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If you want to lower LDL naturally, the answer may lie in your spice rack. Turmeric is the Indian spice that gives curry its golden color. While it may not be the first thing that comes to mind for cholesterol health—recent research indicates it is one of the best natural ways to lower cholesterol.
Using turmeric for high cholesterol is beneficial because it contains a compound called curcumin. Curcumin has been proven to lower LDL cholesterol and prevent its oxidation, suppressing plaque build-up in arteries.
But that’s far from all it does. The latest studies reveal a broad range of therapeutic effects this spice has on LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol), cardiovascular health, and much more.
But specifically, turmeric appears to have the ability to prevent cholesterol production in the liver, block cholesterol absorption in the gut, and reduce LDL cholesterol oxidation in the lining of the arteries.
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Research Proves Major Turmeric Benefits
Studies in the early 1990s began to confirm a connection between turmeric and cholesterol and some of the ways turmeric exerts its healing effects on the cardiovascular system, and specifically, on lowering LDL cholesterol. These small, early studies showed that curcumin in turmeric lowers LDL cholesterol in humans.
In research published in the Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, for example, ten healthy volunteers consumed 500 mg of curcumin per day for seven days. Not only did their blood levels of oxidized LDL cholesterol drop by 33 percent, but their total cholesterol dropped 11.63 percent, and their HDL (“good” cholesterol) increased by 29 percent.
Some, but not all, recent studies have confirmed the LDL cholesterol-lowering effects of curcumin.[2-5] In one recent study, a curcumin supplement lowered triglycerides but had no effect on other lipids (such as LDL cholesterol). Thirty participants with obesity were treated with 1 gram a day of curcumin or placebo in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. After only 30 days, triglycerides were significantly reduced following curcumin supplementation.
In this study, turmeric benefits were revealed as curcumin did affect levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, or HDL cholesterol, but other studies have found both LDL cholesterol- and triglyceride-lowering effects of curcumin supplementation.[3,4]
How to Lower LDL Levels Naturally with Curcumin
By studying the turmeric benefits and curcumin’s effects in animals, researchers have been better able to understand curcumin and how to lower LDL cholesterol. Curcumin is able to control LDL cholesterol and its dangerous effects on arteries through a number of mechanisms. It prevents the liver from producing cholesterol, increases the amount of LDL cholesterol that the liver clears from the body, and prevents the intestines from absorbing it.
Studies have also found that curcumin lowers inflammation and reduces oxidative damage. Since these two processes, damage blood vessels and cause plaque build-up that can lead to heart attack or stroke, preventing them helps to reduce the progression of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries due to cholesterol and plaque build-up).
This is exactly what was demonstrated recently in a study published in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research. In mice with high LDL cholesterol, curcumin was not only shown to lower LDL cholesterol, it also lowered triglycerides and C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of systemic inflammation. Furthermore, curcumin prevented the beginning stages of atherosclerosis in mice aortas and inhibited processes involved in cholesterol synthesis in their livers. Obviously turmeric benefits in cardiovascular health are wide ranging.
Add Some Spice to Your Diet
Anyone with high LDL cholesterol, coronary artery disease, or other cardiovascular disease is a prime candidate for supplementing with curcumin to lower LDL cholesterol naturally and prevent its dangerous effects on the cardiovascular system. Adding more turmeric to your diet is also a great way to experience the amazingly diverse benefits of this colorful spice.
Add extra turmeric to curries. Flavor lentil soups with turmeric and cumin. Spice up sautéed onions and/or cauliflower. Add to salad dressings, or make a creamy vegetable dip by mixing with plain yogurt, a little omega-3-rich mayonnaise, salt and pepper. See How to Get the Most Turmeric Supplement Benefits for additional tips.
Turmeric: Also Good for Arthritis, Memory, Fatigue, and More
Turmeric benefits don’t stop with the cardiovascular system. If you suffer from any kind of inflammatory based condition – arthritis, cognitive and memory issues, chronic fatigue, or leaky gut inflammation, consider that turmeric benefits the body’s inflammation process as effectively as any natural healing agent available.
It’s also important to remember that to get the full turmeric benefits when taking a turmeric supplement, your supplement needs to be administered in some specific ways to increase bioavailability since turmeric is not well absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract.
The turmeric benefits are undeniable, and this supplement or added spice in your diet should be considered a main stay strategy for anyone looking to improve their health in a natural, drug-free way.
Do you have any experience on how to reduce triglycerides or how to lower ldl cholesterol? Share in the comments section below.
 Soni KB, Kuttan R. Effect of oral curcumin administration on serum peroxides and cholesterol levels in human volunteers. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 1992 Oct;36(4):273-5. 1992.
 Mohammadi A, Sahebkar A, et al. Effects of Supplementation with Curcuminoids on Dyslipidemia in Obese Patients: A Randomized Crossover Trial. Phytother Res. 2012 May 21. doi: 10.1002/ptr.4715.
 Pungcharoenkul K, Thongnopnua P. Effect of different curcuminoid supplement dosages on total in vivo antioxidant capacity and cholesterol levels of healthy human subjects. Phytother Res. 2011 Nov;25(11):1721-6.
 Baum L, Cheung SK, et al. Curcumin effects on blood lipid profile in a 6-month human study. Pharmacol Res. 2007 Dec;56(6):509-14.
 Feng D, Ohlsson L, Duan RD. Curcumin inhibits cholesterol uptake in Caco-2 cells by down-regulation of NPC1L1 expression. Lipids Health Dis. 2010 Apr 19;9:40.
 Shin SK, Ha TY, McGregor RA, Choi MS. Long-term curcumin administration protects against atherosclerosis via hepatic regulation of lipoprotein cholesterol metabolism. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2011 Dec;55(12):1829-40.
Originally posted in 2012, this blog has been updated.