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Heart Healthy Smoothies to Lower Cholesterol.

Heart Healthy Smoothies to Lower Cholesterol

Heart Healthy Smoothies to Lower Cholesterol

Why smoothies to lower cholesterol? High cholesterol is an ever-growing health concern.

Those with high cholesterol are at a greater risk of atherosclerosis, developing heart disease, suffering a stroke, being diagnosed with diabetes, as well as other health concerns.  

Being diagnosed with high cholesterol can be a scary and unnerving experience. The good news is that there are multiple actions you can take to help lower your cholesterol.

Today, we are talking about healthy diets – more specifically delicious and heart healthy smoothies.

Follow along (or jump to the smoothie section below). If you’re already a smoothie guru, but want more information on smoothies to lower cholesterol, then be sure to check out our Heart Healthy Smoothie Workshop!

What is Cholesterol?

Before we dive right into “smoothie talk,” we should learn more about cholesterol, what it is, and why it can be harmful to our health. 

Did you know that your body NEEDS cholesterol to function properly? It’s true! Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is found in every cell of your body. It has specific roles such as:

  • Building and repairing tissue
  • Creating bile for digestion
  • Helping to produce steroid hormones (such as estrogen and testosterone)
  • Absorption of vitamin D

Ready for another fun fact? Your body actually creates all the cholesterol that it needs.

Because of this, cholesterol is not naturally “harmful” or “bad.” It becomes harmful when we have unhealthy levels/amounts in our body (i.e. more cholesterol than our body needs). 

Cholesterol Transport: Lipoproteins

Cholesterol is transported throughout your blood via two lipoproteins: low-density lipoproteins (LDLs) and high-density lipoproteins (HDLs)

You may have heard of these terms before. For a quick refresher, LDL cholesterol is often referred to as the “bad” cholesterol.

This is because high levels of LDL cholesterol cause plaque to build up in your arteries. This can then lead to heart disease, a stroke, and a heart attack. 

HDL cholesterol is often referred to as the “good” cholesterol. HDL cholesterol helps to transport plaque AWAY from your arteries to your liver.

Your liver can then help rid your body of cholesterol through bile. This cholesterol may also lower your risk of associated health concerns

Lowering Your Cholesterol

High cholesterol levels don’t just come from your diet. Unhealthy eating does contribute to high cholesterol, but your genes, lifestyle, and exercise habits contribute as well. 

Lowering your cholesterol and reducing your risk of heart disease starts can start with you. Let’s learn more about this below.

Lifestyle

Lifestyle factors that can help in lowering your cholesterol include:

  • Smoking cessation
  • Consuming alcohol in moderation
  • Increasing physical activity (either in intensity, time, or days)

Smoking cessation can improve your HDL cholesterol. The good news? The positive effects occur within the same day that you quit. Wow! 

  • Within the first 20 minutes of smoking cessation, your blood pressure and heart rate decrease and recover.
  • Within the first 12 hours, the carbon monoxide in your blood lowers back to normal.
  • Between two weeks and three months, your lung function strengthens and improves.
  • Within a year of quitting smoking, your risk of heart disease drops by 50% (when compared to someone who still smokes).

Reducing heavy alcohol consumption to moderate or light consumption can also help to lower your cholesterol levels.

Light-moderate alcohol consumption may help to increase your HDL cholesterol (1). However, heavy alcohol consumption can increase your LDL and total cholesterol levels (2). 

This is because alcohol is broken down in your liver and then rebuilt as cholesterol. More alcohol = more cholesterol in your blood. 

Increasing your physical activity, or exercise, can help lower your cholesterol.*

With a focus on moderate-intensity exercise, your HDL cholesterol can increase. Additionally, your total and LDL cholesterol levels can lower! 

Try exercises like walking, swimming, running, cycling, dancing, your favorite sport.

The key is consistency, so aim for 30 minutes of physical activity a day and work your way to longer bouts of exercise, or more intense exercises.*

*Note: talk with your doctor before beginning an exercise routine to determine what exercises and amount of time exercising is right for you.

Diet

Plant-focused diets are helpful when lowering your cholesterol. This is because a plant-based diet is nutrient-dense and doesn’t include highly-processed foods. 

Visit our 29 Plant-Based Snacks article for delicious and easy snacks!

It’s also worth it to take a look at the Mediterranean Diet. This diet is researched and touted as one of the best diets to protect and enhance heart health. It focuses on plant-based foods and avoids saturated fats. 

Reduce Saturated Fats

Saturated fats are a kind of fat that remain solid at room temperature (think cheese and butter). Saturated fats raise your LDL cholesterol, increasing your chance of heart disease. 

Foods high in saturated fat include:

  • Butter, ghee, lard
  • Full-fat dairy products
  • Red meat (beef, pork, etc.)
  • Fried foods
  • Baked goods (cookies, cupcakes, donuts)

Reducing your saturated fat intake can help to lower your LDL and total cholesterol levels. Try incorporating these foods into your diet instead:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Beans and lentils
  • Salmon
  • Tofu
  • Low-fat Greek yogurt
  • Egg whites
  • Lean meat (skinless chicken breast, lean turkey, etc.)

Increase Fiber

We can’t forget fiber! Fiber is a carbohydrate found in plant foods. There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. For improving heart health, we are going to focus on soluble fiber. 

When you eat foods high in soluble fiber, the fiber creates a gel-like substance that binds to cholesterol and helps to remove it from your body.

A high fiber diet (especially foods high in soluble fiber), can help lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. 

But, how much do we need? The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends consuming at least 25–36 grams of fiber per day. 

Foods high in soluble fiber include:

  • Broccoli
  • Green peas
  • Apples (with skin)
  • Raspberries
  • Oats/oatmeal
  • Barley
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Ground flax seed
  • Whole chia seeds

For more information on high fiber foods, check out our free High Fiber Foods Printable List

When increasing your fiber, remember two key takeaways: increase your fiber slowly, and always stay hydrated! These will help you avoid uncomfortable side effects like bloating, gas, and cramping.

Building a Smoothie to Lower Cholesterol

The moment you’ve been waiting for… smoothie talk! Smoothies are a great way to add fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, protein, fiber, and vitamins and minerals to your diet.

Smoothies can also be enjoyed as an easy snack or even a meal. 

Essential Ingredients

There are certain ingredients that you should always try to include when creating a cholesterol-lowering smoothie. These include vegetables, fruits, protein, soluble fiber, and a liquid. 

  • Vegetables: frozen riced cauliflower, frozen or fresh spinach, zucchini, beets, etc.
  • Fruits: banana, berries, prunes, pineapple, etc.
  • Protein: nuts and nut butter, seeds, beans, protein powder, silken tofu, etc.
  • Soluble fiber: oats, flax seeds, chia seeds, etc.
  • Liquid: milk of choice (unsweetened if applicable), water, etc. 

Now that we’ve learned what a heart healthy smoothie needs, let’s get into some of our delicious recipes! 

Heart Healthy Smoothies to Lower Cholesterol 

Through our Heart Healthy Smoothie Workshop, we provide an e-book with 11 delicious heart-healthy smoothie recipes.

Today, we’re giving you a sneak peek at three of our favorite recipes. Enjoy, and don’t forget to join the workshop!

Let’s start with a tried and true recipe. Here’s our Green Protein Smoothie:

417 calories
28 gm protein
11 gm fiber
234 mg sodium
2.67 g saturated fat

Green Protein Smoothie.

Ingredients

  • 1 handful raw spinach (½–1 cup frozen)
  • ½ cup frozen riced cauliflower
  • ½ frozen banana
  • ½ frozen cup pineapple
  • 1 cup unsweetened soy milk
  • ⅔ cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp ground flax seed

Directions

  1. Combine everything in a blender and blend for 1–2 minutes. 
  2. Optional: add drops of stevia or 1 tsp maple syrup for more sweetness.

Need a pick-me-up? Try our Peppermint Mocha Delight:

428 calories
34 gm protein
16 gm fiber
158 mg sodium
1.8 gm saturated fat

Peppermint Mocha Delight.

Ingredients

  • 1 frozen banana
  • ½ cup frozen riced cauliflower
  • 1 cup unsweetened soy milk
  • 2 Tbsp ground flax seed
  • ¾ scoop protein powder
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ⅛ tsp peppermint extract
  • 1 tsp instant coffee (optional)

Directions

  1. Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.

Next, we have our cholesterol-lowering take on the classic Easy Banana Strawberry Protein Smoothie:

386 calories
23 gm protein
7.4 gm fiber
128 mg sodium
2 gm saturated fat

Easy Banana Strawberry Protein Smoothie.

Ingredients

  • 5 ounces silken tofu (half block)
  • 1 cup unsweetened soy milk
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • ½ cup frozen riced cauliflower 
  • 2 Tbsp hemp seeds

Directions

  1. Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Optional: add drops of stevia or 1 tsp maple syrup for more sweetness.

Smoothies to Lower Cholesterol: Tips & Tricks

If the consistency of your smoothie is too thick, then add more liquid. If your smoothie is too thin, then try adding frozen fruit (extra fiber) and less liquid. 

Variety is also important. You don’t have to settle for a boring smoothie or a smoothie with ingredients that you don’t like!

Not a fan of cashew butter? Try swapping for almond butter! Can’t stand the taste of strawberries? Swap for raspberries, blueberries, or blackberries. 

Smoothie portion size is also important. Be sure to pay attention to how much a recipe makes.

Some smoothie recipes are for 2 servings, so make half of the recipe, or make the full recipe and save one smoothie for tomorrow. 

You don’t need to spend a ton of money to create heart healthy smoothies to lower your cholesterol.

Check for fresh produce that’s in season before you head to the store. If it’s out of season, then opt for the frozen version. 

Frozen fruits and vegetables in smoothies are great because they affect the temperature. If you love smoothies that are chilled/colder, then frozen ingredients are going to be your new best friend. 

A few extra tips that we like to share:

  • Use low-fat or fat-free milk or yogurt instead of full-fat (remember that full-fat dairy products have saturated fat)
  • Avoid adding sugar or artificial sweeteners when you can
  • Add a scoop of protein powder to help you feel full
  • Experiment with different ingredients to find flavors that you enjoy

As always, speak with your health care team before changing your diet. 

Final Thoughts on Smoothies to Lower Cholesterol

Heart healthy smoothies to lower cholesterol are a great tool to keep in your toolbox.

Smoothies are easy to make, you can adjust the flavors/ingredients to your preferences, and they make great on-the-go snacks and meals. 

Be sure to check out our Heart Healthy Smoothie Workshop for more information and to get our e-book guide with 11 delicious heart healthy smoothie recipes!

Still unsure about cholesterol and how you can make positive and attainable changes to help get your numbers down?

Visit my online registered dietitian services for help and to learn more about lowering your cholesterol naturally.

2 thoughts on “Heart Healthy Smoothies to Lower Cholesterol”

  1. I found this article extremely informative and timely. As someone who has been dealing with High cholesterol, I appreciate the emphasis on lifestyle changes. It’s often easy to underestimate the impact of simple habits on our overall health

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