Back in the nutritional olden days, we used to believe that eating foods high in cholesterol gave us high blood cholesterol. (Remember when eggs struck fear into the hearts of folks watching their numbers?) But for many years now researchers have known that, for blood cholesterol, saturated fat and fiber matter far more than dietary cholesterol. Too much saturated fat and too little fiber are a recipe for trouble—and, on the flip side, keeping saturated fat moderate and fiber high nudges your HLD and LDL numbers toward a healthier range.
A simple snack that’s great for loading up on nutritious, cholesterol-lowering ingredients: smoothies! These blended beverages are the perfect blank canvas for all sorts of fruits, veggies, nuts, dairy products, and more. In my opinion as a nutritionist, you can’t go wrong with the recipes below when cholesterol is a concern.
No matter the season, it’ll feel like a crisp autumn day when you whip up this pear-cardamom oat smoothie. Besides taking your taste buds on a fall field trip, this sweet treat is a friend to your cholesterol, too. Half a Bartlett pear and a quarter-cup of rolled oats provide plenty of soluble fiber, while oat milk creates creaminess without adding much fat. (Check out the best oat milk brands here!)
Get our recipe for Plant-Based Pear Cardamom Oats Smoothie.
After this irresistibly swirled raspberry-peach smoothie goes down the hatch, its ingredients get to work protecting your heart. According to a 2016 study that involved over 1,200 subjects, increased berry intake led to lower LDL cholesterol (aka the bad kind). The high amounts of fiber and antioxidants in berries are probably responsible for these excellent effects.
In addition to its gorgeous ratio of red raspberry swirl to creamy banana-peach yogurt, this smoothie’s got the perfect balance of saturated fat and fiber. It packs 7 grams of fiber without a single gram of sat fat.
Get our recipe for Easy Raspberry Peach Swirled Smoothie.
You may have tried dragon fruit in a blended beverage from your local smoothie joint—or even in Starbucks’ fancy refreshers—but how about trying it at home? If you’re new to this fruit (also called pitaya), tossing it into a smoothie lets you reap its benefits without overthinking its preparation.
Among other ingredients, this tangy recipe combines the tropical fire-breather with fresh and frozen pineapple. Good news here: a 2021 animal study showed that pineapple lowered serum cholesterol and overall inflammation in rats.
Plus, the raw pepitas in this recipe are another good choice for your ticker; they’re recommended by the American Heart Association as heart-healthy seeds.
Get our recipe for Tropical Dragon Fruit Smoothie Bowl.
On a cholesterol-lowering diet, a hefty slice of carrot cake probably isn’t on the menu every day. But this carrot cake smoothie could be! It’s got a secret healthy ingredient you’ll never know is there: chickpeas. Chickpeas are part of the food group known as pulses, which have been linked to significantly reducing LDL cholesterol.
In this healthy, dessert-like treat, you’ll also get veggies from carrots, fruits from banana, and dairy from lower-fat Neufchâtel cheese. It’s practically a whole meal in a glass.
Get our recipe for Plant-Based Carrot Cake Smoothie.
Not all recipes touted as Paleo are good for your cholesterol. (Lookin’ at you, red meat.) But this Paleo-friendly green machine is a top-notch choice for lowering that all-important LDL. Rather than load you up on saturated fats, this smoothie provides better-for-you monounsaturated fats from avocado and omega-3s from flaxseed. Omega-3 fatty acids not only reduce bad cholesterol—they can also slightly increase good HDL cholesterol.
Get our recipe for Creamy Paleo Green Smoothie.
Beets in a smoothie? You beet—er, bet! Save leftover beets or snag a pre-cooked one like Love Beets to pop into this recipe. They’ll lend their pretty pink color and their cholesterol-lowering effects. Then, to amp up the fiber content even more, add a whole peeled blood orange to the blender. Finish things off with orange juice, fresh ginger, and a handful of ice for a sweet and tangy afternoon pick-me-up.
Get our recipe for Immune-Boosting Blood Orange Beet Smoothie.