Niacin is a B vitamin that can help lower your bad cholesterol by increasing your good cholesterol.

While the majority of the high cholesterol discussion normally revolves around lowering the “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, maintaining a healthy level of the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) helps keep your heart healthy. That’s why HDL is known as the “good” cholesterol.

Niacin, a B3 vitamin, raises your HDL cholesterol, which effectively sweeps out LDL cholesterol and deposits it into your liver. It’s then excreted from your body.

Used alone or with other treatments, research shows niacin can combat heart disease, hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), and other cholesterol-related ailments.

Naturally Occurring Niacin

Niacin is found in several foods:

  • dairy products
  • enriched breads and cereals
  • lean meats
  • poultry
  • fish
  • nuts
  • legumes
  • eggs
  • avocados
  • dates
  • tomatoes
  • leafy vegetables
  • carrots
  • broccoli
  • asparagus
  • sweet potatoes

It’s also found in brewer’s yeast – the kind used to make beer – and in the popular Australian spread Vegemite.

Niacin Supplement

Your doctor could also prescribe high levels of niacin under the name brands Niaspan, Niacor, and Slo-Niacin. It is also available in over-the-counter supplement form but you should consult your doctor before starting a supplement treatment or any other kind of treatment.