Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is used by the body to make cells and hormones. There are two kinds of cholesterols, high-density lipoprotein(HDL) and low-density lipoprotein(LDL). When cholesterol levels are unbalanced it increases the risk of serious health issues like stroke or heart attacks.
There are some drinks that can help lower or control cholesterol to safe levels. These include:-
- Green Tea—Green tea has catechins and other antioxidant compounds that help lower “bad” LDL cholesterol levels. In a research conducted on rats they were given water infused with catechins and epigallocatechin gallate another beneficial antioxidant in green tea. It was noticed after 56 days that cholesterol and bad LDL levels had reduced by around 14.4% and 30.4% in the two groups of rats on high-cholesterol diets.
Black tea can also have a positive impact on reducing cholesterol but to a lesser extent than it’s green variant. It is mainly because there are different amounts of catechins in the teas which means that the body absorbs liquid differently. Caffeine can also help raise the HDL levels.
2.Soy milk—Soy is low in saturated fat. By replacing cream or high milk products with soy milk or creamers can also help reduce and manage cholesterol levels.
The Food and Drug Administration(FDA) recommends the consumption of 25 grams per day of soy protein as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol to help reduce the risk of heart disease. Some others recommend consuming 2-3 servings of soy-based foods or drinks daily with a single serving representing 250 ml of soy milk.
3. Oat drinks-–Oats contain beta-glucans, which make a gel-like substance in the gut and interact with bile salts reducing cholesterol absorption. In a review done in 2018 it was found that oat drinks like oat milk provide a better and consistent reduction in cholesterol than semi-solid or solid oat products. A consumption of 3 gms per day of beta-glucans which can lead to a 7% reduction in LDL. One cup of oat milk can give up to 1.3 gms of beta-glucans.
One should make sure to check for labels containing beta-glucans.
4.Tomato juice-–Tomatoes are rich in a compound called lycopene which may improve lipid levels and reduce ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol. It has also been seen that processing tomatoes into juice increases their lycopene content. Tomato juice is also rich in cholesterol-reducing fiber and niacin. According to a 2015 study 25 women who drank 280 ml of tomato juice daily for 2 months experienced a reduction in blood cholesterol levels.
5.Berry smoothies—Many berries are rich in antioxidants and fibers, both of which may help to reduce cholesterol levels. Berries have a powerful antioxidant agent in berries which can help improve cholesterol levels. Berries are also low in calories and fat. Some of the healthy berries are:-
- Strawberries 2. Blueberries 3. Blackberries 4. Raspberries
6. Drinks having sterols and stanols—Sterols and stanols are plant chemicals similar in shape and size to cholesterol that block the absorption of cholesterol. Vegetables and nuts have low levels of sterols and stanols that cannot lower cholesterol. Some companies are adding these chemicals to foods and drinks including fortified yoghurt drinks, milk and fruit juices. According to the FDA people should try to consume 1.3 gm or more of sterols and 3.4 gms of stanols per day. One should try to consume the sterols and stenols with a meal.
7.Cocoa drinks—Cocoa is the main ingredient in dark chocolate. It contains antioxidants called flavonols which improve cholesterol levels. According to a 2015 study consuming a 450 mg drink having cocoa flavonols twice daily for one month lowered ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol levels while increasing ‘good’ HDL cholesterol levels.
Cocoa contains high levels of monounsaturated fatty acids which can also help to improve cholesterol levels. Cocoa has high level of monounsaturated fatty acids. But drinks containing processed chocolate have high levels of saturated fats.
8. Plant milk smoothies— Many types of plant-based milk smoothies contain ingredients that may help lower cholesterol levels. A person can make a suitable smoothie base using soy or oat milk.
9.Alcohol—It has been found that low to moderate alcohol consumption can be very beneficial in terms of heart health than not drinking at all. The consumption of alcohol in moderate levels seems to increase ‘good’ HDL cholesterol levels. It means it is good for females to drink up to 1 alcoholic drink per day and up to 2 drinks for males.
DRINKS TO AVOID
Some of the drinks to avoid which have high saturated fats, which can be harmful and which will increase cholesterol levels are:-
1.Coffees or teas with added cream, whipped cream, high fat milk or creamer.
2.Drinks or smoothies containing coconut or palm oils.
3.Pressed coconut drinks
4.Ice cream-based drinks
5.High fat milk products
Drinking more than 12 ounces of sugary drinks per day may also reduce HDL levels and increase triglyceride levels or levels of fats in the bloodstream. Some examples of sugary drinks include:-
Soda or pop
Sweetened coffees or teas
Chocolate or sweetened milk products
More ways to lower cholesterol
Several behavioral changes or habits can help lower cholesterol levels like,
1.Keeping a balance when eating foods high in saturated fats such as:-
2.Balancing out when eating foods high in sugars:-
3.Doing at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-to-intense exercise every week.
4.Eating a mix of healthy foods including fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and nuts in moderation, pulses, vegetable oils, fat-free dairy products.
5.Increasing the intake of fibers.
6.Trying to quit smoking.
7.Managing and treating type 2 diabetes.
8.Maintaining a moderate body weight.
Some prescribed medications like statins can also help lower cholesterol levels.
High levels of circulating cholesterol can lead to complicated health risks.
LDL is considered a bad type of cholesterol because it can accumulate on the inner lining of blood vessels and form plaque. And with time plaque can narrow blood vessels reducing the amount of blood that vessels can carry. Plaque buildup is especially dangerous when it forms in arteries which supply blood to vital organs like brain or heart. The narrowed arteries also increase the risk of a blood clot or other substances getting stuck in them. This can increase the risk of a heart attack or a stroke.
HDL is considered a good type of cholesterol. It absorbs the circulating, unwanted cholesterol returning it to the liver for excretion. For a healthy body it is required to limit or reduce the level of LDL and increase that of HDL. The foods rich in unsaturated fat can help the body to absorb HDL and those rich in saturated and trans fat increase LDL levels in blood. The adults over 20 years should get a cholesterol check-up done every 5 years.
The optimal levels of cholesterol to be present in a healthy human body are—
1.Less than 200 mgs per deciliter(mg/dl) for total cholesterol.
2.Less than 100 mgs per deciliter(mg/dl) for LDL cholesterol.
3. More than 40 mgs per deciliter(mg/dl) for HDL cholesterol.