids to enhance cardiovascular health and facilitate the transport of bad LDL cholesterol to the liver for expulsion.
What we like: HDL cholesterol is considered ‘good’ because it reduces the amount of LDL cholesterol in the blood. It turns out omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil do the same thing. Which makes this a viable cholesterol supplement with a range of other health benefits as well.
Flaws: Some won’t like the occasionally fishy aftertaste.
Who Needs a Cholesterol Supplement?
Cholesterol is a silent killer that builds up slowly over the years inside veins and arteries and never displays symptoms of its presence. People are often unaware of the state of their arteries until they go to the doctor complaining of chest pain and the doctor performs a cholesterol test.
Don’t wait until a heart attack is looming on the horizon to do something about your cholesterol levels. A simple cholesterol supplement and a few tweaks to your diet can do wonders for your long-term health prospects.
Also, do not assume that because you are a woman, or because there is no history of heart disease in your family, that you are immune to the threat posed by cholesterol. Atherosclerosis, (the buildup of cholesterol and fat along the inner walls of the arteries) is an equal opportunity killer.
How We Ranked
Cholesterol supplements are non-prescription dietary supplements that leverage the subtle medicinal qualities of certain natural ingredients. They are not compounds engineered in a laboratory for a specific purpose, or powerful but potentially dangerous controlled substances.
As such, the number one criteria to apply when judging a cholesterol supplement is whether its natural ingredients have a proven track record supported by clinical data. With that dictum as our starting point, any cholesterol supplement using ingredients lacking a robust scientific foundation did not rank for our list.
Next, we looked beyond the main active ingredients to see if there were any supporting ingredients of questionable value, or which were known to produce odious side effects. Any such ingredients needed to be justified from a clinical perspective (meaning they somehow enhance the effectiveness of the main ingredient) or the supplement did not make our list.
We also considered the reputation of the manufacturer, and whether their production facility was GMP-certified by the FDA. Finally, we sifted through hundreds of user reviews to see if we could glean a consensus regarding the effectiveness of a particular supplement.
Cholesterol supplements can help prevent heart attacks. When blood flow to the heart becomes restricted due to a buildup of fat and cholesterol inside the coronary artery, the affected part of the heart muscle dies. Doctors refer to this as ‘myocardial infarction’. The rest of us refer to it as a heart attack (1). Starting on cholesterol supplements before any arterial blockage becomes severe can reduce the odds of a person suffering a heart attack.
Cholesterol supplements are good for your brain. High cholesterol can produce blockages in the arteries that feed your brain. This is a very dangerous condition that can greatly increase the risk of stroke (2). Cholesterol supplements – in concert with other efforts like a healthy diet – can, over time, help clear those arteries and decrease the chances a person will suffer a stroke.
Cholesterol supplements can help save your memory. Many stroke victims suffer from a loss of cognitive function, with as many as one third developing memory problems (3). Some will experience annoying lapses in the short term recall. While others will suffer stroke-induced dementia. Cholesterol supplements that help prevent a stroke can also help prevent this type of memory loss.
Cholesterol supplements do not leave you waiting for results. The best cholesterol supplements get right to work lowering the levels of LDL cholesterol in your blood. You will not have to wait for months or years to enjoy the benefits. Although, to be sure, some of those benefits will be subtle, and you may not feel them at all. They will appear next time you visit your doctor and have your cholesterol levels checked.
Cholesterol supplements can prevent angina. When the heart does not receive enough oxygen from the blood the pain that results is called ‘angina’ (4). Angina often results from arteries that are clogged by fat and cholesterol, a condition known as atherosclerosis (5). Cholesterol supplements can help prevent atherosclerosis, thereby saving you from the scourge of angina.
Cholesterol supplements can help prevent gallstones. Gallstones typically occur when bile is laden with too much cholesterol. Gallstones (6) can cause severe abdominal pain, vomiting, fever, jaundice, and, if left untreated, even death. A high fat, high cholesterol diet can make one susceptible to gallstones. Cholesterol supplements and healthy modifications to diet can help reduce the risk.
Cholesterol supplements can help your workouts. A lifetime of exercise can likely prevent atherosclerosis (7). But if you start exercising late in life, your arteries may already be blocked and exercise alone may not clear them out. Cholesterol supplements and a healthy diet can help. They will put more blood in your veins, which will mean more oxygen to your muscles during workouts. The enhanced exercise will further reduce atherosclerosis, and a healthy upward spiral will be set in motion.
Cholesterol supplements may help reduce your risk of cancer. When people think cholesterol, they typically think heart attack or stroke. And for good reason. However, research indicates that cholesterol metabolism may play a role in the development of colon, prostate, and testicular cancer (8). That is a disturbing thought. But the good news is that cholesterol supplements can help you bring things under control and reduce the risk.
Cholesterol supplements are important for both men and women. While men tend to have a slightly higher risk of developing high levels of cholesterol in their blood than women, the difference is not extreme. Women are very much at risk of developing high cholesterol as well and need to take steps to avoid it if possible. One of the simplest, most effective steps they can take is to use cholesterol supplements.
Cholesterol supplements produce even better results if you exercise too. The danger of cholesterol is in its tendency to adhere to the inside of veins and arteries and impede blood flow. This effect is magnified if a person leads a largely sedentary lifestyle. While cholesterol supplements can help most people lower their cholesterol levels, they become even more effective if you couple them with vigorous exercise. This will help clear cholesterol plaque out of the veins (9).
Cholesterol supplements can help you fight off a cold. At least, the ones that contain garlic may have that ability. Garlic has a noticeable effect on immune system function, and studies indicate garlic supplements can actually reduce how often people catch a cold (10). If you do get a cold, garlic can often reduce the severity of symptoms and the length of time you feel under the weather.
Cholesterol supplements can ensure proper blood flow to the legs. Too much cholesterol in the blood can cause the veins of the legs to become restricted. The end result of this restricted blood flow is weakness, numbness, and pain in the lower legs and feet. This can severely restrict mobility, which, in turn, will have other adverse effects on overall health. Cholesterol supplements can help ensure this does not happen.
Cholesterol supplements are safe. Cholesterol supplements do not rely on controlled or addictive substances. The ingredients they do include, such as garlic, red yeast rice, and niacinamide are not known to produce anything in the way of serious side effects. So cholesterol supplements can be taken safely by the vast majority of people. Just remember to consult your doctor first if you are on any type of prescription medication.
Cholesterol supplements can reduce blood pressure. Lower blood pressure is yet another potential benefit of garlic supplementation (11). And since so many cholesterol supplements use garlic as their central ingredient, it is fair to say that the same garlic that is good for your cholesterol is also good for your blood pressure. If your blood pressure is normal, garlic can help keep it that way. If it’s high, garlic can help lower it.
Cholesterol supplements may help you live longer. Certainly, if you reduce your risk of a heart attack and reduce your risk of stroke, you increase the likelihood of living a longer, healthier life. Of course, there are no guarantees. But by using cholesterol supplements to help reduce these risks, you could potentially be adding years to your life.
Cholesterol supplements use natural ingredients. You will not find a laundry list of laboratory-created compounds in cholesterol supplements. They leverage the power of natural ingredients like garlic, red yeast rice, and more. These ingredients are well-tolerated by the body, produce few side effects, pose no threat of addiction, and typically do not interact badly with prescription medications.
Cholesterol supplements can be good for your skin. Most of the damage done to a person’s skin over time can be traced to the activity of free radicals (12). These unbalanced compounds produce oxidative stress that destroys healthy cells. The only known enemy of the free radical is the antioxidant (13). And it just so happens that garlic is rich in antioxidants.
Cholesterol supplements often contain red yeast rice. Why is that a big deal? Because red yeast rice contains low levels of monacolin K, a proven cholesterol fighter (14) that is chemically identical to the active ingredient used in the prescription cholesterol-reducing drug lovastatin. The amount of monacolin K present in OTC cholesterol supplements is pretty modest, however. If it was not, the FDA would require a prescription, which leads to our next point.
Cholesterol supplements do not require a prescription. Most things that produce a significant physiological benefit require a prescription. Cholesterol supplements like those on our list, do not. They are widely available in health food stores, supermarkets, drug stores, and online. Which means there is no excuse for not using them to help reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke, and other health problems.
Cholesterol supplements are affordable. Cholesterol supplements typically cost just pennies per day. Compare that to the expense of recovering from a heart attack or stroke, or having to be under a doctor’s care for years because of cholesterol-induced problems. That assumes, of course, that a person recovers from a heart attack or stroke. 10% do not (15). And many survivors experience serious long-term disability.
Q: What is a cholesterol supplement?
A: A cholesterol supplement is a dietary supplement, most often taking the form of a pill or tablet, that helps restore balance to cholesterol levels in the blood. By doing so, it reduces the risk of a person suffering a heart attack or stroke due to atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is the buildup of fat and cholesterol inside the veins and arteries. Cholesterol supplements do not require a prescription and are considered safe and effective.
Q: What are the different kinds of cholesterol?
A: There are two types of cholesterol (16). One is considered ‘good’, the other ‘bad’. High-density lipoprotein or HDL cholesterol is considered ‘good’ because it rounds up bad cholesterol and helps flush it from the body. Low-density lipoprotein or LDL cholesterol is considered ‘bad’ cholesterol because of its tendency to adhere to the inside of the veins and arteries where it restricts blood flow.
Q: What are the symptoms of high cholesterol?
A: One of the many scary things about high cholesterol is that there are few real symptoms to speak of (17). A person may feel fine one day and be struck down by a cholesterol-related heart attack the next. If you are looking for symptoms of high cholesterol, then you may need to look for symptoms of other conditions caused by it. Angina, high blood pressure, and ED may all signal the presence of high cholesterol.
Q: How do I know if I need a cholesterol supplement?
A: As we said, high cholesterol does not provide any obvious symptoms you can use to diagnose the condition. This is why it is so important to have your cholesterol levels checked every few years, symptoms or not. That is especially true if your diet is less than ideal and you do not engage in regular exercise.
Q: Do cholesterol supplements contain statins?
A: Over the counter cholesterol supplements do not contain statins. Statins are prescription medications used to lower cholesterol levels in people with a pressing need to do so (18). Statins are considered a more heavy-duty type of cholesterol treatment. They are not usually prescribed if the doctor believes dietary changes and OTC cholesterol supplements can do the job instead.
Q: What are some behaviors that can cause high cholesterol?
A: The most common cause of high cholesterol is eating a diet that is high in trans fats (19) and saturated fats. A lack of physical activity can also increase the chances of developing high cholesterol. Physical activity causes more blood to be pumped through the veins. A lack of physical activity causes the veins to atrophy in a way that allows cholesterol and fat to accumulate.
Q: Do I have to stop eating eggs for breakfast?
A: People love their bacon and eggs, or their Sunday omelettes. But many are concerned that consuming eggs may lead to elevated cholesterol and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. A couple of decades ago, research seemed to confirm that. However, subsequent studies have pretty much cleared the humble egg of raising cholesterol levels. Most doctors now consider them to be part of a healthy diet (20).
Q: How fast do cholesterol supplements work?
A: Some get to work quickly, others take more time. Garlic, for instance, is one that often reduces cholesterol levels in just a matter of weeks. However, the most recent studies of garlic’s effect on cholesterol levels suggest the beneficial effect wears off a couple of months after a person stops taking it (21). Meaning it should be a regular part of a cholesterol-lowering diet, and not just a temporary fix.
Q: What health conditions put you at risk for high cholesterol?
A: Your diet is not the only thing that puts you at risk of developing high cholesterol. People with type 2 diabetes (22) are also at risk, regardless of what they eat. That’s because type 2 diabetes is known to lower levels of ‘good’ (HDL) cholesterol. Once that imbalance between good and bad cholesterol is established, the bad cholesterol is able to wreak havoc inside the arteries.
Q: What are triglycerides?
A: Triglycerides are a type of fat that circulates in the blood, similar to cholesterol but with a different metabolic mandate (23). Cholesterol is directly involved in the production of hormones, vitamin D, and cell membranes. Triglycerides, on the other hand, are fat that is stored by the body for possible later use. What they have in common is that they both often wind up mucking up the bloodstream.
Q: Do cholesterol supplements also reduce triglyceride levels?
A: Some will and some will not. While cholesterol and triglycerides are both lipids, they have different functions and different characteristics. Therefore, not all the ingredients in cholesterol supplements will work on both. One ingredient that has demonstrated the ability to reduce both cholesterol and triglyceride levels is garlic (24). So if you are interested in lowering both, make sure your cholesterol supplement includes garlic.
Q: Are men more susceptible to high cholesterol than women?
A: The risk of developing high levels of LDL cholesterol increase with age for both men and women. This likely has something to do with people becoming more sedentary as they get older. Less physical activity means less blood pumping through the veins and a greater chance of cholesterol and fat accumulating in those veins. That said, men have a slightly higher risk of developing high LDL cholesterol women than men.
Q: I exercise, why is my cholesterol still high?
A: A poor diet and lack of exercise are not the only causes of high cholesterol. For many Americans, the problem is a genetic one. Just as a person can inherit an elevated risk of heart disease, they can also inherit high cholesterol. If one of your parents or grandparents suffered a heart attack at an early age, it may indicate you have a genetic predisposition to high cholesterol. In which case, the sooner you start taking cholesterol supplements, the better.
Q: Can a cholesterol supplement clear plaque from arteries?
A: In a word, no. There is no supplement (or prescription drug for that matter) that will flush 100% of accumulated plaque out of clogged arteries (25). What cholesterol supplements can do is reduce or even eliminate further buildup of plaques. Once plaque production has been brought under control, a person may need to undergo a surgical procedure to either suck out some of the plaque or have a stent (26) installed that will open up the artery and allow for greater blood flow.
Q: Won’t my doctor tell me if I need to test my cholesterol levels?
A: A cholesterol level check is not something that happens automatically when you visit the doctor. But if you are over 20 you should be having your cholesterol checked every few years. Keep in mind that high cholesterol does not have any symptoms. So do not expect your doctor to look at your face and say, “Whoa! You need to have your cholesterol checked!”. You will likely have to take the initiative and ask.
Q: How do I have my cholesterol checked?
A: A cholesterol test is a fairly straightforward blood test (27). But you cannot just walk in off the street after hitting the pizza parlor and ask for a cholesterol test. You will need to fast for 10 or 12 hours before blood is drawn. For this reason, most people have it done early in the day and simply skip breakfast. The test itself only takes a few minutes and does not require a sedative or a recovery period.
Q: Are cholesterol tests expensive?
A: A cholesterol test in a major American city will typically cost less than $50 (though there are some exceptions). That is not pocket change for many people. But it is still a good value considering that it can alert you to this potentially dangerous condition so you can act to protect yourself. Also, many health insurance policies will cover the cost of a cholesterol test, so you may wind up paying nothing.
Q: What will the results of a cholesterol test indicate?
A: The cholesterol test will typically look for four things: the total serum cholesterol level in your blood, your HDL cholesterol level, your LDL cholesterol level, and your triglyceride level. Remember, HDL is considered ‘good’ cholesterol because it clears excess LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol out of your system before it can do any harm.
Q: Should I have my kids tested for high cholesterol?
A: If someone in your family suffered a heart attack at a young age, or if you or other family members have a history of high cholesterol, it may be a good idea to have your children checked too. It is not as unusual as you may think. And in cases where high cholesterol runs in a family, it is a perfectly valid thing to do. If your child has high cholesterol levels, your doctor will probably prescribe changes to their diet and lifestyle first (28), rather than defaulting to a cholesterol supplement.
Cholesterol supplements provide a convenient, affordable way to fend off heart disease and stroke by halting the buildup of plaque inside veins and arteries.
Cholesterol supplements employ natural ingredients with a proven track record and few side effects that restore the balance between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ cholesterol.
If you are over 30 make sure to have your cholesterol levels checked every few years, eat healthy foods low in saturated fats, exercise and take one of the cholesterol supplements on the above list.
For cpoe.org’s #1 recommended cholesterol supplement, click here.