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Reducing triglycerides naturally is a hot health topic today. Due to the side effects of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, many people are curious about how to reduce triglycerides naturally and safely. Fortunately, new research shows a compound in hot peppers has the potential to protect against the number one cause of death in the developed world – heart disease.
What are triglycerides?
Triglycerides are a type of lipid (fat) found in your blood. Although they are often discussed in relation to cholesterol, triglycerides are not cholesterol. Rather, triglycerides are a form of fat storage. Your body needs some triglycerides for good health, but high triglycerides can raise the risk of heart disease and stroke. Your blood triglyceride level should be less than 150 milligrams per deciliter to be considered normal.
Statins’ side effects
The two most common medications prescribed for high triglycerides are fibrates (Lofibra®, TriCor® and Lopic®) and statins (Crestor®, Lipitor®, Mevacor®, Pavachol®, Vytorin®, Zocor®, etc.) Since many people who have high triglycerides also have high cholesterol levels, statins are often the drug of choice. According to the American Heart Association, statins are “the largest class of medications used to treat lipid disorders”, but they have “only a moderate effect on lowering triglycerides”.
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Despite their “moderate” effect on reducing triglyceride levels, statins also come with a slew of side effects. You see, statins have been on the market since the 1980s and they are among the most prescribed drugs in the U.S. Since people have been taking statins for a prolonged period – significantly longer than the time period required for testing drugs – the statins’ side effects are becoming more severe and affecting more people than ever before. The initial side effects reported in statin users included muscle pain and weakness, liver damage, and digestive problems such as nausea, gas, diarrhea and constipation. Today, more deleterious side effects have been discovered with chronic statin use including amnesia/memory loss, depression, diabetes, heart failure and even cancer.[1,2]
For example, take a look at some the potential side effects from one common statin drug, Pravastatin (Pavachol®). This drug is prescribed to reduce both cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Pravastatin side effects:
Muscle damage (rhabdomyolisis and myopathy), kidney damage, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, nausea/vomiting, heartburn, pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), anorexia, liver diseases (hepatitis, cirrhosis, fulminant hepatic necrosis and cholestatic jaundice), increase risk of cataracts, blood disorders (thrombocytopenia, hemolytic anemia, leucopenia, etc.), headache, drowsiness, fatigue, tremors, memory loss, nerve damage (peripheral nerve palsy, peripheral neuropathy, paresthesias, etc.), gynecomastia (male breasts), thyroid abnormalities, impaired immune function (polymyalgia rheumatic, lupus-like syndrome, etc.), insomnia, anxiety, decreased libido, erectile dysfunction, impotence, depression, suicidal thoughts, paranois, delusions, nightmares and agitation.
And, this is only a partial list of this statins’ side effects! (Read more in 900 Studies Show Cholesterol-Lowering Statin Drugs Are Dangerous and New Simvastatin Side Effects Confirmed: Are These and Other Statins Diabetes Inducers?)
Reduce triglycerides naturally
A recent study showed that capsaicin – the compound that gives hot peppers their burning taste – has been proven to lower triglycerides without statins’ side effects! Jalapenos, habaneros, chilies and other pepper varieties all contain capsaicin. The research reported from the American Chemical Society found that capsaicin (capsaicinoids) lowered total serum cholesterol and triglycerides with HDL (good) cholesterol being unchanged. The capsaicin also decreased plaque build-up in the arteries.
Another study revealed that capsaicin reduced the rate at which LDL became oxidized. While it is known that LDL is the “bad” cholesterol, oxidized LDL is worse because it has the ability to adhere to inflamed vessels and can encourage the development of atherosclerosis (plaque in the arteries).
Most studies used supplements which contain 0.015% capsaicin or up to 30 grams of peppers, which is approximately ½ cup of peppers per day. Typically, the hotter the pepper, the higher amount of capsaicin it contains. If you cannot tolerate the spicy, burning taste of peppers, you can purchase capsaicin supplements or cayenne (or other pepper) supplements. When purchasing pepper supplements, check the label carefully to make sure it contains capsaicin. Follow the dosage instructions on the manufacturer’s label.
- An allergic reaction to capsaicin is possible. If you are just beginning to use capsaicin, start with smaller amounts.
- Do not take capsaicin if you have stomach ulcers, gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD) or irritable bowel syndrome as it can make these conditions inflame.
- Capsaicin can cause burning to the eyes and nose. After touching peppers or capsaicin creams, wash your hands thoroughly.
- Children should not use creams or supplements containing capsaicin unless directed by their doctor.
- Never stop or change medications without talking with your doctor. If you are currently taking a statin drug, talk with your doctor about incorporating capsaicin into your regimen before beginning the supplement.
For more ways to reduce triglycerides, read 3 Hot Nutrients That Lower Triglycerides Naturally. If you’ve successfully lowered your triglycerides using a natural approach, please tell us about it in the comments section below.
 American Chemical Society. (2012, March 29). “Improving Heart Health With Hot Pepper Compound.” Medical News Today.
 FEBS J. 2006 Oct;273(19):4528-37. Epub 2006 Sep 5.
This blog originally appeared in 2012 and is regularly updated.