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You ordered a blood lipid panel and found your LDL was 149 mg/dL. You’ve read that’s too high. You know that the doctor on your health insurance plan will recommend a statin drug, the conventional gold standard to lower LDL. But you want to try a natural approach. How effective are dietary changes in lowering LDL level?

Lipid Tests

LDL increases with age. However, LDL can decrease with age in some older men and women. Lower levels of LDL are associated with reduced risk of mortality.
You set goals. The first marker is to get your LDL level below 99; then less than 80 – if possible, achieve optimal levels below 70 mg/dL.

One sure way to achieve lower LDL levels is by eating a vegan diet for five months. Longer than that may cause deficiencies of vitamin D3 and B12, iron, calcium, and ferritin, and low protein levels. You’ll lose weight, but you don’t want to lose muscle mass.

Many vegans consume too much coconut oil, a plant-based saturated fat that drives LDL levels high. So, don’t over-eat coconut oil or use too much when cooking. Adding supplements, like plant sterols and red yeast rice works synergistically with a healthy low-fat diet.

Vegan Diet Without Coconut Oil Plus Supplements:

  • Take Plant Sterols Beta-Sitosterol: Plant sterols are plant-based compounds similar to cholesterol, so they help limit cholesterol absorption. To get results, you’ll need 1,000 mg twice daily. If you use a concentrated form, take 150 mg with meals.
  • Include Soluble Fiber: Many healthy plant foods like oats, barley, eggplant, and okra contain soluble fiber that helps manage LDL levels. Adding a few grams of soluble fiber from psyllium husks gives added LDL-lowering benefit.
  • Use Soy Products: If you’re not allergic to soy beans, adding small amounts of soy protein from tofu, miso, and tempeh provides a slight advantage in banishing LDL. But avoid processed soy-based meat and cheese substitutes. Don’t use soy if you have hypothyroidism because it inhibits thyroid gland function.
  • Eat Some Nuts: Raw organic nuts are rich in mono and polyunsaturated fats. Walnuts are particularly good at keeping blood vessels healthy. One handful daily is enough. Don’t eat too many because nuts are calorie dense. And, don’t eat any if you are allergic to nuts.
  • Take Artichoke Extract: A 2017 study found that artichoke extract provided a significant reduction of LDL and triglycerides. Take Artichoke Extract (Cynara scolymus) standardized to contain 18% caffeoylquinic acids, 320-500 mg twice daily.

Five Months Later

Check your LDL level in five months. You should find that your LDL is lower than when you started. If it hasn’t gone much lower even on a vegan diet, you may have genetic variations of APOE. Those with APOE2 have naturally low LDL cholesterol. Those carrying APOE4 tend to have high LDL and increased risk for coronary heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

To live healthy and longer, lower LDL and triglycerides and raise your HDL. Diet and supplements work.

Dr. J. E. Williams


Dr. Williams is a pioneer in integrative and functional medicine, the author of six books, and a practicing clinician with over 100,000 patient visits. His areas of interest include longevity and viral immunity. Formerly from San Diego, he now resides in Sarasota, Florida and practices at the Florida Integrative Medical Center. He teaches at NOVA Southeastern University and Emperor’s College of Oriental Medicine.

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