Q. I have just learned that I have high cholesterol and that I need to treat it with diet and exercise. The problem is that I already exercise and eat a very healthy diet. I doubt I can improve on it.

I have read that taking vinegar every day will lower cholesterol. Is this true? I would prefer to avoid medication.

A. There is some research to suggest that vinegar with a meal can help reduce triglycerides, LDL and total cholesterol in rats and rabbits (Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, June 22, 2011; Lipids in Health and Disease, Jan. 28, 2010). There is little research about the effect of vinegar on cholesterol levels in humans.

There are, however, many foods that may help control cholesterol including walnuts, pomegranates, fish oil, grapefruit, cinnamon, dark chocolate and psyllium. We’re sending you our Guide to Cholesterol Control and Heart Health so you can learn more about natural approaches to getting your lipids under control. The guide also describes the pros and cons of cholesterol-lowering drugs and red yeast rice.

Should you want a much more in-depth approach to preventing heart disease and controlling cholesterol naturally with a variety of foods such as:

  • Grape juice & Certo
  • Pomegranate juice
  • Dark chocolate
  • Fish oil
  • Walnuts

plus a long list of anti-inflammatory foods, we suggest our book, Best Choices From The People’s Pharmacy. it is 524 pages and was published by Rodale a few years ago. We think it is a valuable reference for anyone who cares about natural healing options.

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  1. Tanjil

    Apple Cider Vinegar is definitely useful in reducing cholesterol. it is useful in reducing blood sugar, blood pressure and weight loss. These are also useful in skin care and dandruff control.

  2. David

    This is a contentious topic! My experience (speaking, rather, of the anecdotes of others) is that some tolerate acidic substances (at least, initially acidic, prior to digestion, if the concept of vinegar turning alkaline is a truth, one which I haven’t investigated) much better than others. My personal experience tells me that, on occasion, a small amount of apple cider vinegar after a protein rich meal – especially meat – seems to aid in digestion and result in a “good” feeling.
    I definitely agree that foods such as the others mentioned are much less likely to cause problems (or contention) than vinegar. Again, it depends on the individual, however. Dark chocolate, for example, makes me feel “high”, and not in a pleasant way. I can attest to its addictive properties, which in turn result in me eating more than my brain seems to tolerate. Others feel fabulous from it.
    I’m happy to see the comments about inflammation and cholesterol. Interesting how so many of the supplements and foods which may help improve cholesterol levels or ratios inherently possess anti-inflammatory properties.

  3. OhioGramma

    I agree – we can measure many more things than we know how to properly interpret. I’ve read (no citations, sorry) that higher cholesterol may be protective as we age, particularly against baterial infections.
    Every time I read about how wonderful statins are, for example, I’m reminded of the HRT debacle. HRT was supposed to be great for women and recommended for most, if not all, postmenopausal women – until the very large double blind placebo trial informed us about just how dangerous HRT was. So dangerous, in fact, that the trial was stopped and women were warned away from a protocol that was extremely widely used. point taken

  4. DWD

    I have to agree with Condoline. Weight control and exercise are probably more important than cholesterol lowering in a better quality of life. After Christmas weight control needs to be MY main emphasis. I have been having some lower back and plantar fasciitis problems. I have found that walking slower on the treadmill and a steeper incline in multiple 10-15 minute intervals are helping both. Plus all the Christmas treats are gone. My wife and I do indulge in 4 dark chocolate Hershey kisses 4-5 days per week. That is a home remedy we both like.

  5. condoline

    There is a considerable amount of controversy about whether or not high cholesterol is a problem. Most people with heart attacks and stroke have normal cholesterol levels, many people with extremely low cholesterol die of heart attack, and many people with high cholesterol live to a ripe old age. Perhaps the “high cholesterol” notion is simply a marketing tool devised by the drug companies to sell their statins.
    I would suggest not worrying about your cholesterol; your body knows what it wants and, in fact, if it senses that it is deficient in cholesterol manufacture or needs more in a given part of the body, it gets busy and takes care of the deficit. There is a developing consensus that the problem is inflammation, which attracts cholesterol and other elements to form the plaque that is so dangerous.

  6. fbl

    Lonna, you are mistaken about vinegar being acidic in the body. Apple cider vinegar is a great remedy to alkalize the body. Google it!
    As to the calcium, one needs to balance it with magnesium and other trace minerals for it to be absorbed and used in our bones.
    A better remedy for cholesterol would be to get rid of all your grocery store oils except for Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Believe me when I tell you that it works. My hubby had high cholesterol almost 40 years ago and we have tried everything but medications. What has worked for him is to use only natural oils-organic butter, bacon drippings (organic!), coconut oil and palm oil. Also we use almond oil or walnut oil to make our mayonnaise, depending on what we want it for.
    The diet changes will not change the numbers immediately but it will take a year or two to see a huge difference-100 points for my hubby. Keep in mind you don’t want your cholesterol much under 200 or you will have nerve problems. Your nerves and brain use cholesterol as a protective coating.

  7. cpmt

    baking soda also help to neutralize the stomach acid. This is an old remedy in Europe… it is normal to take 1/2 tsp. of baking soda in a glass of water room temperature.

  8. DWD

    I tried organic apple cider vinegar for about 9 months and it did not seem to help. I did notice I get my cholesterol measured in June and December and it seems to be up in December and lower in June. I suspect it is the exercise I get in summer and the richer meals I consume between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
    Fish oil did drop my triglycerides and Niaspan raises my HDL. My HDL was over 60 for the first time in December. Without Niaspan it is closer to 30. I do not take statins. I have stopped the vinegar, but I still try to eat at least one avocado per week.
    Lonna comments we are a nation of acidic people, but we are also a nation of over eaters which causes the acid and reflux. It has been shown that reducing stomach acid with Proton Pump Inhibitors also causes problems with digestion and nutrient absorption.

  9. lynda

    Have you googled acid alkaline foods? You will see that vinegar is metabolized as alkaline. it actually helps the body not leach calcium from the bones to balance all the foods that some people eat that are on the ”acid” list! It is fun to get some test strips and test to see if your body is acid or alkaline. It depends on what you are eating.

  10. JMH

    I have never taken a med to lower cholesterol. Daily, I take fish oil and red yeast rice. My total cholesterol stays around 180. I have no side effects. I take 2 times a day after meals.

  11. OhioGramma

    I have learned from conferring with my holistic drs that just ingesting acidic foods does not make your body acidic. In fact, apple cider vinegar is low alkaline in the human body so it does help create a healthy, non-acidic environment.

  12. KB

    Stomach acid is needed for digestion. We need acid in the stomach. Try other approaches to limit indigestion/GERD, such as cutting out processed high carb foods and grains.
    Stomach acid is neutralized as it passes the stomach so that intestines are not harmed. The body does this naturally.
    Calcium it seems is not our answer. It has caused more harm than good and may not be needed in such large amounts as was suspected.
    I DO agree that we would like a program addressing the alkaline/acid controversy and would like to learn the facts.

  13. Rocket Scientist

    Just want to alert the writer that my LDL fell more than 20 points when I quit taking glucosimine-chondroitin.

  14. bgolda

    How much vinegar do I use for cholesterol lowering and what kind?

  15. Lonna B.

    It bothers me that we have a nation of Acidic people and yet that vinegar is still consumed in large amounts by many. And No One seems to address the acid problem.
    Think of it this way. The body cannot heal itself with a high acid content. I believe you need am entire program on this problem and reenforce the activties; including food, lifestyle (stress), and all other contributing factors that induce an imbalance of acid/alkiline in the body.
    Age is a factor also. Do you know that CALCIUM is an antedote to acid and if you have indigestion, taking liquid calcium several times a day will help it and prevent more deterioation of the bones? Yet, Doctors prescribe drugs that have terriable side effects.

  16. Paul43

    I would like to hear more about this as I have HBP.

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