8 Proven Benefits of Turmeric For High Cholesterol [UPDATED]

Blood cholesterol in humans is a description of levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), high-density lipoprotein (HDL), and triglycerides in an individual’s blood.

The general standard levels of cholesterol lie between less than 200 mg/dL for healthy individuals and between 200 – 239 mg/dL is considered borderline. Values over 240mg/dL are considered unhealthy.

The main reason high cholesterol poses a threat to the human body is the close relation it has to heart health.

Cholesterol build up can have some harmful side effects which include obstruction of steady blood flow due to plaque accumulation i.e. atherosclerosis and chances of heart attacks occurring.

The main culprit behind cholesterol level increase is LDL- it is the cause of blockage in the arteries. It is crucial for HDL, ‘good cholesterol’ to counter the activity of LDL to ensure uninterrupted blood flow and prevent damage to the arteries.

Since high cholesterol does not show any symptoms on its own, it often goes unchecked till major damage to the heart or other organs take place. It is therefore essential for regular blood tests to be carried out to keep LDL in the blood in check.

There are certain contributors to high cholesterol such as age, sex, and gender which are out of our control. However, other modes of control such as maintaining a balanced diet, watching our weight and regular physical activity can be easily monitored.

If you already know about Turmeric, please jump to the relevant section using the Table of Contents below, else please read on.

What is turmeric?

Turmeric is a spice derived from an herb belonging to the ginger family. It is commonly used to provide flavour to numerous Indian dishes.

Along with providing a spicy taste to curries, it gives off a golden colour due to the polyphenol compound, curcumin present in it. The powdered root extract, essential oil, and curcuminoids of turmeric have provided numerous medical benefits historically and have been used extensively in Ayurveda and traditional Chinese health practices.

8 Proven Benefits of Turmeric In High Cholesterol/Hypercholestrolemia

Turmeric is believed to have excellent cholesterol lowering capacities. Increasing scientific evidence is indicative of its ability to act on blockages and damage in the arteries repair them. Some of the benefits of using turmeric to provide reduce LDL have been listed as follows:

1. Turmeric helps in acute coronary syndrome

The acute coronary syndrome refers to a condition of heart problems and chest pain due to obstructed blood flow to the heart due to cholesterol clogged arteries.

In 1996, PB Godkar et al studied the ability of turmeric to aid this hypercholesterolemia condition in an animal model. Through their experiment, they observed a 10% improvement in turmeric extract treated subjects when compared to their control group.

A similar study in an animal model was published in the journal of Atherosclerosis in 1999 where oral administration of curcumin at low concentrations aiding the management on LDL lipid peroxidation thus preventing its build up.

This was followed up by human studies addressing turmeric’s healing abilities for the same. Doctors in Jakarta administered curcumin to acute coronary syndrome patients and evaluated their lipid levels.

They found that the compound had positive effects even when provided to patients at low concentrations. By analyzing parameters such as body mass index, waist circumference, and blood pressure, it was observed that curcumin effectively lowered LDL and up regulated HDL activity in a dose dependent manner.

What does this mean?

The extracts and curcumin obtained from turmeric possess anti atherogenic properties i.e. they act against plaque build-up in the arteries. They monitor damage enabling turmeric useful in acute coronary syndrome therapy.

2. It is a natural anti-atherosclerotic agent

Atherosclerosis is the phenomenon of gradual hardening and narrowing of arteries due to increased lipid and LDL levels. This condition hinders blood flow and may lead to fatal heart attacks or strokes.

A paper published in Life Sciences in 2005 highlights the effectiveness of turmeric and ginger to eliminate plaque related to atherosclerosis.

Through the inclusion of these compounds in an individual’s diet along with regular monitoring of heart rate, blood pressure, and lipid profiles it was observed that turmeric and ginger administration enhanced protection of artery walls from damage and hardening.

This in turn eliminated LDL along with decelerating the progress of heart diseases.

What does this mean?
The nutrients in turmeric and ginger act synergistically against lipid and plaque growths in the arteries. The myriad of nutrients present in them eliminates cholesterol molecules thereby delaying the onset of heart problems.

3. It aids in heart disease prevention

The main result of high cholesterol levels is deterioration of heart health. Researchers believe that turmeric compounds can help slow down the development of such problems.

Investigations related to the same conducted by SK Shin and KB Soni independently have yielded beneficial results in this regard. The former’s study illustrated through a suitable animal that long term use of curcumin could lower the incidence of atherosclerosis through various mechanisms of LDL elimination and plasma cholesterol regulation.

Soni’s study on humans also demonstrated how curcumin administration successfully decreased LDL and enhanced HDL concentrations.

What does this mean?
The administration of curcumin activates lipid metabolism boosting the signal. This ability to manipulate lipid peroxidation and cholesterol mechanism impart heart disease preventive activity to the compound.

4. Turmeric normalizes lipid levels

Dyslipidemia or abnormally high lipid levels in the blood is a common characteristic of obese individuals which often leads to cardiovascular issues when not treated effectively.

Mohammadi A along with colleagues analyzed the effects of curcuminoids in a group of 30 obese individuals with excessive lipid levels. The study had a keen focus on anthropometric parameters such as lipid profiles, weight, and body mass index.

Through bio statistical estimations of the results, it was determined that curcuminoids effectively lowered serum triglyceride levels in the blood of the participants making them useful cardio protective agent in obese individuals.

What does this mean?
Curcuminoids are rich in antioxidant compounds that prevent the accumulation of lipids in the blood. These compounds also regulate cell signals and are believed to be responsible for the compound’s hypolipidemic activity.

turmeric benefits for high cholesterol

5. It is a natural antioxidant

Oxidative stress is a toxic condition where the rate at which harmful free radicles build up in the bloodstream exceeds the ability of antioxidant compounds to eliminate them. These free radicles allow LDL and cholesterol molecules to adhere to them making the arteries clogged.

Scientists investigated the bioactivity of curcumin against this process. Through a study on humans, they compared the effects of vitamin E to treat the same.

Through studying the oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC), they found a marked decrease in serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels in curcumin supplemented individuals.

What does this mean?
Since the compound, curcumin present in turmeric are capable of binding to and eliminating toxic free radicles, it has potential to be used as an antioxidant agent as it acts against cholesterol formation.

6. It regulates genes to lower cholesterol levels

It has been well established that curcumin is capable of reducing blood cholesterol levels. To understand the effects of this compound on intestinal uptake of cholesterol, Feng D carried out a study.

The main focus of the experiment was the interaction of curcumin with Niemann-Pick Cl-like 1 (NPC1L1) protein, a chief influence of cholesterol absorption by the gut.

Curcumin effects were assessed via a cell culture study. It was found that curcumin treatment actively suppressed the expression of NPC1L1, therefore, avoiding cholesterol absorption in the intestine.

What does this mean?
From the above-mentioned study, it can be understood that the administration of curcumin would be highly beneficial for individuals with high cholesterol. It manages cholesterol levels in the intestine and suppresses LDL promoting genes.

7. Curcumin in turmeric modulates lipid metabolism

One of the main reasons LDL collection in the blood stream takes place is due to a lack of effective metabolism of these molecules. The goal in cholesterol management is to improve HDL levels while decreasing LDL concentrations.

Recent studies aimed at boosting metabolic activities of lipids through natural products reveal that turmeric can be helpful in this regard as well. It has been determined through an animal model that Korean turmeric is helpful in regulating leptin (satiety hormone, is a contributor to obesity) secretion and in turn inducing lipolysis or breakdown of fats to fatty acids.

Extensive literature surveys of curcuminoid compounds gave rise to the conclusion that curcumin can up regulate HDL levels in the body. These findings are published in the Journal of Pharmacological Research, 2017.

What does this mean?
It can be implied from this study that turmeric could be potentially used to regulate leptin level which otherwise would lead to obesity. It induces breakdown of fats and improves HDL levels.

8. It protects liver health

Hepatic stress is a condition which arises due to excessive lipid peroxidation in the liver causing oxidative stress and damage to cells.

The ability of turmeric to relieve oxidative stress conditions in the liver has been studied using animal models.

This was due to the ability of the turmeric extracts to effectively decrease oxidative damage and regulate the activity of the antioxidant enzymes, alanine transaminase (ALT) and aspartate transaminase (AST).

What does this mean?
The results of this study indicate that turmeric is a useful preventive agent for oxidative stress induced forms of liver damage. It provides the essential antioxidants required to maintain hepatic cell health and ensures cholesterol level stability.

Dosage of Turmeric For High Cholesterol/Hypercholestrolemia

For treating high cholesterol related problems it is recommended to consume the herb in the form of Turmeric milk or turmeric tea.

Golden paste combines turmeric with black pepper to aid absorption by the body.

There is no specific optimal dosage. It varies from person to person based on what suits them. Starting with a low dose is advised to avoid gastric side effects.

Start with small doses such as ¼-1/2 tsp a day for a week and if no gastric side effects are seen increase gradually by ¼-1/2 tsp every week. The recommended dose is 1-2 tsp 2-3 times a day (precisely 1 tsp 3 times a day).

You can find the recipe for Golden Paste here. You can also make Golden Paste from fresh roots.

Avoid taking on an empty stomach and if taking large doses avoid taking it the same time of taking medications. (Read Does Turmeric cause acid reflux? Black pepper in GP: Does it cause drug interaction?)

Some good brands to purchase are mentioned in our recommendations of organic turmeric brands.

If taking turmeric supplements consult a health practitioner prior.

Precautions

Despite the multiple benefits turmeric has to offer, it is best to seek the advice of a medical professional before beginning its use as a supplement. (Read Side effects of Turmeric, Precautions with Turmeric use, Side effects and precautions with Curcumin)

Large dosages are sometimes linked to acid reflux. Its use is not advisable on an empty stomach.

Turmeric as spice must be taken in limited quantities if suffering from gut and kidney stones. (Is turmeric safe in gout? Does turmeric cause kidney stone?)

Turmeric has antiplatelet property, and hence turmeric supplements should be avoided if suffering from bleeding risks. You may consult a doctor before taking turmeric in this case. (Is turmeric a blood thinner?)

Curcumin interferes with drug metabolism enzymes and hence should not be taken concomitantly with any medication. Maintain a 3-4 hour gap between consuming the two.

Conclusion

Turmeric extracts and curcuminoids are excellent natural compounds for monitoring cholesterol related health issues. Their lipid lowering and antioxidant capacities enable them useful in the eradication of free radicles and LDL which pose threats to heart health.

Also, they regulate enzyme and gene signals to ensure that the walls of the arteries do not harden and blood flow to each organ of the body occurs seamlessly. Turmeric is an excellent add on therapy in high cholesterol or hypercholestrolemia.

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30 Comments

  1. I receive your emails and have learned so much about health and alternatives to the poisons mainstream healthcare offers. I have been using the paste for a couple of years, but am now wondering if CurcuminRich Theracurmin by Natural Factors is more bioavailable. If it is, then I will switch – I want the best benefit possible. Thanks!

    1. Hi Marcia. For daily health benefits, we recommend dietary turmeric as Golden Paste. The inclusion of black pepper and healthy fats makes it naturally bioavailable. As far as Theracurmin is concerned, we have listed them in the supplements article as some readers experience health conditions where treatment with turmeric supplements may be more beneficial than just dietary turmeric.
      So unless you are facing any chronic condition, we would not recommend turmeric supplements over dietary turmeric.

    1. It is absolutely fine to take turmeric in diet when taking birth control pill. If its turmeric supplements then it is best to maintain 3-4 hour gap and consult a doctor about the same.

  2. Not well researched. The tip-off is the part where it says pepper helps with the absorption of the curcumin. That information comes from a bogus study done by the pepper industry in India. The results of that study were so far out there and were never even remotely reproduced when done by everyone else.

  3. Just because something works in rabbits, mice, rats, cats or dogs does not equate to the same action attained when given to humans. It’s misleading and irresponsible to report “research findings” and make it seem as it’s from human trials.

  4. I take the Turmeric paste daily, it has helped with chronic back pain and in my partners case shoulder pain. I take three to four teaspoons a day and worked up to this over a couple of weeks, the benefits of this are easy to find online, there are turmeric users groups etc. The benefits are do great I will continue to take this permanently, its benefits to memory retention in old age are coming to the fore. However it needs to be taken with freshly ground black peppercorns to increase its effectiveness !! Look up the recipe and see your health improve. Like every other natural product do your homework and if you are on other meds check that out too. 🙂

  5. I have found that an easy way to consume ordinary (grocery store) turmeric powder and black pepper on a daily basis is to mix them in about 8 ounces of chocolate milk made with Nestle chocolate milk powder. It’s amazing how easy it is to suspend these items in the liquid by constant stirring and just drink them. In my case, I am also adding in cumin, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and coriander. Doesn’t taste as crazy as you might imagine. (As a denture wearer, I remove dentures to do this to avoid yellow staining of plastic from the turmeric. I don’t think it’s a problem with natural teeth, but plastic dentures are different in that regard.)

  6. What if your cholesterol os genetically acquired?
    Does turmeric still help? Or does one need to take cholesterol medication like crestor?

    1. Supplemental doses of turmeric can be harmful in gallstones for turmeric powder is found to cause gall bladder contraction which is problematic and painful if you have gallstones. Low doses of turmeric say 1/2 tsp can be included in diet.

  7. i am taking fresh turmeric about 1 inch daily with boiling milk in the night. i am regularly taking ecosprin and anti cholestrol medicine.how long i can use turmeric without any side effect.my cholesterol level is near to normal level.pl.suggest me

    1. You can take turmeric in diet for life. There are no side effects for the dose you are taking. In fact it would boost your immune system, keep your cholesterol under control and work as anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.

  8. For maintaining good health in general I wish to take admixture of turmeric powder 2gms +1gm black Pepper + 3gms Honey. How this combination shall be ? I am having BP issue. reading of BP 115/83. I look forward immediate reply as I wish to strat taking said mixture regularly. Thanks

  9. I have been taking turmeric (golden paste) for about 2 months and my LDL has increased considerably. I don’t understand why. I take about 3 teaspoons per day with meals.

    Jane

    1. This is an unusual finding. Any changes in the cooking oil or any medications that you are taking? Turmeric paste is advised with coconut or olive oil which do not pose such problems and the dosage that you are taking is safe. Are you using organic turmeric?

  10. IN THE ABOVE ARTILE ON “HOW TURMERIC CAN HELP IN HIGH COLESTEROL – PRECAUTIONS AND SIDE EFFECTS”, YOU MENTION THAT TURMERIC MAY CAUSE KIDNEY STONES. THAT IS THE FIRST TIME I HAVE HEARD THAT. I HAVE READ IN YOUR ARTICLES THAT TURMERIC CAN BE A PROBLEM IF ONE HAS GALLSTONES. DID YOU NOT MEAN GALLSTONES IN THIS ARTICLE.

    1. Turmeric powder contains oxalates. Oxalates are a risk factor for developing kidney stones if you are prone to it or if your diet contains high proportion of oxalates. So only if you are consuming high amounts of turmeric or if your diet already contains a lot of oxalates and turmeric adds to this load and you are prone to developing kidney stones then only would you face this side effect. Otherwise your healthy kidneys would just excrete those oxalates.
      Turmeric can cause gall bladder contractions at high doses and hence are to be avoided if suffering from gallstones.

  11. From the perspective of functional medicine, this is just an allopatic approach. As long as people eat and live the same way nothing will basically change. I love turmeric/curcumin and I appreciate what you do but it’s time people took responsebility for their overall health. Educating themselves is key and not at all difficult when all the information is available on the internet . Stop mopping up water with the tap running!

  12. Keshav, are spices irradiated, are they labelled if so? How can we be sure we are getting non-irradiated turmeric. Am asking because of radiolytic by-products, damage to enzymes in foods and several other problems with irradiation used to sterilize food.

    1. Hi Jen, very good question. Yes spices are exposed to radiation. The norms of this may vary from country to country.