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6 Steps to Healthy Cholesterol, Or Why You Should Stop Your Statins Now

6 Steps to Healthy Cholesterol, Or Why You Should Stop Your Statins Now

“How do I lower my cholesterol?” It’s a question often asked by millions of people. You know why? Because your doctor, the medical profession, the media, and the government have all told you that the secret to living a long, healthy, heart disease-free life is lowering your cholesterol.

But what if I told you that the countries where people have higher cholesterol tend to have lower rates of heart disease, that people with the highest cholesterol have the least risk of death? What if I told you that studies don’t prove any benefit to taking cholesterol medication in people who have no risk of heart disease, if their cholesterol’s just a little high, or that there’s no reason for any woman over 69 to take cholesterol medication to prevent heart disease? What if I told you the studies show that cholesterol medication works only for those people who have already had a heart attack but not for the 75% of people who’ve never had a heart attack, which is most of the people taking the drug?

I know this flies in the face of conventional wisdom, but the scientific establishment is often different from the established science. I’m interested in the established science, rather than what is said by the scientific establishment, which is often influenced by pharmaceutical companies.

Your body needs cholesterol

Cholesterol is not the enemy. Your body needs cholesterol to make your hormones, your cell membranes, and your brain cells. Without enough cholesterol, your testosterone levels would drop and your sex drive and function would plummet, your cell membranes, which are made of cholesterol couldn’t function properly, and your body would no longer be able to make CoQ10 (an important nutrient whose production in your body is blocked by cholesterol medication), which could lead to neurological problems.

So, it’s not about having lower cholesterol; it’s about having the right type of cholesterol.

Believing that a low cholesterol count is the best way to prevent heart disease, doctors often prescribe medications like statins to keep those levels low. But these drugs can introduce a whole host of problems: muscle damage, brain damage, memory issues, Parkinson’s-like symptoms, and muscle aches and pains. All of this has been caused by cholesterol medications, which don’t necessarily even work.

Here’s the shocker: You have to treat 50 people with statins to prevent one heart attack, or treat 890 people to prevent one death. It’s just not a very effective drug.

The truth about cholesterol

So, what is the way to prevent heart disease? What is the best way to deal with cholesterol, and what is the truth about cholesterol?

Well, here’s the truth: most of you are not getting the right cholesterol test. You need to get the test of the 21st century, not the test of the 20th century, which is most doctors are doing. The 21st century test measures not just your cholesterol by weight (mg/dl), let’s say 200, but it measures the number of particles that make up that number and the size of those particles.

I had a patient come to see me recently who was 220 pounds and had high cholesterol. Today, he’s 160 pounds. Before he came to see me, he was on a statin to control his cholesterol levels. Today, he is off the statin, and his cholesterol is far better now than when he was on the statin.


Because the cholesterol in his blood consisted largely of those small, dense cholesterol particles that cause heart disease. These small particles are like golf balls that bang around in your arteries and cause damage, as opposed to large, fluffy beach ball-like ones that just bounce off and don’t cause a problem. So, he went from having 1,000 small, dense cholesterol particles, which was very bad—you want less than 400—to having zero. Zero! He was almost diabetic, and we changed that by simply changing his diet and lifestyle. We didn’t give him a statin medication.

You might be surprised to learn that I did not recommend a low fat diet for this patient. In fact, I had him increase the fat in his diet! But I also advised him to decrease the amount of sugar and flour he was eating. Most people don’t realize this, but it’s not fat that causes your cholesterol to go up. It’s sugar or anything that turns to sugar like flour! Why? Because when you eat sugar, particularly fructose, which is in high fructose corn syrup, it causes the cholesterol-producing factory in your liver to turn on.

So, if you have high triglycerides, if you have a low HDL, if you have high cholesterol, the best way to fix it is to get off flour and sugar. Eat more quality fat—nuts, avocados, seeds, and coconut butter. And eat good quality protein with every meal. These are very helpful in balancing your blood sugar, balancing your insulin, shutting off the fat-production factory in your liver, and making your cholesterol normal.

6 steps to healthy cholesterol

So, how do you get the right type of cholesterol? How do you lower your triglycerides and raise the level of good—and necessary—cholesterol in your body?

Here are some very simple treatments you can use. I find them very beneficial, and often, I see people getting better cholesterol off medication than on medication.

  1. Cut out or dramatically reduce flour and sugar, because those are the things that turn on the cholesterol factory in your liver.
  2. Eat the right fats—avocados, nuts, seeds, coconut butter, olive oil, and fish oil. These are the good fats that help balance your blood sugar, balance your insulin, and correct lipid problems.
  3. Have protein for breakfast and at every meal (nuts, seeds, eggs, chicken, fish, grass-fed meats).
  4. Exercise.
  5. Manage your stress.
  6. Take supplements to help balance the whole system.
  • First, fish oil, is great; two to four grams a day will help lower cholesterol, lower triglycerides, boost the good cholesterol, and reduce inflammation.
  • Next, you can take PGX; it’s a super fiber that helps lower triglycerides and lower cholesterol in the right way. You take a scoop or five grams in a glass of water about 10 minutes before every meal. It’s a very simple but very powerful way to help you balance your insulin.
  • Red rice yeast 600 mg two twice a day can help balance cholesterol, as well.
  • And I use plant sterols like phytosterols that help to balance insulin, blood sugar, and cholesterol.

So, follow these simple steps, and if you want, you can find the best quality supplements that I’ve been able to find that I use with my patients on my website.

Now, I’d like to hear from you…

  • Are you on statin medication?
  • Do you have high cholesterol?
  • What have you tried?
  • Have you tried anything else that’s worked besides taking the medication?
  • Have you had side effects?

Tell us your story; share what you’ve learned with our community in the comments section below. Next, share this on Facebook and Twitter and with your friends and family, because I bet some of them are on statin medication and may not need to be. They should be able to find out a different way to do this. Also, sign up for the newsletter to receive one each week. And submit your questions so that, next week, I may make a House Call to you. Thank you.

Mark Hyman MD is the Medical Director at Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine, the Founder of The UltraWellness Center, and a ten-time #1 New York Times Bestselling author.