Eating An Avocado A Day Can Lower Your Cholesterol, Study Finds
Despite new buzzfoods taking the industry by storm, avocados still seem to reign as healthy food item supreme, but emerging research shows there's way more to this nutrient-dense fruit (yes, it's a fruit) than looking aesthetically pleasing on toast or helping you fit in some omega-3s.
Specifically, this study focused on LDL particles that become oxidized in the body. Researchers state that this oxidation process is bad for us, just as how the exposure to oxygen can turn items like apples (or avocados!) brown.
"A lot of research points to oxidation being the basis for conditions like cancer and heart disease," lead author of the study Penny Kris-Etherton, R.D., Ph.D., said. "We know that when LDL particles become oxidized, that starts a chain reaction that can promote atherosclerosis, which is the build-up of plaque in the artery wall. Oxidation is not good, so if you can help protect the body through the foods that you eat, that could be very beneficial."
To determine whether avocados could help lower these LDL particles, researchers studied a group of 45 overweight adults randomized into three different eating plans: a low-fat diet, a moderate-fat diet, and a moderate-fat diet with an avocado a day. The moderate-fat diet without avocados included enough healthy fats to match the amount of monounsaturated fatty acids in avocados.
Despite having the exact same fat content, the participants who ate one avocado a day had significantly lower levels of oxidized LDL after just five weeks. Apparently, it's not the fat content that can effectively reduce LDL—it's the avocados themselves.
This group also had higher levels of an antioxidant called lutein, which has been previously shown to enhance and protect eye health. Kris-Etherton suspects that this ingredient may also be what's protecting the LDL from becoming oxidized.
"Avocados are really high in healthy fats, carotenoids—which are important for eye health—and other nutrients. They are such a nutrient-dense package, and I think we're just beginning to learn about how they can improve health," she says.
How do you eat an avocado a day?
This research is so exciting for those of us in the avocado fan club who can lower LDL levels in such an easy, yummy way. And if you're someone who finds this creamy fruit unappealing, you might want to try adding avocados to your smoothies or desserts in a way that masks the avocado's taste and texture.
You can get your avocado a day in a variety of ways. Rather than opening them up and eating them by the spoonful (although, I've admittedly done this and would never judge), you don't have to eat the whole avocado at once. Just making sure you're getting that one whole serving in the day is fine with Kris-Etherton.
"People should consider adding avocados to their diet in a healthy way, like on whole-wheat toast or as a veggie dip," she adds.
So feel free to get creative with your cholesterol-lowering remedy. It's a good thing we have an endless inventory of avocado recipes, right?
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