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Avocados May Help Reduce Bad LDL Cholesterol

Two AvocadosAn avocado a day may keep the doctor away. According to new research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, consuming one avocado daily as part of a heart healthy, cholesterol-lowering, moderate-fat diet may help reduce “bad” low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels among overweight and obese individuals.

Although high in fat, avocados contain healthy monounsaturated fat. Consuming monounsaturated fats can help lower levels of LDL cholesterol, which in turn reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke. No previous research has examined effect of avocado consumption on cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors.

For the present study, researchers led by senior author Penny M. Kris-Etherton, PhD, distinguished professor of nutrition at Pennsylvania State University, recruited 45 otherwise healthy participants between the ages of 21 and 70 years who were either overweight or obese.

Prior to the study, the participants consumed an “average American diet,” which consists of 34 percent of calories from fat, 16 percent from protein, and 50 percent from carbohydrates.

During the study, the participants followed one of three cholesterol-lowering diets for five weeks: a lower-fat diet without avocado, a moderate-fat diet without avocado, or a moderate-fat diet with one Hass avocado a day.

Participants in both moderate-fat diets gained 34 percent of calories from fat, 17 percent of which were from monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). Participants in the lower-fat diet received 25 percent of calories from fat, 11 percent of which were from MUFAs.

The researchers discovered that LDL levels among the participants were an average of 8.3 milligrams per deciliter lower after following the lower-fat diet without an avocado and 7.4 milligrams per deciliter lower after following the moderate-fat diet without an avocado compared to the baseline average.

Consuming the moderate-fat diet with one avocado a day lowered LDL levels to an average of 13.5 milligrams per deciliter.

The researchers additionally discovered that a number of additional blood measurements including total cholesterol, small dense LDL, triglycerides, and non-HDL (high-density lipoprotein) improved after the moderate-fat diet with one avocado a day compared with the other two diets.

In other words, eating an avocado a day may help improve cholesterol levels including lowering bad LDL cholesterol levels.

The researchers do note a limitation of the controlled feeding study. Cautions Kris-Etherton:

“This was a controlled feeding study, but that is not the real-world — so it is a proof-of-concept investigation. We need to focus on getting people to eat a heart-healthy diet that includes avocados and other nutrient-rich food sources of better fats.”

Adding:

“In the United States avocados are not a mainstream food yet, and they can be expensive, especially at certain times of the year. Also, most people do not really know how to incorporate them in their diet except for making guacamole. But guacamole is typically eaten with corn chips, which are high in calories and sodium. Avocados, however, can also be eaten with salads, vegetables, sandwiches, lean protein foods (like chicken or fish) or even whole.”

Regardless, the researchers still believe that the results of the study demonstrate that avocados have beneficial effects on cardio‐metabolic risk factors that extend beyond a heart‐healthy fatty acid profile.

Another recent study found that eating a vegetarian diet may help lower blood pressure.

References

An avocado a day may help keep bad cholesterol at bay: http://newsroom.heart.org/news/an-avocado-a-day-may-help-keep-bad-cholesterol-at-bay?preview=bb74
Avocados may help lower ‘bad’ cholesterol, study finds: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/287626.php
Effect of a moderate-fat diet with and without avocados on lipoprotein particle number, size and subclasses in overweight and obese adults: A randomized, controlled trial: http://jaha.ahajournals.org/content/4/1/e001355.abstract

Image Credits

Two Avocados: http://www.freeimages.com/photo/1152191

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