Cholesterol-reducing shakes are formulated meal replacement drinks with ingredients that offer cardiovascular benefits. These shakes contain protein, fiber and antioxidants and are fortified with probiotics, vitamins and minerals. They are a low-calorie meal replacement, which encourages weight loss. With the exception of fiber and weight loss, none of the shake ingredients significantly and independently lowers cholesterol. However, by replacing a meal with a healthy shake, you reduce the amounts of calories, fat and cholesterol you consume, which helps lower blood cholesterol.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), high cholesterol affects approximately 20 percent of American adults. In addition, the World Health Organization (WHO) says high cholesterol contributes to more than 50 percent of the cases of coronary heart disease worldwide, to which nearly 4.5 million deaths annually are attributed 2. The high prevalence of elevated cholesterol has created a market for food items such as cholesterol-lowering shakes that may aid in lowering cholesterol.
Weight Loss and Cholesterol
Cholestoff for High Cholesterol
Replacing one meal with a shake helps contribute to weight loss (which results in lower cholesterol) by reducing caloric intake, particularly in men. In a study published in Archives of Internal Medicine as abstracted on researchgate.net, researchers enrolled 73 obese men and women in a 16-week weight reduction program. In men, a 10.7-kilogram (kg) weight loss was associated with a 5 percent increase in HDL (good) cholesterol and a 16 percent decrease in LDL (bad) cholesterol. On average, for women, a 9-kg weight loss was associated with a 5 percent decrease in LDL cholesterol only, suggesting weight loss may be an important means of decreasing cholesterol more in men than in women.
- Replacing one meal with a shake helps contribute to weight loss (which results in lower cholesterol) by reducing caloric intake, particularly in men.
- On average, for women, a 9-kg weight loss was associated with a 5 percent decrease in LDL cholesterol only, suggesting weight loss may be an important means of decreasing cholesterol more in men than in women.
Shakeology Meal Replacement
One commercial meal replacement beverage, manufactured by Team Beachbody, is designed to help lower cholesterol. One meal per day is replaced with this drink, called Shakeology. The purported benefits include weight loss, an increase in energy, promotion of healthy digestion and lower cholesterol levels. The mix ingredients, derived from whole-food sources, include many nutrients and antioxidants and are rich in fiber. According to the manufacturer, in a 90-day study, participants replaced one meal per day with Shakeology, ate a balanced diet and exercised moderately three times weekly. Total and LDL cholesterol were each reduced, on average, by 30 percent. A month supply of shake mix costs $119.95.
- One commercial meal replacement beverage, manufactured by Team Beachbody, is designed to help lower cholesterol.
Dietary Fiber and Cholesterol
Ingredients in Kirkland Shakes
While there is no official Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for fiber, the Adequate Intake (AI) level is 25 grams (g) for women 18 to 50 years old (21 g for women over 50) and 38 grams for men (30 g for men over 50). According to the American Heart Association, dietary fiber, particularly soluble fiber, helps lower cholesterol, especially LDL cholesterol, by reducing the absorption of cholesterol in the intestines. The Mayo Clinic recommends consuming 10 g or more of soluble fiber daily to decrease total and LDL cholesterol by 10 to 15 percent, on average.
- While there is no official Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for fiber, the Adequate Intake (AI) level is 25 grams (g) for women 18 to 50 years old (21 g for women over 50) and 38 grams for men (30 g for men over 50).
- The Mayo Clinic recommends consuming 10 g or more of soluble fiber daily to decrease total and LDL cholesterol by 10 to 15 percent, on average.
Shakeology Boost Powder
The Shakeology meal replacement shake mix offers 3 g of dietary fiber, making it a good food source of fiber. However, the company also sells a "fiber boost powder" that may be added to the shake mix for more significant cholesterol-lowering benefits. This supplement offers a mix of several different powdered forms of soluble fiber, including psyllium seed husk and inulin and apple pectin. Adding a full scoop of "The Fiber" to Shakeology adds 10 g of fiber for a total of 13 g of fiber. This amount meets nearly 50 percent of the AI for dietary fiber. Since most of the fiber is soluble, it may indeed help to lower total and LDL cholesterol levels.
- The Shakeology meal replacement shake mix offers 3 g of dietary fiber, making it a good food source of fiber.
Cholestoff for High Cholesterol
Ingredients in Kirkland Shakes
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Mayo Clinic Triglyceride Diet
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Dangers of Benecol
- "Health, United States, 2004;" U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CDC, National Center for Health Statistics; 2004
- World Health Organization: Global Health Risk Report: Annex A
- Ho HV, Sievenpiper JL, Zurbau A, et al. The effect of oat β-glucan on LDL-cholesterol, non-HDL-cholesterol and apoB for CVD risk reduction: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised-controlled trials. Br J Nutr. 2016;116(8):1369-1382. doi:10.1017/S000711451600341X
- Zhou Q, Wu J, Tang J, Wang JJ, Lu CH, Wang PX. Beneficial effect of higher dietary fiber intake on plasma HDL-C and TC/HDL-C ratio among Chinese rural-to-urban migrant workers. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2015;12(5):4726–4738. doi:10.3390/ijerph120504726
- Ramos SC, Fonseca FA, Kasmas SH, et al. The role of soluble fiber intake in patients under highly effective lipid-lowering therapy. Nutr J. 2011;10:80. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-10-80
- Cleveland Clinic. Heart healthy eating to help lower cholesterol levels. Reviewed February 2018.
- Third Report of the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults (PDF). July 2004, The National Institutes of Health: The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
- Brown L, Rosner B, Willett WW, Sacks FM. Cholesterol-lowering effects of dietary fiber: a meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999;69(1):30-42. doi:10.1093/ajcn/69.1.30
- Poli A, Marangoni F, Paoletti R, et al. Non-pharmacological control of plasma cholesterol levels. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2008;18(2):S1-16. doi10.1016/j.numecd.2007.10.004
- Rolfes SR, Whitney E. Understanding Nutrition, 3rd ed 2005.
Michele Turcotte is a registered, licensed dietitian, and a certified personal trainer with the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She has more than 12 years of experience in clinical and corporate settings, and has extensive experience in one-on-one diet counseling and meal planning. She has written freelance food and nutrition articles for Trouve Publishing Inc. since 2004.