The Natural Way to Lower Your Cholesterol

The most effective natural strategies for managing your cholesterol.

from Health...The Reader's Digest Version (Reader's Digest Association Books)

Lower Your Cholesterol© iStockphoto/Thinkstock
Cholesterol-lowering drugs are cheap and effective — and if your doctor says you need them, we have no argument. But if it’s a judgment call, consider this: So many people nowadays address every problem with a pill that over medication is a serious health problem in itself. Besides, not addressing the root causes of high cholesterol, such as a poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle, puts you at risk of other chronic illnesses, like hypertension and diabetes — even if you take a pill for your cholesterol. All of this adds up to powerful reasons to try the three most effective natural strategies for managing cholesterol:

Rough up your diet.
The No. 1 foodstuff for lowering cholesterol is soluble fiber — it reduces the absorption of cholesterol in the intestine. One study showed that people who eat a high-fiber diet have about a 30 percent lower risk of heart disease than people who shun the stuff. Bonus: A fiber-rich diet will probably reduce your waistline, too, because these foods fill you up. Oatmeal, apples, barley, and sun-dried plums (also known as prunes) are all soluble superstars. See our gallery of recipes with 7 or more grams of fiber per serving.

Follow this training plan.
While any exercise is good for your health, some workouts are particularly effective at raising HDL, the good kind of cholesterol. First, the longer your aerobic workout (as measured by duration or distance), the better the results — intensity doesn’t matter as much.

A combination of aerobic and strength training can shave pounds — which can move your cholesterol numbers in the right direction too. Try a weekly program that alternates two or three days of walks, runs, or bike rides at a moderate pace with two or three days of total-body resistance training. (If you’ve been sedentary, work up slowly under the guidance of a doctor and trainer.)

Become less of a man or woman.
If you lose weight — as little as five or ten pounds — your cholesterol numbers will improve. Even better news: If you follow our first two tips, you’ll likely drop pounds automatically.

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