Some plant products can help lower cholesterol. But don't use them to replace your doctor's treatment. Research has not proven that they lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Whether or not you use such products, be sure to continue your diet, exercise, and prescription medicines.
Psyllium is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The main side effect is increased bowel movements. Products containing psyllium aren't recommended to replace foods as a source of fiber.
Sterol or stanol esters
Sterol and stanol esters are used in cholesterol-lowering margarine spreads.
Sterol esters might limit how much cholesterol the small intestine can absorb. These margarines are used along with a heart-healthy diet.
Red yeast rice
Talk to your doctor before you try red yeast rice. Serious side effects include rhabdomyolysis and hepatitis. Red yeast rice is not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so you cannot be sure of the amount of red yeast in a supplement. This means you cannot be sure of its dose and safety.
Do not take red yeast supplements if you are taking statins. Combining them can cause dangerous side effects.
Other dietary supplements and vitamins
There are some dietary supplements that you may hear about to lower your risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. It is not clear if some vitamins, minerals, and multivitamins can lower risk. But it is clear that some supplements, such as vitamin E and beta-carotene, do not lower risk.1
Talk with your doctor about the best ways to lower your risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Tell your doctor if you plan to use dietary supplements or vitamins. Your doctor can make sure they are safe for you.