Herbs And Health New Scientific Study Finds An Avocado A Day Lowers Harmful Cholesterol - Herbs And Health

New Scientific Study Finds An Avocado A Day Lowers Harmful Cholesterol

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Avocado Health Benefits
Infographic © herbsandhealth.net. Photo – pixabay (PD)

For far too long avocados have had the bad reputation of being high in “fat” and therefore unhealthy. It was believed that if you wanted to lose weight (or even just maintain it!), you were better off avoiding this fruit. However, much research has been done on avocados, suggesting that they are a good source of healthy fats — meaning fats that are easily broken down and processed by the body; compared to sources of unhealthy fats like fast food and junk food.



Looking Into Your Body’s Cholesterol Levels (let’s talk about “fat” too while we’re at it)

There are plenty of words that have been misused and misunderstood when it comes to health — cholesterol and fat included. Food items that are “cholesterol-free” or “fat-free” are very popular among health conscious members of society but what exactly is cholesterol and fat and are they really bad for your body? The answer is simple — there are good and bad kinds of cholesterol and fat.



Bad cholesterol aka. low-density lipoproteins (LDL), is the kind of cholesterol that builds up in the body, causing clogs or blockages in our arteries which can cause heart disease. LDL levels rise when he have too much saturated fat in our diet. Saturated fat is the bad kind of fat, which comes from fatty meat, baked goods, and fried food among others. [1]

Comparatively, good cholesterol or high-density lipoprotein helps get rid of too much LDL in the body. HDL levels rise when we include unsaturated fat in our diet. Unsaturated fat is a good kind of fat that is broken down and used by the body easily. Avocados, the subject of Wang, et. al’s study in 2015, are a great source of unsaturated, healthy fat. You can also find unsaturated fat from fish, walnuts, and liquid vegetable oils. [2]

How Avocados Improve Your Cholesterol Levels

Wang, et. al.’s study focused on the health benefits of avocados, primarily their ability to lower LDL levels in the blood, while maintaining high HDL levels — the most ideal ratio our cholesterol should have. The study had 45 American respondents who were either overweight or obese but otherwise had good cholesterol and blood pressure levels. The respondents were fed three kinds of diets: (1) low-fat diet without avocado, (2) moderate-fat diet without avocado, and (3) moderate-fat diet with one avocado per day. [3]


Guess which diet worked best? While all three adjusted diets significantly lowered LDL levels, the third diet — the one that included avocado – caused the biggest drop in LDL levels, more than 13 points compared to their baseline LDL levels. The other two diets lowered LDL levels by only 8.3 points (diet 2) and 7.4 points (diet 1). The researchers reported that aside from monounsaturated fats from avocados, the fruits are also high in fiber, phytosterols, and polyphenols which all help with lowering cholesterol. Avocados are also a great source of natural sugar, which can help curb high blood sugar or diabetes too.

Fighting Heart Disease

Because high LDL levels are one of the biggest risk factors for heart disease, the result of Wang, et. al’s study is pretty groundbreaking. When LDLs build up in the body’s arteries, they interrupt the normal flow of blood to and from the heart and brain, which can cause either a heart attack or stroke respectively. Blocked arteries around the heart is called coronary heart disease, and is the most common kind of heart disease that kills close to 400,000 people each year. According to the CDC, heart disease kills over 600,000 Americans each year – meaning one in every four deaths can be attributed to CVDs (cardiovascular disease). [4]

Getting Involved With Avocado

The easiest way to add avocados to your diet is to have them raw. They are naturally sweet and have a rich texture that is perfect as the end to a meal (or as breakfast!) You can also make a salad with avocados, which is a popular option. Toss a few avocados with your greens, tomatoes, and roasted chicken. Avocado shakes and juices are great ways to pair the fruit with your meal as well.

References:

[1] American Heart Association. Saturated Fats. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/Saturated-Fats_UCM_301110_Article.jsp

[2] American Heart Association. Know Your Fats. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/PreventionTreatmentofHighCholesterol/Know-Your-Fats_UCM_305628_Article.jsp

[3] Wang, et. al. (2015). 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

[4] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Heart Disease Facts. https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm



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