While medication can be effective in lowering cholesterol levels, which among Indians become a trigger for heart disease, many individuals prefer to explore natural methods to supplement them. In recent years, plant-based drinks have gained popularity for their potential to lower or control cholesterol levels. These include green tea, soy milk, tomato juice and berry smoothies.
Green tea has long been celebrated for its numerous health benefits, including its potential to lower cholesterol levels. The key component responsible for this effect is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a type of antioxidant known for its heart-protective properties. Research suggests that regular consumption of green tea can lower LDL cholesterol levels and improve the ratio of LDL to HDL cholesterol. A study in 2015 showed how rats drinking water infused with catechins and epigallocatechin gallate, all antioxidants in green tea, reduced cholesterol by around 14.4 and 30.4 per cent respectively.
How to consume: To maximise the benefits, drink two to three cups of green tea daily. It’s recommended to avoid adding excessive sugar or high-fat dairy products to your tea, as these can negate its positive effects.
Soy Milk: A Dairy Alternative
Soy milk is a popular dairy milk substitute that contains plant compounds called phytosterols. These phytosterols are structurally similar to cholesterol and can reduce the absorption of dietary cholesterol in the intestines. Regular consumption of soy milk has been associated with a reduction in LDL cholesterol levels.
How to consume: Enjoy a glass of unsweetened soy milk as a dairy alternative in your cereal or smoothies. Aim for one to two servings per day for optimal benefits.
Tomato Juice: The Lycopene Connection
Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, a potent antioxidant that may help reduce LDL cholesterol levels. It is more bioavailable when tomatoes are cooked, making tomato juice an excellent source of this heart-healthy compound. Studies found them to be more effective in women.
How to consume: Consider starting your day with a glass of tomato juice or incorporating it into your meals. Aim for 6 to 8 ounces (about 175-240 ml) of tomato juice per day.
Berry Smoothies: A Nutrient-Packed Delight
Berries, such as blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries, are packed with antioxidants, fibre and phytosterols, making them excellent choices for lowering cholesterol. When blended into smoothies, they provide a delicious and convenient way to harness their cholesterol-lowering potential.
How to consume: Create a daily habit of consuming a berry smoothie with added ingredients like flaxseed or chia seeds for extra fibre. Consider replacing one meal or snack with a berry smoothie for enhanced cholesterol control.
Plant-Based Drinks: A Holistic Approach
Plant-based drinks, like almond milk, oat milk and walnut milk, are often fortified with heart-healthy nutrients such as plant sterols and Omega-3 fatty acids. These drinks can be integrated into a heart-healthy diet to help lower cholesterol levels over time.
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How to consume: Choose unsweetened, fortified plant-based drinks to avoid excess sugar. Use them in place of regular milk in your coffee, cereals or baking. Incorporate one to two servings per day as part of a balanced diet.
Plant-based drinks offer a delicious and natural way to help lower or control cholesterol levels. However, it’s essential to remember that individual responses may vary, and these drinks should complement a heart-healthy diet and lifestyle.
Before making significant dietary changes, consult a healthcare professional, especially if you have pre-existing medical conditions or are taking medication. Besides, you need to combine these plant-based drinks with other cholesterol-lowering strategies, such as regular exercise, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.