You probably know that Enron CEO Ken Lay’s life was cut short by a heart attack. His doctors knew he had heart disease. In fact, he had suffered several heart attacks before the one that killed him … and he’d been taking statin drugs to lower his cholesterol for years.

Statin drugs work by blocking the body’s production of cholesterol. This lowers total cholesterol – not just “bad” LDL cholesterol but also “good” HDL cholesterol. And to avoid developing heart disease – even to reverse damage that’s already been done – HDL is key.

HDL can reduce your risk of heart disease regardless of your LDL levels. The Framingham study (the most reliable and unbiased source of data for heart disease risk) shows that if your HDL is high enough, your LDL will have no negative impact on your heart health. In fact, if your HDL is above 85, you are at no greater risk of heart disease if your total cholesterol is 350 than if it’s 150.

Here are four natural ways to increase your HDL:

  1. Exercise in intervals – at progressively higher intensity as you get used to it – for 20 minutes every other day.
  2. Eliminate trans-fats from your diet. Cut out breaded/fried foods, commercially baked crackers and cookies, and anything containing hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable or soybean oil.
  3. Increase your omega-3 fatty acids by adding fish oils, avocados, nuts, olives, and eggs to your diet.
  4. Add fresh garlic to your meals as often as possible.
[Ed. Note: For more advice on boosting your HDL and reversing heart disease, get a copy of Dr. Sears’ book, The Doctor’s Heart Cure.]

Al Sears has written six books and more than 500 articles in the fields of alternative medicine, anti-aging and nutritional supplementation. He enjoys a worldwide readership of millions spread over 123 countries and has appeared on more than 50 national radio programs, ABC News, CNN and ESPN. In The Doctor’s Heart Cure, Dr. Sears exposes the real causes of the modern epidemic of heart disease with practical how-to advice for building real heart strength and resistance to disease without drugs. It is available in nine languages and remains a bestseller three years after its publication. His 12 Secrets to Virility sheds light on the huge environmental and nutritional problems with virility in our modern world and gives men a step-by step guide for maintaining health, strength and masculinity as they age. It became a bestseller during its first month of release. His latest book Your Best Health Under the Sun addresses the myths of the sun’s dangers and gives readers an action plan for restoring this important natural resource for better mood, strength, energy and nutritional health.Dr. Sears is board certified as a Clinical Nutrition Specialist and was appointed to the international panel of experts at Health Sciences Institute, (HSI) a worldwide information service for alternative nutritional therapies. A master gardener and herbalist, Dr. Sears maintains an herbal apothecary of more than 250 organic herbs used for research, education and treatments. Dr. Sears is the founder and director of The Wellness Research Foundation, conducting original research evaluating natural alternatives to pharmaceutical therapies.Dr. Sears is a member of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine and is board certified in Anti-Aging Medicine. As a pioneer in this new field of medicine, he is an avid researcher and sought-after lecturer to thousands of doctors and health enthusiasts. He is a member of the American College of Sports Medicine and the National Youth Sports Coaches Association. As well as being a sports and fitness coach and a lifelong advocate of exercise programs, Dr. Sears is an ACE-certified fitness trainer. He maintains his integrative clinic and research center in Florida, where he has developed novel exercise and nutritional systems transforming the lives of more than 20,000 patients.