Avocado a day may help keep bad
cholesterol at bay
Individuals age 21 up to seniors age
70 on moderate-fat diet who ate an avocado daily had lower bad
cholesterol than those on a similar diet without avocado
8, 2015 - Eating one avocado a day as part of a heart healthy,
cholesterol-lowering moderate-fat diet can help improve
levels in overweight and obese individuals, according to new research
published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
Researchers evaluated the effect avocados had on traditional and novel
cardiovascular risk factors by replacing saturated fatty acids from an
average American diet with unsaturated fatty acids from avocados.
Forty-five healthy, overweight or obese patients between the ages of 21
and 70 were put on three different cholesterol-lowering diets.
Participants consumed an average American diet (consisting of 34 percent
of calories from fat, 51 percent carbohydrates, and 16 percent protein)
for two weeks prior to starting one of the following cholesterol
> lower fat diet without avocado,
> moderate-fat diet without avocado, and
> moderate-fat diet with one avocado per day.
moderate fat diets both provided 34 percent of calories as fat (17
percent of calories from monounsaturated fatty acids/MUFAs),
whereas the lower fat diet provided 24 percent of calories as fat (11
percent from MUFAs). Each participant consumed each of the three test
diet for five weeks. Participants were randomly sequenced through each
of the three diets.
the baseline average American diet,
low-density lipoprotein (LDL)
– the so called ‘bad cholesterol’ – was 13.5 mg/dL lower after
consuming the moderate fat diet that included an avocado. LDL was
also lower on the moderate fat diet without the avocado (8.3 mg/dL
lower) and the lower fat diet (7.4 mg/dL lower), though the results
were not as striking as the avocado diet.
additional blood measurements were also more favorable after the
avocado diet versus the other two cholesterol-lowering diets as
well: total cholesterol, triglycerides, small dense LDL, non-HDL
cholesterol, and others.
These measurements are all
considered to be cardio-metabolic risk factors in ways that are
independent of the heart-healthy fatty acid effects, said Penny M. Kris-Etherton,
Ph.D., R.D., senior study author and Chair of the American Heart
Association’s Nutrition Committee and Distinguished Professor of
Nutrition at Pennsylvania State University, in University Park,
“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,” Kris-Etherton said.
“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
For the study researchers used Hass
avocados, the ones with bumpy green skin. In addition to MUFAs, avocados
also provided other bioactive components that could have contributed to
the findings such as fiber, phytosterols, and other compounds.
According to researchers, many
heart-healthy diets recommend replacing saturated fatty acids
with MUFAs or polyunsaturated fatty acids
to reduce the risk of heart disease. This is because saturated fats can
increase bad cholesterol levels and raise the risk of cardiovascular
The Mediterranean diet, includes
fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fatty fish, and foods rich in
monounsaturated fatty acids—like extra-virgin olive oil and nuts. Like
avocados, some research indicates that these not only contain better
fats but also certain micronutrients and bioactive components that may
play an important role in reducing risk of heart disease.
Co-authors are Li Wang, Ph.D.;
Peter L Bordi, Ph.D.; Jennifer A Fleming, M.S, R.D. and Alison M. Hill,
Ph.D. Author disclosures are on the manuscript.
The study was supported by the Hass
Avocado Board, which had no other role in the trial, and the National
Center for Research Resources, now the National Center for Advancing
Translational Sciences at the National Institutes of Health.
Source: American Heart Association Rapid Access
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