A few months ago, after a regular check-up, my doctor called to tell me that I had high cholesterol, something that I know runs in my family. He immediately wanted to put me on meds, but I was hesitant, having heard about myriad side effects from cholesterol-lowering drugs. I asked my doctor if I could have 6 months to try to lower my cholesterol naturally. He gave me 3. This is how I did it.
Lower your cholesterol without meds.
I had heard from various friends and family members that I should just go on medication for my cholesterol since I’m not (too) overweight, go to the gym regularly, and my diet doesn’t seem to be a factor (I don’t eat red meat or cheese). I was told that my cholesterol was high because of my age and my family history. Still, I was determined to give it my best shot.
As you read, keep in mind that I’m not a doctor, just a person who did her research – and had success. Nothing written here should be construed as medical advice. When in doubt, consult your physician.
Here was my strategy. First, I added:
Cholestoff. The nurse practitioner in my doctor’s office recommended Cholestoff to me. This was a game changer. Made entirely of plant sterols and stanals, which are proven to reduce dietary cholesterol. 2 pills twice a day works like gangbusters. You can find a big, economy-sized bottle at Costco. If you take these pills religiously, you will see your cholesterol drop. Please note: For those who have trouble swallowing pills, these are rather large.
Red Yeast Rice pills. These are another natural supplement that I was also able to find at Costco. In Chinese medicine, red yeast rice is used to lower cholesterol, improve blood circulation, and improve digestion. Red yeast rice contains chemicals that are similar to prescription statin medications.
Resveratrol pills. Actually, my doctor recommended red wine, which contains resveratrol naturally, but I like white wine, not red. I decided on Resveratrol pills instead and found these at Costco. According to the Mayo Clinic, resveratrol antioxidants may increase levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol) and protect against cholesterol buildup.
Additional supplements: I also added CoQ10 and fish oil pills daily, both of which have been found to help lower cholesterol naturally.
Foods: The “Yes” List.
Some great foods for lowering your cholesterol are:
- Dark chocolate
- Beans (kidney, navy, pinto, black, chickpea or butter beans)
I did my best to try to eat these frequently, if not every day. Note: Not all oatmeal is created equal. Look for the less-sugary, natural brands. Also: Nuts can be very fattening, so don’t go crazy! And as for chocolate, a tiny taste is best. I found Trader Joe’s Dark Cacoa Nibs to be just what the doctor ordered. And eating a cup of any type of beans a day can lower cholesterol by as much as 10% in 6 weeks.
For liquids, choose:
- Green tea
- Dark grape juice
- Pomegranate juice
- Blueberry juice
- Red wine
Green tea, if consumed plain, has zero calories, but the others do not, so moderation is key if you’re worried about weight gain.
Foods: The “No” List.
- Ice cream
- Meats (eat less of these)
- Fried foods
Suggestions: The more you can eat plant-based foods, the better. Try to reign in dairy and meat consumption. Even chicken and turkey contain cholesterol, not just red meats. Opt for margarine instead of butter. Egg whites or Egg Replacer instead of eggs. Cut back on foods like pizza.
What else can you do?
Start reading labels. Try to choose foods with zero cholesterol. For instance, 1 cup of lobster bisque soup has 100 mg of cholesterol whereas creamy butternut squash soup made without butter has 0 mg cholesterol.
Eat at home to control your ingredients. But if you plan on eating out, ask for a nutrition guide! This is a must because you can’t just “guess” that an El Torito Grilled Chicken Quesadilla has 481 mgs of cholesterol. If the restaurant’s nutrition guide doesn’t include cholesterol, go somewhere else!
Exercise is helpful. But you already knew this.
Weight loss helps. Easier said than done. (I think I actually gained weight, due to binging on nuts.)
Stick to it!
Lowering your cholesterol is not hard if you are willing to adjust your diet and take your supplements. If your New Year’s Resolution is to lower your cholesterol, this “diet” is something you can stick to and see results. I am living proof! After 3 months, I took another blood test and my doctor told me that my cholesterol was normal and I didn’t need to go on meds. After a few slip-ups over Christmas (it’s hard to stay on any diet during the holidays!), I am back to taking my supplements and doing my best to eat well so that my cholesterol levels don’t spike again.
Do you have high cholesterol?
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Did you take all of the supplement you listed or you chose one?
I took, and still take, all of them. But if I had to choose only one, it would be the Cholestoff.
Hi! It’s been a few years, are you still taking all of these and how’s the cholesterol today?
I’ve been going back and forth trying to keep mine down naturally so I’m giving your info a go this time.
I am still taking these supplements, although not as religiously as I probably should, and I am still not on any prescription medication for cholesterol. I don’t need it.
Becky Dixon says
Well, it’s been 3 months since I started the regimen you described minus the red yeast rice, along with exercise and keto as I’ve read and heard others have lowered their cholesterol with it and it has many benefits…aaaaand….it went up a point!!! From 172 to 173 and I feel defeated needless to say. I think my high cholesterol is hereditary so I’m going to try a statin for 3 months as advised by one of the ladies in my Dr’s office who also had hereditary high cholesterol. She used a statin for only 3 months and said her cholesterol is normal now and she doesn’t have to take them any longer. Soooo, hoping it just needs a kick in the pants! I’ll report back in 3 months then 3 months thereafter to see if it stays down.
Why is that ?
I have tried taking cholestoff and it did help. Problem is they were so HUGE and difficult for me to swallow I stopped taking them and went up to 279! If this was available in a smaller pill or chew Id take them.
they sell pill cutters for that.
These are big black gelcaps, so a pill cutter would not work.
Try taking it with a spoonfull of applesause. thats what i use.
Can you break them in half ?
The red yeast and rice is a natural statin. The pills are not quite as gigantic and you can also get them as capsules. Try them and see if that helps.
A note here… I cannot take statin drugs, and after the 2nd time, unfortunately for me, in 2014, I still suffer side effects of them. So I considered red yeast too as I read it helped. But there was as warning someplace that you should be aware that you can suffer a similar side effects as a statin drug, so I didn’t take it.
Yes, red yeast and rice is a natural statin. Make sure to consult with your doctor.
I can’t take statins either , looking for something else also I think I may try something
fatty liver , if I can figure out what exactly that would be
I was taking the Red Yeast and it made my muscles feel sore in the morning mainly. It was kind of like when you first start exercising with the soreness but never went away.
Kim R says
I am in your exact same boat! Taking 10 different supplements now instead of one cholesterol pill (I have till April to get the number down). Any suggestions for adding more beans?? I can eat more fruit and veggies easy, also added oatmeal and nuts, but I’m making dinner for the family and I’m stuck on beans.
Mara Sweet says
You might want to try our black bean brownies recipe. You truly cannot tell they’re made with beans!
Pamela Joy says
Did you get your cholesterol down? I’ve just started working on mine.
Look up Astaxanthin in clinical studies
Are you able to provide the supplement dosages you take on a daily basis? Did you just follow the suggested amounts on the bottles?
Shyrelle Capers says
Are canned beans ok?
Mara Sweet says
Stephanie Tarver says
Did you take the red yeast rice with CoQ10 and if so what were the dosages, how many did you take per day?
Uugghh? I was told at my recent Dr.’s. My cholesterol level is high. I’m like huh?
I “thought” I was eating healthy. Knowing I rather look for natural ways to heal my body, my Dr. gave me until my next appt to lower it. I have been researching and researching, and stumbled on this site. Thank for sharing.
I’m still following this protocol and have been able to avoid meds! Good luck!
So instead of taking ONE prescription pill, you are taking 4 pills?? That are “natural”??? Soooo not regulated by the FDA….
Most Are Blind To The Truth says
If you think the FDA has our best interest in mind you need to rethink that. They care only about their relationship with big pharma.
Thank you for providing this info. I
Thank you for providing this info. I also had my cholesterol tested late December 2017 and was advised to start statin meds. I actually filled the prescription, but could not bring myself to take the first pill. I wanted to try diet and exercise first.
I modified my diet in many of the same ways as you, but did not take the supplements.
I ate many of the good foods from your list. Cheerios, and Outmeal for breakfast. Skim Milk or Soy milk mixed with cut up fruit (grapes, banana, strawberries), or blueberries.
I cut way back on Red Meat also. Vegan Burgers are really a good substitute.
No Sugar – this is hard to do because sugar is in many foods. Non Fat is not Non Sugar or sweetener.
I would be careful on Juice Drinks these contain sugar or sweeteners. WATER is better.
I ate Lentils as much as possible and for Lunch Salads or Veggie Burgers.
Some unconventional tricks. I used Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Avocado for replacement for Salad Dressing and Mayo. I actually like the taste of the Olive Oil, but I know this might be unusual.
5 Servings of Fruit Daily. Also eat Vegetables with meals. Salmon is so good unfortunately so expensive. I still tried to eat weeky.
Oat Bread is the only bread .
Force Exercise. I shovelled the snow by hand vs. the snowblower. Cut felled trees and split by hand. Used stairs for a couple of flights.
I also exercised by walking or jogging with our young dog nearly every day.
Well the good news is I lowered my cholesterol by 79 points in 3 months. Although just prior to my year end physical exam I had been eating quite poorly , eggs. holiday sweets. and fruit juices.
I hope this info helps.
Like you I plan to keep it going!!.
Pamela Joy says
Thanks for sharing! Your post is what I’m trying to do as apposed to drugs!
Thanks for sharing your experience! My cholesterol is up 50 pts.
Xmas is around the corner and I cook for a family of 3. Last year we all were doing well on a. Vegan diet but fell off the wagon around the holidays
Time to get it together, my dr wants to put me on meds. I have til late Feb.
Lawan Gilbert says
Thank you for your info I found out from my doc last week that I have very high cholesterol I hate to take the medicines and yes I worry about it until read your how to , thank you so much.
Sharon Melanson says
Hi…this info has been very helpful..do you have a list of no cholesterol foods?
Today I am going to get the natural supplements to help lower mine…I can’t take the prescription drugs…thank you for all of your help …
I have blood work done again in three months…
Thank you for all of your help, Sharon
I also have very high tryglicerides. I didn’t do well with statins or red yeast rice. My numbers are so high my dr told me to megadose on Niacine which I couldn’t tolerate either. Next I megadosed on vitamins E and couldn’t tolerate that either. I know that may sound strange but I’m just one of those people that are ultra-sensitive to anything I take and usually the smallest amounts of things work in other cases for me. Finally I had to try a non-statin med that only attacks triglycerides. It’s called Lopid or actually I’m on the generic Gemfibrozil. I took 1 600mg pill before breakfast and one before dinner. In one month my triglycerides went from 391 to 170. I did also do everything possible to eat right as well. I’m still not in the normal range but my Dr says only one more month will probably do the trick and then I can come off the meds and continue eating right and see how that goes. I am so relieved…no more palpitations or feeling like my heart is skipping a beat. That feeling scared me into taking my treatment seriously. I’m only 58 and didn’t know I was so bad off. It wasn’t until I changed Dr’s that it got caught. Just a different perspective for those of you out there that think you’re tried everything.
lab tests online says
Cholesterol is an essential compound for every cell structure, and for proper functioning of brain. A blood test is the only way to know your cholesterol levels.
Wondering what brand of CoQ 10 u took. If u don’t mind having trouble finding an all natural brand that’s affordable. Thank u,
I too am 58 and had numbness in left side of face and leg dr did blood test and ultrasound of carotid artires and found my cholesterol is high and I have 50% blockage in both arteries. So I am on meds and I have started eating very healthy and power walking. I lost 20 lbs and still working hard to see if I can reverse some of the blockage. Thanks for the info very helpful.
Mara Sweet says
Good for you, Susan! We’re rooting for you!
Emilio Gomez says
My Cholesterol went from 308 to 258 in 2 months by eating these foods:
Beans (kidney, navy, pinto, black, chickpea or butter beans)
And I slowed down on these:
butter (I used to eat a lot of butter)
I ate a vegetarian meal about twice to 3 times a week and since I eat out about twice a week I would often order a vegetarian dish would I never used to do.
Also tried to only eat when hungry–not just to eat.
Nuts have become my new snack
I will continue this diet and hope to lower my cholesterol even more. I used no supplements and no drugs
Emilio, that is fantastic!
That’s great. I’m doing the same thing. I am giving myself 6 months to get my cholesterol down too.
Eating healthy. Gave up meats (a month so far). I’m eating beans, nuts, fish, salmon and salads and fruits. I am praying it goes down.
Just out of curiosity, what are the side effects of statin drugs?
Roberta P says
Headache, dizziness, feeling sick, feeling unusually tired or physically weak, digestive system problems, muscle pain, sleep problems, low blood platelet count, fuzzy thinking, increased diabetes risk.
Clifford Smith says
I was told Red Apple Cider Vinegar helps . I take one a day in pill form and just started taking a tea spoon a day. Very nasty stuff .
I lowered my cholesterol by taking lecithin granules I took one tablespoon with each meal it also comes in a pill form my husband lowered his by simply eating beans almost everyday is dropped almost a hundred points
I am 58 cannot take stations was on Nissan for 3 yrs before I became allergic. Have had reaction to red yeast rice. I take cilo10,krill oil,drink y2k and green tea. Take a tsp of acv, and use a lot of cinnamon and lemon n honey to sweeten things. I eat a lot of beans, and because of genetic disorder I can’t exercise. Need my heartrate below 100. I feel trapped.
My doctor had me get a supplement called Heart Health you take 3 a day, I just started them.have you heard of it ?
Veronica Kola says
I have started lowerin my cholesterol because I is so high .I have started eating healthy.Will see how.it goes.
Wondering if you ever fell off the wagon?
I was doing excellent and then COVID hit and I ate bad but still continued taking cholestoff. My levels rose back to high and now I’m back to eating really clean and hoping cholestoff still works me.
I was in a similar situation after finding out my cholesterol was high – 226. I did the research on statins and didn’t like the side effects so opted for a plant based diet instead. I eliminated all the bad stuff: cheese, eggs, dairy, animal fats, sugar. (I miss cheese the most) and substituted beans, grains, fruit & vegetables,etc. Two weeks later my cholesterol was 165. No prescription drugs for me. Diet and exercise will do the trick. The only problem I find is… I can’t gain the weight back that I lost …approximately 8 pounds.
Dee Mackenzie says
I just reduced my cholesterol levels by 28 points in two months. I did not use any supplements. I changed my diet. I eat salmon two times a week, I cut out on eggs completely. I hate walnuts, so I add them to my banana bread and replace the eggs and sugar with unsweetened Apple Sause. Replaced potatoes with sweet potatoes, I cut down on red meat and cheese. I upped my green peas consumption, veggie and fruits. I am sure I will do better when the weather gets better and I can run and cycle. If I am not below 200 by April, My doctor will put on meds, I am not having that!
I have had a wake up call three months ago, when my TOTAL cholesterol reading was 388. Doctor immediately wanted to put me on statins (10 mg), since my tryglicerides and HDL were normal, I guess. I went back home, read about the issue a lot and decided to take things in my own hands.
Three months later (yesterday), I had my cholesterol reading again: TOTAL 278 without statins.
Here is what I did daily:
2400 mg of red yeast rice supplement
1 hour of brisk walk or youtube 30 min walk from home (2X a day)
Diet: eating only: salmon, oatmeal with olive oil, almonds, walnuts, vegetables, oranges, apples, berries, lentils.
Only occasionally (every three weeks): a piece of cake, pork or red meat, a slice of bread (I love bread).
I am going to continue doing what I have been for the last three months – I dont feel hungry, and I dont have cravings of any kind.
I went from 277 to 230 in 3 months doing the following:
*avoided any food that had more than 1.5 grams saturated fat per serving (butter, cheese, etc)
*took cholesteroff on red meat days
*avoided deep fried foods
*avoided foods that couldn’t get nutrition info
*limited saturated fats to 13g per day
*exercise 6 days per week (piyo)
*glass of Metamucil at night
My doc was impressed. Considering adding additional Metamucil in morning and trying red yeast to get under 200…
(I still eat eggs, but moving to whole grain pasta)
That’s really impressive! Congrats on taking charge of your health.
I was in the same boat. Doctor said thst cholesterol was high, but she told me to cut back and come back in a year. Best thing to do, ensure that you eat oatmeal at least 5 days a week, incorporated salmon, more vegetarian meals and I used Melaluca omega supplements. It did the trick. Do eat eggs, but mainly vegetarian diet, with at least two meals which consist of fish, berries, apple, oranges. It worked. But have been on this diet now for years.
That’s very impressive! And the fish oil supplements are a great idea.
What liquid do you put with oatmeal?
Niacin also is a wonderful supplement to take. 50mg-100mg a day, as well as red yeast rice with Coq10. I take both of those daily along with fish oil and my cholesterol went down 100 points in 6 months. I have genetics working against me so I understand that frustration. Don’t give up guys eating healthy and frequent exercise will also greatly improve this.
Best 3 to take is Arazo Nurtrition, Thornes Research, Puritans Pride avoid any red rice yeast that has citrinin in it can cause kidney failure. Avoid Spring Valley, Swanson, Only Natural, Sundance, Nature’s Plus, Mason Natural, Solaray, got this from worstbrands.com/red-rice-yeast-brands-to-avoid RRY has Monacolin K similar to prescription drug lovastatin. Make sure do research on RRY look up mayo clinic research on side effects
I am 56 and so thankful for your article! I was told in March my cholesterol was high Overall was 248 and LDL was 167 I was already taking Triple Omegas and Niacin and didn’t want to take stations when I came across your article. I added Cholesteroff and Redyeast rice and today I got my results Overall is 220 down 28 and LDL is 142 down 25. Only a little ways to go until it’s normal. Thank You Thank You Thank You!!
Yay! I’m so thrilled for you! I am 57 now and still following this protocol. If the day comes where I have to take statins, so be it, but so far so good!
Thank you for this helpful info. For as long as I have been aware of my cholesterol. My total has been between 220-240 with LDL’s that are elevated (110-120), very low triglycerides (40’s – 60’s, good HDL’s (100-1150, and excellent ratio (always under 2.5), so my doctors weren’t worried. I’m wondering if anyone else is in this category.
But last week I saw the PA instead of the doctor, and this time my total cholesterol was 266 with LDL’s of 144. The other numbers were good and ratio 2.5. She gave me three months to get it down or go on a statin, which I really don’t want to do. I exercise, eat healthfully etc. already, so I am anxious to tweal my diet for optimum results. You have given great motivation here!