Health

An Avocado a Day May Help Lower Bad Cholesterol

A new study from Penn State University demonstrated that consuming at least one avocado each day reduces the type of cholesterol that is known to lead to the accumulation of plaque in the arteries.

Dec. 6, 2019
By Mary West

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The rep­u­ta­tion of avo­ca­dos for being a super­food just acquired more luster. A ran­dom­ized con­trolled study found that includ­ing the food in the daily diet reduced LDL, bad cho­les­terol, in over­weight and obese adults. Specifically, avo­ca­dos decreased small, dense LDL par­ti­cles, as well as oxi­dized LDL.

“We were able to show that when people incor­po­rated one avo­cado a day into their diet, they had fewer small, dense LDL par­ti­cles than before the diet,” Penny Kris-Etherton, a pro­fes­sor of nutri­tion at Penn State, said in a press release. She noted that these par­ti­cles are espe­cially impli­cated in the accu­mu­la­tion of plaque in the arter­ies.

People should con­sider adding avo­ca­dos to their diet in a healthy way, like on whole-wheat toast or as a veggie dip.- Penny Kris-Etherton, pro­fes­sor of nutri­tion at Penn State

“Consequently, people should con­sider adding avo­ca­dos to their diet in a healthy way, like on whole-wheat toast or as a veggie dip,” she said.

The reduc­tion in oxi­dized LDL par­ti­cles is sig­nif­i­cant. Studies indi­cate that oxi­da­tion is the basis for heart dis­ease and cancer. Therefore, if cer­tain foods can pre­vent this harm­ful action, the results could be very ben­e­fi­cial, Kris-Etherton said.

See more: Olive Oil Health Benefits

Since ear­lier stud­ies have shown that avo­ca­dos can help lower LDL, the authors of the new study decided to inves­ti­gate the food’s effect on oxi­dized LDL par­ti­cles. The group of par­tic­i­pants con­sisted of 45 over­weight or obese adults. During the first two weeks of the exper­i­ment, all par­tic­i­pants were required to follow the typ­i­cal American diet to put them on a sim­i­lar foot­ing.

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In the next phase, each par­tic­i­pant fol­lowed one of three diets: low-fat, mod­er­ate-fat and mod­er­ate-fat with an added avo­cado per day. The mod­er­ate-fat diet that included no avo­ca­dos was sup­ple­mented with monoun­sat­u­rated fatty acids to match the quan­tity of healthy fat con­tained in the avo­ca­dos.

Testing after five weeks showed the adults on the diet with avo­ca­dos had sig­nif­i­cantly less oxi­dized LDL than those on the other two diets. They also had higher levels of the antiox­i­dant lutein, along with lower amounts of small, dense LDL par­ti­cles.

According to Kris-Etherton, LDL par­ti­cles vary in size. While all of them are harm­ful, the small par­ti­cles are the most dam­ag­ing.

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“It is not sur­pris­ing that incor­po­rat­ing avo­ca­dos in a mod­er­ate-fat diet helped decrease oxi­dized LDL cho­les­terol levels in the study’s par­tic­i­pants,” func­tional med­i­cine prac­ti­tioner Kelly Bay of Innate Wellness Group in New York City told Olive Oil Times. “Oxidized LDL cho­les­terol is the result of reg­u­lar LDL cho­les­terol coming in con­tact with free rad­i­cals.”

“Antioxidants combat free rad­i­cals and avo­ca­dos are a rich bioavail­able source of the antiox­i­dant carotenoids lutein and zeax­an­thin,” she added. “It is likely that these con­stituents may be respon­si­ble for low­er­ing oxi­dized LDL levels.”

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Along with find­ing out what nutri­ents in the avo­ca­dos do con­tribute to low­er­ing “bad” cho­les­terol, the researchers also learned that monoun­sat­u­rated fats do not. Participants fol­low­ing the mod­er­ate-fat diet with­out the avo­ca­dos did not exhibit the same pos­i­tive effects.

“In addi­tion to antiox­i­dants, avo­ca­dos con­tain a good amount of fiber and ben­e­fi­cial anti-inflam­ma­tory fats such as oleic acid, which can help lower triglyc­erides and improve HDL levels,” Bay said. “The food is incred­i­bly nutri­tious and con­tains a wide array of vit­a­mins and min­er­als, includ­ing vit­a­min K, vit­a­min C, vit­a­min E, folate, potas­sium, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and more.”

The study was pub­lished in The Journal of Nutrition.