According to research, one of the keys to avoiding a heart attack is to get bad cholesterol (LDL) levels down to a maximum of 100. However, if you can get it to 80 or lower, this would be so much better not only for your heart, but for your overall wellbeing. You can lower your cholesterol by taking certain medications, but these drugs often have negative side effects, including elevated liver enzymes, muscle pain and memory loss.

Thankfully, there are medication-free alternatives to lower your cholesterol levels. It all starts with some changes in your diet and lifestyle.

1. Limit consumption of certain foods. As much as possible, those with high cholesterol or those who want to lower their levels should not eat a lot of foods that have high amounts of trans fat, saturated fat, and dietary cholesterol. These foods include butter, fatty flesh meats, shellfish, and organ meats. When buying packaged food and you see hydrogenated fat in the list of ingredients, drop it. That food has trans fat.

2. Eat the right foods. There are a ton of foods that are great for your condition, especially those that are rich in fiber. Note that there are two types of fiber: insoluble and soluble. To lower your cholesterol, you should increase your soluble fiber intake. You can get this from fruits and vegetables, oats, and barley.

3. Lose weight. Your weight has something to do with your health condition. Just like with diabetes and heart diseases, if you are obese, you can easily get sick, especially with the serious ones. Losing weight is a continuous battle though. You need to limit your fat intake, exercise regularly, eat right, and do all of this without losing your path. You should be consistent; otherwise, all your efforts could easily go down the drain.

4. Drink red wine. If you are trying to be healthy, you probably think that you should completely stay away from alcohol. While it is definitely not recommended that you make drinking a habit, sipping on red wine is an exception. Red wine that comes from red grapes known as tempranillo can provide you with cholesterol-lowering benefits. According to a study conducted at Universidad Complutense de Madrid in Spain, those who drink red wine experienced a drop in their LDL cholesterol levels of up to 12%.

You don’t have to rely on your medications to prevent the rise of your cholesterol levels. By doing the four mentioned tips above and by following your doctor’s orders, you can maintain healthy cholesterol the natural way.