You can significantly lower your cholesterol just by diet. Here are some tips:
1. Eat several small meals a day. Think 3 meals, and then 3 snacks, if this helps - and then make the meals smaller than before. This keeps your blood sugar steady and prevents insulin spikes that up the production of cholesterol.
2. Eat a handful of walnuts or almonds each day. (Just doing this will lower your cholesterol by approximately 10%.) Better yet, do both. You can always add them to salads, top casseroles with them, put them in your oatmeal (I love this), or just have them as a snack. Keep a jar or small can of them on the table, within easy reach, and they'll get eaten.
3. Spice up your food with cayenne powder. Cayenne powder contains capsacin, which lowers cholesterol. Not that hard, if you're eating lots of different bean recipes (uses up lots of garlic this way, too).
4. Add garlic to your recipes. It lowers cholesterol and blood pressure.
5. Eat lots of beans. 1.5 cups of beans a day in your diet can lower your cholesterol by 19%. There's lots of ways to cook beans (soups, beancakes, stews, salads, beans & rice dishes, dips, etc.). There's lots of beans to choose from, too. Beancakes are great -- they can be made into sandwiches, eaten as a meal -- mush the beans up, put in lots of spices as well as garlic and onion, maybe some shredded carrot, and bake or fry these babies. Roll them in cornmeal or bread crumbs for a crispy crust.
6. Eat carrots and apples. They both have pectin, which lowers cholesterol.
7. Eat lots of fiber -- raw veggies and fruits are best. If you're eating the beans, the apples, the carrots, and the oatmeal, you're probably okay here.
8. Add cinnamon to your diet. 1-2 T/day. It helps lower cholesterol. Add it to your coffee, put it in your oatmeal, bake apples or yams with cinnamon, some make cinnamon tea but I'm not into the flavor that much. Pills are also available, Natural Valley has a good product - one month's supply for under 10 bucks.
9. Eat lots of oatmeal -- but make sure you use a good quality oatmeal in order to maximize the benefit. Say, 1.5 cups a day. (My favorite is Silver Palate's Thick and Rough Oatmeal.)
10. Stop eating margarine and other Saturated Fats. Check the Nutritional Labels of everything you buy and just don't buy products that are high in saturated fat or that have any trans-fats in them.
American Heart Association