Drinks to Help Lower Cholesterol
Nearly 94 million U.S. adults aged 20 or older have cholesterol levels above 200 mg/dL. Twenty-eight million adults in the U.S. have cholesterol levels above 240 mg/dL. (1) However, a 10% decrease in blood cholesterol levels can reduce the occurrence of heart disease by as much as 30%. (2)
First, it's important to understand the difference between 'good' cholesterol and 'bad' cholesterol. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), "bad" cholesterol, is an essential molecule in the body but excessive accumulation of LDL within the arteries can cause atherosclerosis (the narrowing and stiffening of blood vessels), cardiovascular disease, and stroke.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL), commonly called "good" cholesterol, helps remove surplus cholesterol from the bloodstream and carries it to the liver for further processing.
In general, the following are considered healthy cholesterol levels:
- LDL cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol): Less than 100 mg/dL
- HDL cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol): 60 mg/dL or higher
Similar to food, some drinks can impact your cholesterol levels due to ingredients such as sugars and fats, which may elevate your cholesterol levels and reduce the level of "good" cholesterol in your body. This can raise your susceptibility to cardiovascular disease.
Drinks to Lower Cholesterol
Green tea and black tea can help improve cholesterol levels. Green tea and black tea are both prepared from the leaves of Camellia sinensis. The Camellia sinensis plant can delay the onset or progression of numerous diseases, such as cardiovascular disorders. Additionally, researchers believe that catechins, an antioxidant found in teas, are responsible for their cholesterol-reducing effects.
One study found that green tea significantly lowered LDL and total cholesterol. (3) Another study by Joseph T. Studd, an agent of the Diet and Human Performance Laboratory of ARS' Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, found between a 6 and 10 % reduction in blood lipids among those who consumed black tea for just three weeks. (4)
Tea is also good for boosting your immune system; learn more by looking at Drinks to Boost Immune System.
Cocoa Based Drinks
One study found that consuming a 450 mg drink containing cocoa twice daily for one month lowered "bad" cholesterol levels and increased "good" cholesterol levels. (5) Cocoa also contains monounsaturated fatty acids, which can also improve cholesterol levels.
However, cocoa drinks have added sugars and high saturated fats that can negatively impact your heart health. To benefit from cocoa, try using the raw form of cocoa, cocoa powder, or beverages that contain at least 70% to 90% cocoa or raw cocoa and no added sugars.
Try adding cocoa to smoothies with fruits or berries and plant-based milk to make a heart-healthy smoothie, or add it to plant-based milk to make hot cocoa.
Juice - Tomato, Cranberry, Pomegranate, Cherry, and Grape
One study in Japan found that unsalted tomato juice reduced "bad" cholesterol levels and improved both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, further reducing the risk of heart disease. (6)
Research shows that the LDL lowering abilities are due to an ingredient in tomato juice called lycopene.
Cranberry juice can be loaded with sugar and generally contains very little natural sources of juice. Still, if you find a natural cranberry juice with low sugar, it could help improve your cholesterol level due to natural antioxidants found in cranberries.
Pomegranate juice has a higher amount of antioxidants compared to other juices and teas. Not only does this antioxidant-rich drink help lower "bad" cholesterol, but it also reduces blood vessel damage and the hardening of arteries.
Cherry juice, the unsweetened versions, can lower LDL cholesterol and blood pressure to improve cardiovascular health.
Purple grape juice contains flavonoids, powerful antioxidants that prevent LDL cholesterol oxidation and raise HDL cholesterol. It also helps maintain healthy blood pressure levels.
Soy milk is high in fiber and low in saturated fat, both of which are essential to a heart-healthy diet. Various clinical trials have demonstrated that consuming 25 to 50 g/d of soy protein is safe and effectively reduces LDL cholesterol. (7) The LDL-lowering ability of soy is yet to be concluded, yet soy remains an ideal alternative to animal fats known to raise blood cholesterol levels.
Oat milk contains oat beta-glucan, a soluble fiber linked to a reduction in LDL cholesterol, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD) development. (8) It contains no saturated fats or cholesterol and has higher vitamin B levels than other types of milk.
Beta-glucan also has the unique function of activating immune cells during times when they would otherwise be dormant. Healthycell's Immune Super Boost contains a concentrated dose of beta-glucan.
While soy, oat, and other plant-based milk make for better cholesterol levels and heart health, they can come with higher sugar and carbohydrate levels than other milk alternatives, so try to aim for unsweetened versions.
Fruit and Berry Smoothies
Many fruits are rich in soluble fiber, which helps lower cholesterol. Citrus pectin is a soluble fiber in apples, grapes, citrus fruits, and strawberries and can lower cholesterol by up to 10%. (9)
Studies have also shown that increased fiber intake can reduce 'bad' lipids (LDL cholesterol and triglycerides) levels in the blood. Some examples of high-fiber berries are raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries. Berries are rich in flavonoids, mainly anthocyanins, which have been shown to improve LDL and HDL levels. (10) Healthycell's Immune Super Boost contains 500 mg of elderberry fruit extract, also a source of anthocyanins.
Add more fruit, berries, and even plant-based milk to your smoothies to improve your cholesterol level. Check out The Low Cholesterol Cookbook and Action Plan: 4 Weeks to Cut Cholesterol and Improve Heart Health to learn about heart-healthy foods and smoothies.
Drinks containing sterols and stanols
Sterols and stanols are naturally occurring substances found in plant-based foods like legumes, grains, seeds, nuts, and fruits that have a chemical structure similar to cholesterol.
Sterols and stanols block cholesterol absorption into the blood; this lowers cholesterol levels in the bloodstream, ultimately lowering the amount of plaque formed in the arteries. A 2014 study with over 9600 participants found that taking an average of 2.1 grams of plant sterols and stanols reduced "bad" cholesterol levels by 6 to 12%. (11)
Drinks to Avoid
To lower your cholesterol levels, the American Heart Association suggests adhering to a heart-healthy diet that is low in saturated and trans fats. Drinks to avoid that are high in saturated and trans fats include the following:
- Tea or Coffee with added creamers, whipped cream, or high-fat milk
- Coconut or Palm Oil drinks and smoothies
- Pressed Coconut Drinks
- High-Fat Milk products
A high-sugar diet can contribute to high cholesterol. Look at Sugar and Your Cholesterol to see how sugar affects your cholesterol levels. Sugary drinks to avoid or limit include:
- Energy Drinks
- Sweetened Fruit Juices
- Hot Chocolate
- Sports Drinks
- Chocolate Milk or Sweetened Milk Products
Some studies have indicated that low to moderate alcohol, including 30 grams a day or less, may help increase "good" HDL cholesterol levels. (12) However, the impact alcohol can have on cholesterol depends on many factors, including how much one drinks, their age and gender, and the type of alcohol one consumes. Heavy drinking can increase cholesterol levels, and the negative effects of alcohol most likely outweigh the benefits.
In addition to consuming heart-healthy beverages, lifestyle changes can also improve your cholesterol levels.
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Follow a heart-healthy diet
- Quit smoking
- Exercise regularly
- Consider dietary supplements
- Consider medications, if recommended by your health care professional
- Stay hydrated
For dietary supplements, consider Healthycell's Heart & Vascular Health supplement, which contains a blend of plant extract, vitamins, and minerals to help maintain healthy cholesterol, triglyceride, and blood pressure levels.
Look at How Long Does it Take to Lower Cholesterol to learn more about lowering cholesterol. To learn more about improving your overall heart and vascular health naturally, check out 9 Ways to Improve Heart & Cardiovascular Health Naturally.
About the Author
Dr. Giampapa is a world-renowned medical doctor, inventor, and surgeon specializing in anti-aging medicine. He recently received a nomination for the Nobel Prize for his groundbreaking stem cell research, as well as the Edison Award for the Healthycell nutritional supplement for cell health. He was also awarded the A4M Science & Technology award for his development of the BioMarker Matrix Profile – the first computer program to measure aging.