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Question: To lower my cholesterol, I am taking a phytosterol supplement. Will taking other supplements, like red yeast rice or fish oil, help lower my cholesterol even further?
Answer: Adding plant sterols ("phytosterols") or stanols to therapy with prescription statin drugs can often lower LDL "bad" cholesterol levels more than statin drugs alone. Adding red yeast rice (which naturally contains statins) has also been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol more than taking sterols alone, particularly if you are only using a modest amount of sterols. There is also some evidence that taking curcuminmay increase the cholesterol-lowering effects of phytosterols. (Red yeast rice is the most powerful cholesterol-reducing supplement - although choosing the right brand is critical, as ConsumerLab.com's tests have shown that some brands have much greater chemical strength than others.)
Fish oil, in large doses, can lower elevated levels of triglycerides, although it is not known to lower LDL cholesterol. However, a study in which various doses of fish oil were added to phytosterol treatment found that higher amounts of fish oil resulted in slightly greater reductions in LDL than the phytosterol alone - although this added benefit was not found with a lower dose of fish oil. HDL "good" cholesterol also increased by a small but statistically significant amount with high-dose fish oil.