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10 Ways to Lower Your Cholesterol

No doubt you’ve heard it a thousand times by now: Heart disease is the number one killer among both men and women.  Research suggests that by eating the right foods, getting enough exercise, and generally taking good care of yourself, you could slash your risk of dying from heart disease by an incredible 80 percent. Find out how these 10 tips could save your life.

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Find out how to keep your cholesterol under control.

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1. Drink two glasses of orange juice every morning

But make it Minute Maid’s Heart Wise or another brand spiked with the same kind of cholesterol-lowering plant sterols found in margarine spreads like Benecol. When researchers at the University of California-Davis asked 72 men and women with mildly high cholesterol to drink either Heart Wise or regular OJ, those drinking the sterol-fortified juice found their total cholesterol levels dropped 7 percent (an average of 13 points) and levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol dropped 13 percent (an average of 8 points). Those who drank regular juice had no changes. But maybe they weren’t drinking enough: Another study, this one from the University of Western Ontario, found that three glasses a day of orange juice-any orange juice-for four weeks raised HDL levels 21 percent and improved the ratio of good to bad cholesterol by 16 percent.

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2. Eat six or more small meals a day

A large study of British adults found that people who ate six or more times a day had significantly lower cholesterol than those who ate twice a day, even though the “grazers” got more calories and fat! In fact, the differences in cholesterol between the two groups were large enough to reduce the grazers’ risk of coronary heart disease 10-20 percent. Just make sure those six meals are truly small.

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3. Sip a glass of wine every evening with dinner

Studies find a daily glass of wine or beer a day can boost levels of HDL cholesterol. Make the wine a red one-red wines are 3-10 times higher in plant compounds called saponins believed to be responsible for much of wine’s beneficial effects on cholesterol.

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4. Fix all your sandwiches on whole grain bread

Simply cutting back on simple carbs like white bread and eating more complex carbs, like whole grain bread and brown rice, can increase HDL levels slightly and significantly lower triglycerides, another type of blood fat that contributes to heart disease.

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5. Use paper filters when brewing your coffee and skip the espresso

Two substances found in brewed coffee, kahweol and cafestol, increase cholesterol levels. But paper filters trap these compounds, so they’re only a problem if you drink espresso or use coffeemakers without filters.

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6. Use olive oil in your homemade salad dressing tonight

A Baylor College of Medicine study found that diets rich in the kind of monounsaturated fat found in olive oil reduced LDL cholesterol in people with diabetes or metabolic syndrome-a cluster of risk factors including low HDL, high insulin levels, and overweight-just as well as following a low-fat diet.

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7. Add half a tablespoon of cinnamon to your coffee beans (ground or whole) before starting the pot

A Pakistani study found that 6 grams cinnamon a day (about 1/2 tablespoon) reduced LDL cholesterol in people with type 2 diabetes nearly 30 percent and cut total cholesterol 26 percent.

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8. Have oatmeal for breakfast every morning

There’s a reason oat manufacturers are allowed to boast about the grain’s cholesterol-lowering benefits: Plenty of research has proved them. Rich in a soluble fiber called beta glucan, oatmeal can drop your LDL 12-24 percent if you eat 1-1/2 cups regularly. Choose quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats over instant.

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9. Eat a grapefruit every other day

Grapefruits are particularly high in pectin, a soluble fiber that can help reduce cholesterol levels. Grapefruits interfere with the absorption of several medications, however, so check with your doctor first. Other good sources of pectin include apples and berries.

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10. Use honey in your tea instead of sugar, and honey instead of jam on PB & J sandwiches

A study from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates found total and LDL cholesterol levels dropped in healthy people after they drank a solution containing honey, but not after they drank solutions containing glucose or artificial honey. After 15 days of the honey drink, participants’ HDL levels rose and homocysteine levels dropped. Homocysteine is an amino acid linked to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke and peripheral vascular disease (reduced blood flow to the hands and feet).