10 Simple Ways to Lower Your Cholesterol

So, your doctor warned you that you need to get your bad cholesterol (LDL and triglyceride) levels down, your good cholesterol (HDL) level up, and you don't know where to start? (See also: 13 Natural and Easy Ways to Lower Your Blood Sugar)

Here are 10 easy things you can do to start lowering your overall cholesterol today.

1. Exercise

Okay, so this is the least fun — we might as well get it out of the way early. Aerobic exercise like running, swimming, or cycling (or fast walking; let's be realistic) have been shown to lower triglyceride levels while increasing the good cholesterol (HDL). Remember to start slow and set realistic exercise goals, and of course, talk to your doctor first before embarking in any exercise regimen.

2. Fish Oil Supplements

Well, it might not be the most pleasant pill, but fish oil can lower triglyceride levels by as much as 30%. You'll have to take quite a bit, though (between 2-4 grams per day). If you enjoy eating fish and want to get as much fish oil as you can (without too much mercury), aim for mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, and salmon.

3. Psyllium Fiber

Psyllium husk fiber is a really easy way to flush nasty cholesterol out of your system. You can get psyllium in fiber drinks like Metamucil, or buy the husks and add them to other foods. Just be careful not to overdo it. Fiber can whisk a lot of things out of your system pretty quickly, if you catch my drift.

4. Plant Sterols and Stanols

Plant sterols and stanols are added to many popular foods these days, like margarine, orange juice, and yogurt, and can lower bad cholesterol by a modest amount. You can also buy them in supplement form, although stanols and sterols may not be utilized as easily by the body in supplement form as they are when they occur naturally in food. Foods like…

5. Fibrous Veggies

If you're not quite ready to take the Metamucil plunge, you can always start slow by adding fibrous fruits and vegetables to your diet. Oranges, apples, greens, beans, okra, and eggplant are good, fiber-rich foods that can be easily incorporated into most diets.

6. Hard Nuts

Walnuts, almonds, pecans, and pistachios have been shown to lower bad cholesterol. Steer clear of macadamia nuts, brazil nuts, and cashews, though — they have a bad net effect on cholesterol.

7. Green Tea

Is there anything that green tea can't do? We already know that green tea can lower blood sugar, but green tea also lowers total cholesterol (while increasing the good kind of cholesterol, HDLs).

8. Red, Red Wine

Moderate consumption of red wine (stick with cabs and pinots, pass on the merlot) can help lower bad cholesterol, boost good cholesterol, and prevent dangerous blood clots. However, the benefits of drinking red wine should not compel people who do not already consume wine to begin doing so. To get the most bang for your buck, stick to a single 4 ounce serving per day (men can consume up to two 4 ounce servings per day).

9. Avoid Transfats

Transfats have been a bit of a public villain for a while now, and it's partly because they have been proven time and time again to have a bad effect on cholesterol. So stay away from them, okay?

10. Quit Smoking

Did you know that your HDL ("good") cholesterol levels increase as soon as you stop smoking? Hey, I didn't say it was going to be easy, but it will be really, really good for you.

How many of these bad cholesterol lowering practices do you follow?

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