High cholesterol levels pose a grave danger to your heart. The good news is that these seven easy — and inexpensive — natural methods are very effective at cutting cholesterol.
- Swap spreads Studies show that plant sterols lower total cholesterol levels by six percent and LDL ('bad') cholesterol by up to 14 percent. They're found in some brands of margarine — look for products labelled as containing plant sterols, phytosterols, or beta-sitosterol.
- Be full of beans Nutritious and cheap, beans contain a water-soluble fibre called pectin that binds onto cholesterol and shifts it out of the body before it causes trouble. In one study, men who ate 1 cup of cooked beans a day lowered their cholesterol by 20 percent in just three weeks.
- Go fish Fish oil supplements contain eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), dietary fats that take aim directly at high triglycerides and boost HDL ('good') cholesterol. They're also potent blood thinners, so they prevent clotting and help to regulate heart rhythm.
- Try tea The tannins found in tea may help lower cholesterol. One study of people with mild high total cholesterol who drank five cups of black tea daily found that they had an average drop of five percent in total cholesterol and 11 percent in LDL.
- Sip psyllium Fibre-rich psyllium seed husks (from your healthfood store) lower cholesterol. In one study of men with elevated cholesterol, taking a teaspoonful of powdered psyllium in water three times daily lowered total cholesterol levels by an impressive 15 percent in eight weeks.
- Add garlic It contains organo-sulphur compounds that reduce the stickiness of human blood platelets, and reduce levels of unhealthy fats in the blood. It also appears to inhibit the manufacture of cholesterol in the liver and possibly increase the excretion of total cholesterol.
- Take vitamin E While it doesn't actually lower LDL levels, it makes them less dangerous. When cholesterol becomes damaged through oxidation, it settles on the inside of the body's arteries. Vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant nutrient, helps by protecting cholesterol from oxidation.