If your cholesterol levels are elevated, adding a daily green smoothie (as part of a sensible, healthy diet) may help lower your bad cholesterol while raising your good cholesterol.
While vegan diets have been shown to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease,1 you don’t have to become vegan in order to gain some of the cholesterol-lowering benefits of plant-based foods.
Eating a whole foods, mostly plant-based diet that is low in saturated fat and “trans-fat”, high in fiber, and rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and lean proteins have also been shown to provide cholesterol lowering benefits.
As for specific fruits and vegetables that may provide some cholesterol-lowering benefit, some studies have shown that strawberries may be effective at lowering cholesterol levels. 2
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A small study in Mexico published in the winter 1996 edition of The Archives of Medical Research showed that an avocado-enriched diet lowered LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels while increasing HDL cholesterol (the good kind of cholesterol) in both healthy and hypocholesterolemic patients. 3
Apples, as well as other fruits and vegetables in the diet were found to lower cholesterol levels in a large study involving 42,972 men and women from 1993 to 1997 and published in the Journal of Horticultural Science & Biotechnology. 4
My 45-Point Drop In Cholesterol
I have also experienced, first hand, the cholesterol-lowering benefits of green smoothies and a whole foods diet. High cholesterol runs in my family, and many of them are on cholesterol-lowering medications, even at a young age. Because of this, I am at risk for having high cholesterol too.
When I had my cholesterol tested at the age of 23, my total cholesterol was 191 (200 and over is considered high) and my LDL (“bad cholesterol”) was 122 mg/dl (less than 100 is considered optimal, and over 100 is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease). At the age of 23, I was already pushing the upper edge of total cholesterol, and my LDL was already “above optimal”. Given my family history, I was worried.
My most recent cholesterol blood test was in 2011 after I turned 30. The change was spectacular! My total cholesterol was 141 mg/dl, which is smack dab in the middle of the optimal range.
The amazing thing was that my LDL (bad cholesterol) was now 77mg/dl, which is well within the optimal range. From 2004 to 2011, my LDL cholesterol dropped from 122 to 77 – a 45 point drop from just diet and lifestyle changes!
While I wasn’t in dire need of medical intervention for my cholesterol numbers at 23 years old, having them at or near the highest end of optimal, or above optimal, at that age was worrisome.
We know that cholesterol increases as you get older. Knowing that I am genetically predisposed to elevated cholesterol and its risk factors to begin with, I felt the need to make changes while I was still young and healthy, before it became a medical issue.
The fact that my plant-based, whole foods diet that includes green smoothies dropped my LDL 45 points is pretty incredible, and perhaps you might benefit from a similar decrease by making some of the same diet and lifestyle changes I made to prevent cholesterol problems in my own life.
Green Smoothie Foods For Lowering Cholesterol
Green smoothies, as well as fruits and vegetables, do not contain saturated or trans fats, so they can be used to replace foods that are high in unhealthy types of fats. Adding fruits and vegetables to your diet in the form of green smoothies might be effective in helping to lower cholesterol levels.
All fruits and vegetables should provide some benefit, and the research specifically points to apples, strawberries and avocados.
5 Green Smoothie Recipes For Lowering Cholesterol
To make the recipes on this page, add the ingredients to the blender in the order listed. Then blend on high for 30-60 seconds until smooth.
1) Apple Avocado Smoothie
- 8 ounces (236 ml) unsweetened almond milk
- 1 apple, cored
- 1/4 avocado, peeled
- 2 cups baby spinach
2) Strawberry Lemonade Smoothie
- 8 ounces unsweetened almond milk
- 1 banana, peeled
- 10 medium strawberries
- 1/4 lemon, peeled and deseeded
- 2-3 large kale leaves, stems removed
- 2 tablespoon chia seeds, soaked for 5 minutes
3) Zesty-Tropical Smoothie
- 4 to 6 ounces of unsweetened almond milk
- 1/2 pear, cored
- 1 cup pineapple, cubed
- 1/4 avocado
- 3 cups fresh baby spinach
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh, grated ginger
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds, soaked for 5 minutes
4) Tropical-Ginger Smoothie
- 6 ounces of filtered water
- 1 cup pineapple, peeled
- 1 mango, peeled
- 2 cups kale, chopped or torn into pieces
- 1 teaspoon fresh, grated ginger
5) Apple Green Smoothie
- 4 to 6 ounces of filtered water
- 1 banana, peeled
- 1 large apple, cored
- 1/2 cucumber, with peel
- 1/4 avocado, peeled
- 2 cups fresh baby spinach
1 – Craig, W. (2009, March). Health effects of vegan diets. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 89(5), 1627516335. doi:10.3945/ajcn.2009.26736N.
2 – Jenkins, D., Nguyen, T., Kendall, C., Faulkner, D., Bashyam, B., Kim, I., & et al. (2008, December). The effect of strawberries in a cholesterol-lowering dietary portfolio. Metabolism, 57(12), 1636-1644. doi:10.1016/j.metabol.2008.07.018.
3 – Lopez, L., Frati, M., Hernandez, D., Cervantes, M., Hernandez, L., Juarez, C., & et al. (1996, Winter). Monounsaturated fatty acid (avocado) rich diet for mild hypercholesterolemia. Archives of Medical Research, 27(4), 519-523. PMID:8987188.
4 – Hansen, L., Vehof, H., Dragsted, O., Olsen, A., Christensen, J., Overvad, K., & et al. (2009). Fruit and vegetable intake and serum cholesterol levels: a crosssectional study in the Diet, Cancer and Health cohort. Journal of Horticultural Science & Biotechnology, Special Issue, 42-46.