fresh peppers and asparagus, eat your vegetables, potassium rich foods

Q. My doctor has prescribed several different statins over the years. He started me on pravastatin but I quit because of muscle and joint pain. I felt fine after I stopped.

Next came Lipitor, which brought my cholesterol down but also caused pain. It too stopped when I discontinued the drug. More recently he put me on simvastatin, which is causing terrible pain and stiffness in my hands. Is there any natural way to control cholesterol without statins?

A. There are lots of non-drug approaches to help with cholesterol control, including psyllium, niacin, cinnamon, fish oil, magnesium, walnuts, using olive oil instead of butter or margarine and cutting back on carbohydrates. There is research to support each of these approaches, but we think the best results might come from a combined effort.

One reader lowered her bad LDL cholesterol 44 points in five weeks without medications by using just such an approach. To find out how she did it and learn more about how natural approaches can improve heart health, you may want to read our book, Best Choices From The People’s Pharmacy . Here is her summary:

“With the help of a food scientist and the skeptical cooperation of my physician, I set about changing my diet to make a difference. Five weeks later, from changes in diet alone, my LDL cholesterol was down 44 points. I had a new way of eating, a permanent change, and I knew my cholesterol would continue to improve.

My old way of eating had not been disastrous, especially not before the loss of estrogen. After all, at the age of 60, I weighed little more than I had the day I graduated from high school at 18. But I made changes that made a difference.

Here is what I did:

  • Avoided spikes in blood sugar
  • Eliminated refined carbohydrates
  • Ate a high-protein breakfast
  • Substituted olive oil for other fats
  • Added soluble fiber to meals other than breakfast
  • Focused on fish
  • Drank green tea
  • Consumed other antioxidants
  • Stopped eating before bed

The experiment worked. My LDL cholesterol not only went down 44 points in 5 weeks, it also continued on its downward course.”

To get more details on Laura’s successful plan, check out Best Choices From The People’s Pharmacy.

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  1. Linda

    I think what you are referring to is: “The Great Cholesterol Myth” by Jonny Boden, PH.D, and Stephen Sinatra, MD
    Oh, I finally noticed someone else told you about it. Oh well, easier to send then erase.

  2. S Ford

    I thought that Coconut in any form was a no w/ high cholesterol.

  3. Ld

    I have read the book and recommend it. I will never take cholesterol lowering drugs again. Statin use gave me permanent nerve damage in both feet.

  4. Betsy M.

    My doctor prescribed Red Yeast Rice – I started taking 1200mg a day and in 3 months with no other changes, my cholesterol dropped from 289 to 222. I was amazed – but I’m still taking it! No side effects that I can see, but that may just be me. I do recommend Red Yeast Rice as a natural alternative to statins.

  5. Mignon

    To “I had a Mexican dietitian friend” … do you mean 1/2 cup beans with breakfast, lunch and dinner?

  6. CAR

    What about pantothenic acid? I have an article from a magazine from our local health food store that conducted a study on it & it brought cholesterol levels done. I refused to take the cholesterol drugs from the Dr. because I already have bone & muscle pain & could see no reason to increase it. I have done the pantothenic acid for several years now, along with non-flushing niacin, fish oil & garlic & my counts have been below 200.
    So, why would I want to take the “FDA approved” drugs when this other way works just fine & no side affects? “Money” seems to be the big factor in all of this as I see it.

  7. wndy

    Coconut oil is a great alternative to or addition to olive oil, as it’s less likely to go rancid. Delicious and nutritious, too.

  8. Linda

    The book is “The Great Cholesterol Myth” by Dr. Stephen Sinatra and Jonny Bowden.
    Google on line and you’ll find it. These gentlemen were on Dr. Oz show last week.

  9. PP

    Amen to the effect of glucosamine!

  10. r2

    Here is my story… my family has higher cholesterol that is always troubling our doc and hence us. Years ago, I had a Mexican dietitian friend who recommended 1/2 C plain beans at every meal. I did and my cholesterol went from 230 to 165. Recently my elderly mother was put on those cholesterol lowering drugs. They nearly crippled her. I remembered my friend and she has been on 1/2 C beans with every meal for 8 months. Her cholesterol has stayed at the same level as it was when she was on those crippling drugs. I try and replace rices/potatoes/pasta with beans. It seems to work. r2

  11. Rocket Scientist

    Good time to mention that for ~10% of people taking glucosamine causes a significant rise in LDL.

  12. PHH

    Exercise, and overall diet control work best

  13. Cherokee

    For years, doctors said that heart disease was caused by cholesterol and a doctor decided to do research on it and discovered with the help of Two other doctors that it is not cholesterol but Sugar that causes inflamation and that contributes to heart disease.
    I don’t know the names of the doctors but the one that did the research wrote a book on it.
    I think doctors got wind of it and are starting to do more test and try to put people on medicines if they are not on it to head off this report.
    I know my heart doctor had did a chemical stress test Two years ago and told me that the mitrol valve prolapse that I had been diagnosed with Two years before that was gone and then when I saw him this year for a yearly checkup without the test, he suddenly put in my records that I had a mitrol valve prolapse and all my doctors are part of the same network and my primary care doctor saw it in my records on their datebase and ordered lipid and cholesterol bloodwork and the heart doctor also ordered bloodwork on it.
    I have to do both bloodwork orders because the one doctor sees me in July, and I do the heart doctor’s bloodwork Two weeks before I see him.
    They always say watchout for more bloodwork and doctors know ways around duplicating it to charge medicare.
    I have a good primary care and good heart doctor but make sure your doctors are up front with you and tell you the truth.
    I had to find out from the heart doctor’s PA OR physician’s assistant that the valve back flushing was a mitrol valve prolapse and the last chemical stress test he said it was gone.

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