Best sources: Foods fortified with sterols, including some kinds of margarine and orange juice, or phytosterol supplements.

How much: Aim for 2 grams. The fortified margarine Benecol contains 0.85 grams of plant sterols per tablespoon. An 8-oz. serving of Minute Maid Heartwise Orange Juice contains 1 gram of plant sterols. So you could easily get your daily does of sterols and stanols at breakfast.

Niacin

What it is: A kind of B vitamin.

How it can help: Niacin in regular amounts helps the body turn carbohydrates into energy, but at higher levels – available as over-the-counter supplements or by prescription – it is a powerful weapon against high cholesterol.

Studies show niacin therapy can lower LDL cholesterol by 10 percent to 25 percent and lower triglycerides by 20 percent to 50 percent. It also helps to increase HDL by 15 percent to 35 percent. HDL is often low in people who have RA.

Niacin is so effective, in fact, that a study published in the Nov. 26, 2009 New England Journal of Medicine concluded that the prescription niacin (Niaspan), was better at preventing plaque buildup in the carotid artery than the prescription drug ezetimibe (Zetia). And doctors frequently prescribe niacin along with statin medications to boost their effects.

Best sources: Niacin pills are usually necessary to bring down high cholesterol, although niacin is found in peanuts, fortified cereals, eggs poultry and dairy products.

How much: Start with 100 milligram and work your way up to 400 milligrams, daily, spread over two to four doses. Any dose over 500 milligrams should be approved by a physician. Prescription doses range from 500 to 2,000 milligrams daily.

Note: To help prevent an annoying but harmless side effect called “niacin flush,” a warm feeling that spreads across your body, take niacin at mealtime and/or take a regular aspirin about a half hour before the niacin pill.