Thirty days to better cholesterol

You don't need to swallow a single pill to lower your cholesterol levels -- but you might have to watch for seeds.

Apples are nature's own cure for high cholesterol, with new research showing that eating one every day can cut LDL levels by up to 40 percent in a single month.

In other words... an apple a day really might keep the doctor away, not to mention the cardiologist and even the pharmacist.

But wait, because this gets sweeter. Ever hear of someone suffering from serious muscle pain after biting into an apple? Know anyone who suffers from apple-induced kidney or liver damage?

Me neither -- but those are some of the real risks of cholesterol drugs. Apples, on the other hand, come with virtually no risks at all. And while statins can cause diabetes, people who eat apples actually have a lower risk of the disease.

Just make sure you don't take any shortcuts here and stick to real, fresh apples. In the new study, one set of patients was given the polyphenols found in apples, but in supplement form -- and while they also saw a dip in LDL levels, it was nothing like the 40 percent plunge enjoyed by the apple-eaters.

It's not the first time apples have been shown to lower cholesterol levels -- there's a whole orchard of research on this, including a recent study that found that a daily serving of dried apples cut LDL levels by 24 percent over six months.

The only caution here is that conventional apples contain more pesticides than just about anything else in the produce aisle, even after they've been washed and peeled. As a result, they've topped the Environmental Working Group's list of "Dirty Dozen" fruits and vegetables for two years running now.

I know organics cost more... but here's a case where you can see what that extra money buys you, and I say it's worth every penny.