A Cholesterol-Lowering Diet – Plus Statins

Should you change your cholesterol-lowering diet once your doctor prescribes statin medication?

Q: I did everything right — I saw a nutritionist, I started exercising, and I stopped smoking — but my LDL cholesterol is still high. My doctor put me on a statin medication. Is there anything I should do differently with my diet?

A: First, continue to comply with all of your doctor’s recommendations. Second, follow the heart-healthy eating suggestions listed in Cholesterol 101 and add these 6 Foods That Lower Cholesterol to your regular diet. If your cholesterol returns to normal levels, don’t stop: The change means the program is working and needs to be a permanent lifestyle change, not a temporary one-time fix.

Statins are valuable medications, but they are just one tool for keeping cholesterol under control. The nutrition and lifestyle suggestions I’m recommending can help turn your risk factors around, which will mean better health in the long run. However, some people have a genetic predisposition to make cholesterol and may still require medications in addition to lifestyle changes.

Finally, many health experts (including me) recommend that their clients who take one of the cholesterol-lowering statin medications also take a coenzyme Q10 supplement. CoQ10 is an antioxidant necessary for energy production in cells; without it, cells can’t function properly. Our bodies usually make sufficient CoQ10 to keep us healthy, but statin medications interfere with that (statins work by inhibiting the mechanism that allows the liver to make cholesterol, but they also slow the body’s production of CoQ10). To counteract these effects, I recommend taking 100 to 200 mg of CoQ10 once a day in a soft-gel formulation. Although most people can take CoQ10 safely and without side effects, it is always a good idea to talk with your doctor before taking any supplement.

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