Forty years ago, your doctor probably wouldn’t have checked your cholesterol levels or talked to you about lifestyles that keep your heart healthy. Research linking cholesterol to cardiovascular disease was slim.
But in 1987, medical journalist Robert E. Kowalski published the pioneering book, “The 8-Week Cholesterol Cure,” which explains why improving your diet, weight management, exercising, and decreasing stress are pivotal to heart health. He also discusses supplements that helped him keep cholesterol levels in check.
Decades later, although Kowalski has passed on, his guidance still stands. As part of National Cholesterol Awareness Month, we’re sharing more about his story and the supplements he swore by in his heart-health program. If you’d like to read the whole book, or the abridged version, you can get one here.
Heart Attack at Age 35 Spurs the Book
Kowalski’s story is a thriller. He had a major heart attack at age 35, followed by a multiple-bypass surgery – the only treatment option back then! After another heart attack and surgery six years later, he wrote the book to save his own life. It sold millions of copies and is credited for getting oat bran and oily fish into American diets for heart health.
In our previous post, “I Have High Cholesterol! Now What?” a medical provider explains how dietary changes can significantly improve your cholesterol levels. It also provides resources for getting in shape and stress management.
Today, we’re sharing the supplements Kowalski recommends for optimal heart health. The book details his recommended doses, but we’re leaving those out. Please talk with your health care provider about which supplements, and doses, are best for you!
Supplements for Optimal Heart Health
Directly from the abridged edition of Kowalski’s revised book, “The New 8-Week Cholesterol Cure,” here are the supplements he recommends.
Antioxidants – “Years of research at the world’s most prestigious medical centers has shown unequivocally that the oxidized from of LDL cholesterol does the most damage. Stop that oxidation with the antioxidants vitamin E, vitamin C, beta-carotene, and selenium. As a bonus, those antioxidants also keep the linking of the arteries, the endothelium, healthy and flexible.”
Niacin – “Eighty percent of the cholesterol in your blood is produced by your liver; diet accounts for only 20 percent, at most. Niacin, also known as vitamin B3 and nicotinic acid, stops the body’s excess production. But it does much more: It raises the good HDL cholesterol, slashes triglycerides, and controls newly discovered independent risk factors, including Lp(a) and small, dense LDL.”
B vitamins – “To B or not to B is no longer the question. We know now that we can completely control buildup of the amino acid homocysteine with daily supplementation of three B vitamins: B6, B12, and folic acid. Some researchers believe that homocysteine elevations are as dangerous as high cholesterol levels.”
Minerals – “We hear a lot about restricting sodium to reduce or prevent hypertension. But sodium is just one of the minerals that influence blood pressure. Rather than simply cutting back on sodium, we should make an effort to increase our intake of the minerals that research has shown to lower blood pressure. Those include magnesium, calcium, and potassium. Most diets don’t provide (enough), so supplements will probably be needed. There are, however, plenty of dietary sources of potassium; and salt substitutes replace sodium with potassium.”
Phytosterols – “It almost sounds too good to be true, but we can actually block the cholesterol in foods from getting into the bloodstream. Literally hundreds of research studies document the ability of phytosterols (plant sterols) to block the absorption of cholesterol. And regular intake can result in about a 10 percent cholesterol reduction in your blood.”
Pantethine – “This derivative of pantothenic acid can dramatically raise HDL and lower triglycerides.”
Fish Oils – “All of us should eat fish, especially fatty fish, at least twice a week. The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish reduce formations of blood clots and lower triglycerides. But if you don’t like fish, supplement your diet with fish oil daily.”Since Kowalski’s book was published, hundreds more research studies have connected supplements, diet, and exercise to lowering cholesterol without drugs. Get an overview of the research here.