The #1 Most Important Drinking Habit for High Cholesterol
Learning that you have high cholesterol, or that you're at risk of high cholesterol, can be a discouraging diagnosis. This is because higher levels of cholesterol can lead to other health problems if it's not dealt with, like high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, stroke, or type 2 diabetes.
Chances are if you've been given this news, your doctor has given you a long list of foods and drinks to avoid in order to lower your levels. While it's crucial to follow this advice, do you ever grow tired of hearing about all the negative things you shouldn't do? What about all the healthy, helpful things you can add to your life in order to help your high 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 one of the most important drinking habits to add to your daily routine if you have high cholesterol. Her answer? Make smoothies with plenty of fruits and veggies!
"Fruits and vegetables contain fiber, which can help your gut and heart health, and soluble fiber specifically, like that found in berries and fruits where you can eat the skin (apples, peaches, pears, prunes, etc.), can help lower total and bad (LDL) cholesterol when consumed on a regular basis," says Goodson.
Continue reading to learn more about the heart-healthy benefits of smoothies, and for more cholesterol tips, check out 10 Easy Recipes to Make to Lower Your Cholesterol.
According to the Raleigh Medical Group, fiber does three main things for your cholesterol: it holds onto cholesterol in your small intestine which prevents the cholesterol from being absorbed into your bloodstream, it reduces the number of bile salts in the intestine requiring your body to use up more cholesterol to make more, and it slows down digestion.
Not only does dietary fiber help lower your cholesterol specifically, but it also helps in maintaining a healthy heart overall. A 2019 review from Nutrients found that diets higher in fiber were associated with multiple heart benefits like a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis (which is the fat and cholesterol buildup that can occur in your arteries).
In order to enjoy these amazing heart-healthy benefits from fiber on a daily basis, Goodson suggests adding a smoothie to your drink list. Some common smoothie ingredients with the highest amounts of fiber include raspberries, apples, pears, bananas, oats, and chia seeds.
But Goodson also warns that you'll need to make sure you're eating the whole fruit, skin and all, in order to get the full-fiber benefits.
"The key here is, you can't juice the fruit! The best way to do that in a beverage is to make a fresh juice and puree your fruit, or add the whole fruit to a smoothie by blending it. This is an ideal way to add fiber to your drinking routine," she says.
For more drinking tips, here's The #1 Best Juice to Drink Every Day, Says Science.