What Is the Best Drink to Lower Cholesterol? We Asked Experts to Find Out
High cholesterol is a serious matter. Having a high LDL count increases your risk of heart attack and stroke, as well as cardiovascular disease. Taking drugs to lower your cholesterol, known as statins, is one solution. However, dietary changes have also been proven to help reduce high LDL cholesterol levels. In fact, foods such as oats, avocado oil, fatty fish, and nuts have all been shown in studies to help lower your LDL number — and, there are several beverages that can also be of assistance. Here, we’ll showcase the best drink to lower your cholesterol. (Our findings may surprise you!)
Why drink your way to lower cholesterol?
These drinks aren’t meant to replace the foods you’re already eating to lower cholesterol, but rather, to give your methods a boost and help prevent boredom. But are there any specific advantages to using beverages for lowering cholesterol? Both Jonathan Clinthorne, PhD, Director of Nutrition for Simply Good Foods, and Colette Heimowitz, MS, VP Nutrition & Education for Simply Good Foods, say there are.
“While there’s no specific advantage of consuming a liquid rather than a solid for lowering cholesterol, there are many ways that beverages can help,” says Clinthorne. “Beverages are often made with ingredients that are not commonly added to food. For example, tea is not something you would normally see in food, but is a relatively easy to find beverage, and tea consumption can help lower cholesterol.”
There’s also something powerful in being able to knock back a lot of cholesterol-lowering ingredients at once, according to Heimowitz. “Beverages offer up the distinct possibility to get really dense nutrition in a small package. A great example of this would be something like a smoothie that incorporates several foods that all have been found to lower cholesterol,” she says.
What is the best drink to lower cholesterol?
Soybeans have had a rocky road in our culture. Soy rose to huge popularity for years as a vegetarian alternative protein source, then got a bit vilified for potential issues around estrogen and phytates. Through all that, it’s remained a staple for many people, and soy milk is an excellent drink for lowering cholesterol.
“Soy is one of the only plants to provide a complete protein, and it also contains multiple bioactive compounds,” Clinthorne says. “While it’s not clear whether it’s the protein or the bioactive compounds in soy that help lower cholesterol, there is quite a bit of data suggesting that soy intake does help to reduce cholesterol levels. It’s currently thought that some of the bioactive compounds in soy work on the molecular level to reduce cholesterol and protect LDL cholesterol from being damaged in our arteries, both of which can lead to better cardiovascular health.”
It seems there’s very little green tea can’t do. It’s renowned for being packed with L-theanine and antioxidants — and offering a jitters-free energy boost — but it turns out that green tea is also one of the best drinks to lower your cholesterol.
It’s those famous antioxidants that make green tea so helpful for modulating your cholesterol levels. “Green tea contains flavonoids like catechins and epigallocatechin gallate, which are both beneficial antioxidants that may help control or lower cholesterol,” Heimowitz says.
If you find the taste and texture of green tea to be a little thin for your liking, you can branch out by giving matcha a try. It’s different from other forms of green tea because it’s used in its ground form. Rather than steeping the leaves then discarding them, when you brew matcha, you consume the entirety of the plant’s leaves.
Berries are antioxidant powerhouses, and they’ve been proven to be particularly beneficial for our cardiac health. As for which berries to put in your smoothies, you’ve got options. “Strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries are rich in antioxidants called anthocyanins as well as fiber, both of which may help reduce cholesterol levels,” says Collette.
It takes just a few simple steps to make a great smoothie. If you’re feeling adventurous and want to blur the lines between beverages and solid foods, you can even make a berry smoothie bowl, to which you can add heart-healthy toppings like flax or chia seeds.
“Blending together different ingredients to a smoothie is a great way to add multiple cholesterol-lowering foods into one single beverage,” says Clinthorne. “You can blend fresh berries, a scoop of soy protein, and even add a soluble fiber supplement to your favorite smoothie.”
Because smoothies are made of whole foods, they contain fiber, which is also helpful for cholesterol — and this distinguishes them from juices, which typically have the fiber removed. “Soluble fiber binds to bile acids in the intestine and causes them to be excreted in your waste. Bile acids are made from cholesterol in the liver, so when the liver is forced to create new bile acids, it is essentially using up some of its cholesterol to do so,” Clinthorne says. “A large body of data shows that soluble fibers in food or beverages can help lower cholesterol levels.”
So next time you’re in line at the juice bar, consider opting for a fiber-packed smoothie over a juice that’s had all the fiber removed.
Keeping our gut flora in check is an important part of warding off diseases and ailments. The consumption of probiotics (which are good bacteria) and prebiotics (which is the insoluble fiber that probiotics eat) and postbiotics (their waste form) all contribute to our overall wellness.
Probiotics in liquid form are also one of the best drinks to lower your cholesterol. “Research shows that probiotics may help lower our cholesterol levels,” Clinthorne says. “Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that are found in beverages like kefir and kombucha. It’s believed that these helpful bacteria produce health-promoting molecules that are absorbed in our gut. These molecules then act on the liver to decrease cholesterol production.”
If the flavors of kombucha aren’t your favorite, you can try kefir made from cultured milk. Those have a base of dairy or non-dairy milk, and often have vanilla or berries added to them. This form of kefir is tangy too, but it’s more of a yogurt flavor, which many people are more accustomed to than the vinegar-y notes of kombucha.
Look out for undesirable ingredients
As always, when it comes to finding the best drink to lower your cholesterol, you’ll want to read labels carefully. “Both added and total sugars in beverages need to be looked at when evaluating the benefit of a beverage for optimizing cholesterol levels,” Heimowitz says. “Increased consumption of sugary drinks has been associated with undesirable changes to blood cholesterol levels.”
You may have concerns over dairy beverages, but it turns out that the fact that they contain some cholesterol isn’t terribly important. “Drinks made with milk or other animal products may contain some cholesterol,” Clinthorne says. “However, in the majority of the population, dietary cholesterol does not have a dramatic impact on blood cholesterol levels.” He notes that there is an exception to this fact, however: “If you are a part of the population with what is known as ‘familial hypercholesterolemia’ (about 1 in 250 people), you may want to avoid drinks that contain high amounts of cholesterol.”
High LDL cholesterol levels can lead to awful health outcomes. Managing your cholesterol through diet is one option that has proven successful, and there are many ingredients that can contribute to lowering your cholesterol levels. When you want a change or addition to those foods, soy milk, probiotic drinks, berry smoothies, and green tea are the best drinks to lower your cholesterol. They’re inexpensive and easy to add to your diet. If you’d like to sip your way to lower cholesterol, they’re worth having a cup of.
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