Feb 02

I’ve tried to give blood regularly all of my adult life. I’m a little embarrassed to say it, but up until a few years ago, giving blood was the only time I ever checked my cholesterol. A typical man! Anyway, I would get a report back every time I gave blood and every year it went higher and higher! By the time I was almost 40, my cholesterol level almost 270! For a healthy man, doctors want that level to be at or below 200.

That last report was a wake up call for me. I decided that I may die some other way, but it would not be because of what I ate. I did a lot of research and a lot of talking with my doctor. I made several lifestyle changes and after 1 year, my cholesterol was down in the 170’s! That’s almost a 100 point difference. This brief article is about how I made it happen.

My doctors said losing weight by getting on a low fat diet would help to lower my cholesterol. I decided to go with the Weight Watchers Core Plan, which is basically a low fat, high fiber diet. The diet allows you to eat all you want of certain foods, mostly non-processed stuff and lean meats. It’s a great diet that is easy to follow. I ate all of the time and lost 15 pounds in 3 weeks. I followed the diet very strictly for six months. I also exercised three or four times a week. After about six months I had my cholesterol checked and my score was 209! I was pumped.

After I got over the excitement, I realized that I had to do better. 209 was great but it still was over 200. My doctor said if I didn’t keep it down I would have to go on medicine to lower my cholesterol. I really didn’t want to do that if I could help it. I couldn’t follow the diet any better because I was already following it to a T.

I knew in my gut that there had to be other ways to get my cholesterol down. I was right! I did lots of research and I found lots of helpful information. I tried to decide what I could and couldn’t do. I put what I learned into practice and six months later my cholesterol was down into the 170 range! Here is what I learned:

1) Stay away from trans fat! No ifs, ands or but! Trans fat has been proven to lower good cholesterol and raise bad cholesterol. If it has “Partially Hydrogenated” anything in it… run away!

2) Keep your saturated fat to a minimum. Saturated fat raise bad cholesterol levels in most people. I try to keep my intake around a few grams a day.

3) Add good fats to your diet. POLY and MONO fats are helpful with cholesterol levels. You can add them to your diet with nuts and olives. I eat a small handful of almonds about 3 times a week. I eat 5 or 6 olives a few times a week.

4) Limit your total fat intake. I try to eat 20 to 40 grams a day. None of us should be overweight. Excess fat or too many carbs will lead to that. Ask your doctor about what is right for you.

5) Add Omega-3 fatty acids to your diet. These help your body get rid of excess bad cholesterol. You can do it by eating wild-caught deep water fish, or by taking a fish oil capsule. I take one fish oil capsule a day about 5 times a week. I use enteric coated capsules so I don’t have mackerel breath.

6) If alcohol is not a problem for you, drink a glass of wine once or twice a week. It’s not completely understood why, but this also helps cholesterol levels. My theory is that when the liver breaks down the alcohol, it also breaks down the bad cholesterol. It may be that it’s a great stress reliever. No one knows exactly for sure yet. I must caution though that tests have been coming in that say drinking more than 1 glass a day is harmful to your health. Like Granny always said, “Everything in moderation.”

7) Eat garlic! Garlic has been proven to lower cholesterol. I take a natural garlic supplement about 5 times a week. My wife and I love to add a fresh clove of garlic to just about everything we cook.

8) Drink 8 ounces of 100% grape juice or orange juice several times a week. Both have been shown to lower cholesterol levels. Be careful not to drink more than eight ounces or the extra carbs may push up your triglyceride levels. Also, juice is not the best thing for kids always because of the high sugar levels.

9) For breakfast at least 5 times a week eat oatmeal or any high fiber, low sugar cereal. I alternate between oatmeal and Fiber One. Fiber One has an outrageous amount of fiber and no sugar. My doctor says it’s basically hay! I’d have to agree but I really do like it. Anyway, high fiber has been shown to help cholesterol levels. Another advantage is clock-like regularity!

10) TREAT YOURSELF every few days. Once you get your cholesterol levels where they need to be, it’s ok to treat yourself here and there. Have a bowl of ice cream. Have a piece of cake. Sometimes people need to be reminded that enjoying life is an important aspect of living. So go and treat yourself. You’ll be glad you did.

By putting these ten principles to work in my life, I have kept my cholesterol levels in the 170’s for over a year. These days, I look forward to getting my levels checked every 6 months. I hope that what I have learned will help you.

This is not to be taken as professional medical advice but the opinions of a lay person. Please consult your doctor before beginning any diet or exercise regiment.

15 Responses to “How I Lowered my Cholesterol Almost 100 Points in One Year”

  1. Jan says:

    Thanks for a great article! Well thought out, and well written. I found it extremely helpful.
    I just found out I have very high cholesterol: 305, and desperately want to stay off the prescription drugs. I thought if I radically changed my diet and exercise regularly, maybe I could change my cholesterol on my own. But then I thought, wow, I have more than 100 points to lower it by, is that even possible? I am greatly encouraged by your results, and will follow your lead and advice. Thanks, Jan

  2. Choleslo says:

    What happens if your high cholesterol is inherited genetically? Even diet and exercise have no effect in lowering cholesterol. Your only bet would have to be either medication or natural supplements to combat the problem.

  3. randyb says:

    That is probably true. Please contact your physician. But….. i have inherited it also. The addition of the right kind of fats (poly and monos), staying away from the bad (trans and saturated), and the occasional glass of wine have kept my cholesterol in a healthy range since the time I originally wrote this article.

  4. pace says:

    Thank you so much for sharing! I’ll bear that in mind and be motivated!! :) Really appreciate it!

  5. roxiej says:

    I appreciate you sharing your story and information with the public. I went to the doctor a year ago and my Cholesterol level was 203; after taking Zocor for 3 months, I gained 20 lbs; my cholesterol level shot up to 232; my Triglycerides shot from 201 to 280; my HDL went down from 27 to 25 and my LDL from 40 to 56. Go figure, everything got worse instead of better. Then, she changed my med to Crestor and My Cholesterol dropped to 231, my Tris to 270, my HDL still 25 and my LDL is at 54. So, I went off my meds and started a concoction that an elder from my church gave me which is 2 qt pure, not from concentrate, apple juice, 1 qt grape juice, and 1 c. apple cider vinegar; I drink 1c./day. She said her dr gave her that recipe years ago and she has never had high cholesterol since. My dr now wants to put me on Zetia but, after I went off my meds and begin to drink the juice, I have lost 20lbs. I go back in 3 months to check my cholesterol. I think I’m going to continue the drink, the low-fat diet, more fresh fruits and veggies, nuts, and see how that goes. I’m mid 40’s and 100 lbs overweight, and a smoker; so, I think I’m pretty blessed with my Cholesterol being where it was. I don’t exercise faithfully so, I’m pretty blessed. I have started the treadmill and working outside now that it is warm. Again, thanks for sharing–it can’t make it worse like the meds did. I mean if a med has the opposite effect of what it is intended for, than common sense tells me to stop taking it! : ) Unfortunately, my dr cannot explain nor can she understand why I don’t want to take the meds–my body–my life–my choice. Just so others know, just because a certain medicine does not have a side effect in the number of people participating in a trial, does not mean that medicine cannot have a different adverse or side effect in someone else; God created us all equal but we are all different and our organs and chemical makeup is individual. It amazes me how Zetia has been shown not to cause weight gain, and yet various people on the internet have posted that they have gained up to 20lbs after taking it and have not changed their diet in the least bit. That’s questionable to me???
    Thanks again, roxiej RN, BSN

  6. Shannon says:

    This is very helpful! Thanks for posting. I will get on the ball and have mine checked again in 6 months and see if I can do just as well as you.

  7. Leona Smith says:

    About 3 years ago, My doctor told me that I have a high rish for heart attack and my high cholesterol was high. so at my age I have to start cholesterol medicine right away. I’m about at my age now when my dad was when he had his first heart attact. I was willing to do whatever the doctor told me. I did all the heart healthy diet, exercies, and cholesterol medicine. It was a lot of work to get used to. But my LDL dropped, and my HDL went up. And 8 months later, I was fit, I’d lost weight, and I felt great. I was golden. After a year or so of keeping up with my heart-healthy routine, I decided to make a change. “I figured I was ready to stop taking the cholesterol medicine. As long as I kept up with the healthy eating and exercise, I could keep my cholesterol down. It made sense to me, anyway.”

  8. karlyn says:

    this was very useful info thanks.

  9. Erdem says:

    I just wanted confirm that all mentioned above worked extremely well for me, I have been trying to lower my cholesterol levels for more than 2 years, but I have never been so serious about it like I was in the last 6 months. I have been on a simple diet: breakfast: muesli+apple or banana, lunch: salad with chicken or fish + half a liter fresh grapefruit juice and, simple and light dinner like clean cut turkey breast, smoked fish+salad, or just pasta diet for 6 months. I gave up read meat completely for the last 6 months, I drank min of 3,5 litres of non carbonated water, I ate lots of fruit and a handfull of almonds or other nuts everyday, the only pills I used are 500 mg vitamin C pills and for omega 3-6 support I took daily 3 X 1000 mg fish oil pills. In terms of excercise I did min. 4 times a week 7-10 km (4-6,5 miles) runs. I lost 11-12 kg weight, my total cholesterol came down from 264 to 175 this week only. I wanted to share my experience but also wanted to state that with cholesterol there is no easy way of progress, it goes down very slowly and you need to be consistent. it is a bit frustrating at times not being able to eat what you want especially sweets etc, but thank god my wife is into baking healthier options like cupcakes, home made apple pie and I tasted those without exaggerating the amounts. I feel great now, once the diet becomes your norm after a month or so, you do not get cravings for other stuff. My doctor told me I could not lower it without pills as she believes that I have it in the family, she told me that I need to take Zocor. I actually bought a package and carry it in my bag all the time, everytime I reach to take something from my bag, I know it is there, so I know I have to be careful. After reading articles about side effects of Statin, I think I will stick to my boring diet and running. Hopefully I will continue to feel great, look better, still keep it under control. If you are consistent with your lifestyle, you can lower it to normal levels as well.

  10. hellomyeggo says:

    Okay… I just had to comment on this! I’ve been trying to lower my cholestrol for the past 3 months. The end on August I had my cholesterol tested, here were my results.

    Total cholesterol… 285
    LDL (bad)… sadly this box was left blank, but you can imagine it was high.
    HDL (good)… 55
    Triglycerides… 491

    Yeah, Wow!

    Okay, now before I get into it I’m going to tell you the good news! After 3 months I had it retested… just a few days ago, and here are the results.

    Total cholesterol… 200
    LDL (bad)… 110
    HDL (good)… 75
    Triglycerides… 74

    3 months… people!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    You can do this… but you have to WANT to do it, and you have to be SERIOUS about it!

    I was NOT going to go on any medication for cholesterol!!! Never… I was determined to do this on my own. I was hoping I could do it.

    <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

    So now you're wondering what the heck I actually did, right? Well… I'm going to tell ya.

    First I got a book from the library called… The complete idiot's guide to the TLC diet / by Diane A. Welland. LOVED the book!!!!!!! Read it from cover to cover, and then went back and read parts of it again! I didn't really know that much about cholesterol and what was good and what was bad before I read the book, so yeah… this was like an eye opener for sure!

    Then I stopped eating cookies and crackers, and candy, and anything like that. Just stopped. Which wasn't really that hard for me because I'm more of a salt person than sweet.

    No micro popcorn… no chips… the only salty chippy thing I ate was pretzels, and especially those flat smooshed ones that look like a chip, where you can dip it in things like hummus and guac! You find them in the produce section of the grocery store, by the deli.. and I eat them just about every day! To help with my salty snacky fixation.

    I now eat a TON of fresh raw veggies… cucumbers/green peppers/carrot sticks… eat them plain or dip them in hummus or fresh guac. Yeah I say guac because I started buying one avacado and letting it ripen for a couple days, use it, and go right back out and buy another one. I ate one every week for sure, well.. actually I split it with my husband so I was only eating half of one at a time.

    I started making homemade soup every week… chicken and carrots, and onion, and brown rice! YES I only use brown rice now, and it's very good… and high in fiber, which lowers your cholesterol… and I'm proof of that. And chili… just any ole homemade soup and add the brown rice to it!!! And kidney beans, and black beans… I started eating a LOT more of them in my homemade soups! I ate homemade soup just about every day for lunch, or supper, or even breakfast!!! Lots of veggies and high fiber in there.

    I started eating cans of tuna for lunch… I especially like the lemon pepper one… sometimes I'd eat the entire can, right out of the can… for lunch. Have a few raw veggies with it, and those yummy smooshed pretzels… Lots of fiber and protien in there.

    I started eating more fish for supper, not not going crazy over it… not even once a week, but that was more than I ate before. Fish, brown rice, broccoli… it was good!

    I ate an apple just about every afternoon… and if I could afford the calories I added 1/4 cup of nuts! I completely gave up peanut butter, which I absolutely LOVED!!! But the sweet apple, and the peanuts at the same time was my afternoon mouth watering TREAT!!!

    I lost 23 lbs in 3 months…. honest to God!!! And I wasn't like starving hungry either… it was soooo easy! And I've dieted many times before and NEVER had these results! I started keeping a food journel right off… writing down everything I ate. I went to this website and used it for a guide for my personal body. It really helped me stay on track.

    http://www.webmd.com/diet/calc-bmi-plus

    <<<<<<<<<<<

    AND… I started walking every single day!!!!!!!!!!!! I made up a route in my neighborhood so I didn't have to drive to the gym, or do anything really like exercise, because honestly.. I'm just not into that. I timed it the first couple times I walked it to make sure it last half an hour, walking very briskly. I went down a few blocks and then up.. and then zigzagged my way back home. I usually walked in the mornings because first off I wanted to get it over with so I made sure I actually did it, but then sometimes in the later afternoons I found myself wanting to walk again, so I did! It's a nice time to reflect and think, and whatever… I really kind of grew to like it.. believe it or not.

    <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

    So here is what I ate on a typical day…

    breakfast… banana/ low fat yogurt/homemade soup
    morning snack… raw veggies/hummus
    lunch… sandwich on 45 calorie whole wheat bread with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, alfalfa sprouts… anything to add more veggies to my diet. And dill mustard!!! LOVE dill mustard!
    afternoon snack… cut up apple/1/4 cup peanuts (peanuts are very high in calories so watch it! If you've eaten a lot of calories already today just skip the nuts.
    supper… some sort of lean meat/brown rice/broccoli… or spaghetti with whole wheat noodles, or fish with brown rice and a veggie… we have a lot of salads and guac and hummus and pretzels raw veggies to dip. Be creative, have what you like.. but make sure it falls into the healthy catagory!

    Also… VERY important…. I use to LOVE those heavy beers… yeah… LOVED them!!! But I never knew they had like 15-30 carbs in every beer!!! YIKES… know wonder my trigycerides were up that high! I honestly think it was the heavy beers that did it.. because I quite drinking those almost completely.. you see I wrote 'almost' because now and then I treat myself to one or two… (smiles).. but for the most part I drink Miller 64 now when I drink. Yeah.. only 64 calories and only like 2 carbs a beer!!! And it tastes pretty good for a light beer too.

    <<<<<<<<<<<<<<

    So that's what I did, what I do… and it's been 3 months and my cholesterol has dropped soooo unbelieveably, and I was sooo scared that the results would come back saying they didn't change much… and I would be discouraged because I REALLY TRIED!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But… Wow… I started laughing on the phone with the nurse because she thought I was on medication for it, and I said, "NOOOOOOO…. I did this on my own!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" And she said, "Well.. whatever you're doing just keep it up.. because it's WORKING!"

    And I'm telling you this, because honest to God, you can all do this too!!! You just have to be in the right mind set, and REALLY want to do it, and stick with it and be SERIOUS about it!

    You will be soooooo proud of yourself!

  11. hellomyeggo says:

    …and I forgot to say, which I wanted too, and I’m sorry about it… is that the author of this article did a REALLY good job of explaining and telling you the right things that worked!

  12. randyb says:

    That’s really awesome! I’ve kept mine down since I wrote this article years ago. It can be done!

  13. OliasofSunhillow says:

    Hi Lots of common sense, what you are really doing is lowering inflamation which in turn is lowering your cholesterol. I would add that taking Krill oil rather then fish oil may be better as there has been a Canadian study that showed it was far more effective than fish oil. My own experience bares this out. Good luck

  14. CJS says:

    Two years ago aged 47 I was at 269 total with an HDL of 41 and a LDL of 169. I weighed 240lb on my 5’10” so pretty unfit and fat! I have now lost 50lbs over those 2 years and had my cholesterol checked the other day. Total 233 HDL 49 and LDL 159 so pretty disappointing I was told I would need meds but have decided against this and found this site. I’m going to give it a go as a friend of mine took statins in his 40’s and suffered memory issues. I don’t want this for me! I currently run/jog about 2 miles every day but will increase that to 3. I like the idea of eating to better health rather than pills. I love salads but my weakness is cheese…I ADORE cheese…I must make an effort!!!!!! I will report back in 6 months! Thanks for the tips people and good luck to all!

  15. randyb says:

    That’s exciting! Keep up the good work. How’s it coming now?

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