A food supplement called red rice yeast, used in traditional Chinese medicine, has been shown by reasonable scientific studies to lower cholesterol as well as bad cardiovascular events by 15-30%. The suggested dose is one to four of the 600 mg capsules at bedtime. It's available at many drugstore chains and is a good alternative option for people who are unable or unwilling to take prescription statins (such as Lipitor). Like prescription statins, red rice yeast can cause a rare liver side effect. Talk to your doctor before taking any supplement and plan to check your cholesterol levels after about two months of taking red rice yeast.
Other supplements are less effective at lowering your cholesterol. Omega-3 fatty acids can have a modest lowering effect on a blood lipid called triglycerides. However, you’d need to take over 3,000 mg to get a significant reduction. Cutting down on dietary carbs and exercise are much more effective by comparison.
The medical literature does not show any evidence for garlic or its extracts to have any effect on cholesterol, contrary to some beliefs.
It’s also important to remember that food supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Make sure you buy supplements from reputable brands and talk with your doctor to avoid inconsistent dosages and contaminants.