Rough up your diet.
The No. 1 foodstuff for lowering cholesterol is soluble fiber — it reduces the absorption of cholesterol in the intestine. One study showed that people who eat a high-fiber diet have about a 30 percent lower risk of heart disease than people who shun the stuff. Bonus: A fiber-rich diet will probably reduce your waistline, too, because these foods fill you up. Oatmeal, apples, barley, and sun-dried plums (also known as prunes) are all soluble superstars. See our gallery of recipes with 7 or more grams of fiber per serving.
Follow this training plan.
While any exercise is good for your health, some workouts are particularly effective at raising HDL, the good kind of cholesterol. First, the longer your aerobic workout (as measured by duration or distance), the better the results — intensity doesn’t matter as much.
A combination of aerobic and strength training can shave pounds — which can move your cholesterol numbers in the right direction too. Try a weekly program that alternates two or three days of walks, runs, or bike rides at a moderate pace with two or three days of total-body resistance training. (If you’ve been sedentary, work up slowly under the guidance of a doctor and trainer.)
Become less of a man or woman.
If you lose weight — as little as five or ten pounds — your cholesterol numbers will improve. Even better news: If you follow our first two tips, you’ll likely drop pounds automatically.