A low-dose statin was found to be more effective at reducing low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) than 6 commonly used dietary supplements marketed for cholesterol health, according to research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2022.

The single-center, prospective, randomized, single-blind SPORT study (Supplements, Placebo, or Rosuvastatin; ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT04846231) included 199 adults between 40 to 75 years of age with no personal history of cardiovascular disease, an LDL-C between 70mg/dL and 189mg/dL, and a 5-20% risk of developing atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease within 10 years.

Patients were randomly assigned to receive either rosuvastatin 5mg daily, placebo, fish oil (Nature Made® fish oil 2400mg), cinnamon (Nutriflair™ brand cinnamon 2400mg), garlic (Garlique™ brand garlic with 5000mcg of allicin), turmeric (BioSchwartz brand turmeric curcumin with bioperine 4500mg), plant sterols (Nature Made® CholestOff Plus™ with 1600mg of plant sterols), or red yeast rice (Arazo Nutrition brand of red yeast rice 2400mg). The primary endpoint was the percent change in LDL-C from baseline for rosuvastatin compared with placebo and each supplement after 28 days.

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Results showed an average LDL-C reduction of 37.9% in the statin group, while those in the dietary supplement groups saw LDL-C changes comparable to those in the placebo group. Patients treated with rosuvastatin also had an average reduction in total cholesterol of 24% and a decrease in triglycerides of 19%. Compared with placebo, there were no differences observed in either total cholesterol or triglycerides for any of the supplements.

Findings also showed that plant sterols lowered high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) and garlic increased LDL-C when compared with placebo. No significant change in HDL-C was observed with rosuvastatin.  During the 28 days, none of the study interventions were reported to have a notable impact on inflammatory markers, as measured by the percent change in high sensitivity C reactive protein.

“Although there are prior studies demonstrating that red yeast rice and plant sterol supplements may reduce LDL cholesterol, the findings of our study underscore that the contents of these dietary supplements may vary. Therefore, they do not produce consistent reductions in cholesterol,” said study author Luke J. Laffin, MD, co-director of the Center for Blood Pressure Disorders at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. “This study sends an important public health message that dietary supplements commonly taken for ‘cholesterol health’ or ‘heart health’ are unlikely to offer meaningful impact on cholesterol levels.”


6 common “heart-health” supplements ineffective at lowering cholesterol compared to statins. News release. American Heart Association. November 6, 2022. Accessed November 8, 2022. https://newsroom.heart.org/news/6-common-heart-health-supplements-ineffective-at-lowering-cholesterol-compared-to-statins?preview=d1d1

This article originally appeared on MPR