Discovering that you have high cholesterol or are at risk of developing high cholesterol can be upsetting. This is because elevated cholesterol levels if left untreated, can result in additional health concerns such as high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, stroke, or type 2 diabetes.
If you’ve received this news, chances are your doctor has provided you with a lengthy list of foods and beverages to avoid in order to bring your levels down. While adhering to this advice is critical, do you sometimes tire of hearing about all the terrible things you should avoid? What about all the healthy, beneficial things you can incorporate into your life to help lower your cholesterol?
We asked Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, author of The Sports Nutrition Playbook and a member of our medical expert board, what she believes is the most critical drinking habit for people with high cholesterol to incorporate into their daily routine. Her response? Blend smoothies using a variety of fruits and vegetables!
“Fruits and vegetables contain fiber, which benefits gut and heart health, and soluble fiber, which is found in berries and fruits with edible skin (apples, peaches, pears, prunes, etc. ), can help lower total and bad (LDL) cholesterol when ingested on a regular basis,” Goodson explains.
Fiber is critical for decreasing cholesterol levels for a variety of reasons.
According to the Raleigh Medical Group, fiber benefits your cholesterol in three ways: it binds to cholesterol in your small intestine, preventing it from being absorbed into your bloodstream; it decreases the number of bile salts in your intestine, requiring your body to use up more cholesterol to make more; and it slows digestion.
Not only does dietary fiber aid in the reduction of cholesterol particularly, but it also aids in the overall maintenance of a healthy heart. According to a 2019 research published in Nutrients, diets high in fiber were related to a variety of cardiac benefits, including a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis (which is the fat and cholesterol buildup that can occur in your arteries).
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To reap the incredible heart-health advantages of fiber on a regular basis, Goodson suggests adding a smoothie to your beverage repertoire. Some of the most fiber-dense smoothie ingredients include raspberries, apples, pears, bananas, oats, and chia seeds.
However, Goodson cautions that you must consume the entire fruit, skin and all, to reap the full advantages of fiber.
“The critical point here is that you cannot juice the fruit! The best way to accomplish this in a beverage is to prepare a fresh juice and puree your fruit, or to combine the fruit whole into a smoothie. This is an excellent approach to incorporate fiber into your daily drinking regimen “she asserts.