More than 90 million American adults have total cholesterol levels above 200. High cholesterol increases your risk for heart disease and stroke.
So if you’re among that 90-plus million Americans, lowering your cholesterol numbers should be a priority—staying active, reducing dietary saturated fat intake, quitting smoking, and taking prescribed cholesterol-lowering medication can all help.
Certain beverages may also provide a cholesterol-lowering boost.
In this article, I’ll tell you about some of them, including the science behind whether they work or not.
I’ll also explain a little more about your cholesterol levels, and tell you when it’s time to talk to a doctor about your risks.
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance produced by your liver and found in your blood.
You actually need some cholesterol—it helps you digest fatty foods, and is used to produce certain hormones.
Cholesterol moves through your blood by attaching to proteins, becoming what is called a lipoprotein.
There are two types: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL).
LDL is considered “bad” cholesterol, whereas HDL cholesterol is considered “good.”
When you have high amounts of LDL cholesterol in your blood, it can build up.
These buildups, called plaque, clog the arteries, making it difficult for blood to move through smoothly and can also burst and cause blood clots.
High cholesterol levels can put you at risk for cardiovascular diseases, strokes, diabetes, and heart attacks.
High cholesterol can be the result of genetics, poor diet, an unhealthy lifestyle, or other factors.
There are a number of ways to manage cholesterol: There are medications designed to help balance your “good” and “bad” cholesterol.
Healthcare professionals may also recommend a diet and exercise plan to balance your numbers.
Drinks to Help Lower Cholesterol
What you eat affects your cholesterol. When you eat too many foods that are high in saturated and trans fats, your LDL cholesterol levels can rise.
If you eat plenty of fiber—from foods like beans and vegetables—your body can better manage your LDL levels, and your HDL levels can rise.
Incorporating certain beverages into your diet may also help you manage your cholesterol levels.
Drinking green tea can help reduce both your total cholesterol and LDL levels.
Initial studies suggest that consuming high amounts of catechins, the active polyphenols in green tea, may help reduce cholesterol and your risk of heart disease.
In a research review, scientists found that cholesterol levels were helped whether study participants drank green tea—from 350 mL to 900 mL per day, depending on the study—or took catechins in pill form.
So if green tea upsets your stomach, the pills can help, too. Talk to your doctor before taking any new supplements.
Oats contain high levels of soluble fiber, which may help lower your cholesterol.
Some studies even indicate a 5% to 7% reduction in total and LDL cholesterol levels with oat consumption.
Oat drinks, including oat milk, can be used in place of dairy products, which tend to be high in fat and should be consumed in moderation.
Oat drinks (also called “oat milk”) may have added sugars, and they have less fiber than whole oats.
It is always a good idea to look at the oat drink labels and check for added preservatives and sugar.
They can replace dairy in smoothies, cereal, and coffee.
Oat drinks have 90 to 120 calories per cup, so it’s important to check the serving size.
The main ingredient on the label should be “organic oats” or “oats.”
Fiber is part of a healthy diet.
Soluble fiber helps to prevent the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream which works to lower “bad” LDL cholesterol.
Try adding berries to increase the fibrous contents of your smoothie, such as raspberries, blueberries, or strawberries, which are all high in fiber content.
Blueberries have been found to be helpful in lowering LDL levels.
Soy foods may be helpful in preventing and treating certain chronic diseases like heart disease, as well as breast and prostate cancer.
That’s why the American Heart Association has advocated for the inclusion of plant-based proteins like tofu as part of a heart-healthy diet.
Studies indicate that eating soy can help lower LDL levels by 4-5%.
Try replacing the milk in your coffee, smoothies, or cereal with soy milk.
Check the ingredients on the label, since many Western soy milk products have non-soy ingredients like sugar and preservatives.
While too much alcohol can be detrimental to your health, some studies have found that moderate alcohol consumption may be protective against hypertension and may have protective cardiovascular health benefits.
However, most of these studies looked at blood test results, not the true impact on health, and there are negative health consequences to even minimal alcohol use that need to be weighed against the potential benefits.
In general, doctors do not recommend any alcohol use as a health-promoting measure.
Be sure to consume in moderation, excessive consumption can actually increase your levels of bad cholesterol.
Research shows that regular consumption of cherry juice in adults helps reduce LDL cholesterol levels.
Cherry juice is high in anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants.
These may be the properties that contribute to LDL cholesterol reduction.
More research needs to be done to confirm a definite connection between ginger and lower cholesterol.
But preliminary research is promising, showing that ginger may reduce triglycerides, total cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol.
Other drinks to try
A balanced diet is key to healthy cholesterol. In addition to the ones we’ve listed above, fruit juices like berry juices, orange juice, tomato juice, and pomegranate juice may also lower cholesterol.
Other types of tea, like black tea and white tea, may also support healthy cholesterol, improve blood vessel function, and work to lower LDL levels, though perhaps to a lesser extent than with green tea.
When to See a Doctor
High cholesterol has no symptoms. Regular blood tests are the only way to detect if you may have elevated cholesterol levels. If you have additional risk factors, your doctor may want to run cholesterol tests more frequently.
If you begin consuming the above drinks as part of a lifestyle change and experience trouble breathing, rash, or nausea, stop using them immediately and seek medical attention. These could be signs of an allergic reaction.
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Frequently Asked Questions
K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.
K Health has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.
Green tea intake lowers fasting serum total and LDL cholesterol in adults: a meta-analysis of 14 randomized controlled trials. (2011).
Cholesterol-lowering effects of oat β-glucan. (2011).
Blueberry intervention improves metabolic syndrome risk factors: systematic review and meta-analysis. (2021).
Soy and Health Update: Evaluation of the Clinical and Epidemiologic Literature. (2016).
The Effect of Alcohol on Cardiovascular Risk Factors: Is There New Information? (2020).
Effects of Tart Cherry Juice on Biomarkers of Inflammation and Oxidative Stress in Older Adults. (2019).
Investigation of the effect of ginger on the lipid levels. A double blind controlled clinical trial. (2008).