An avocado a day can improve LDL levels if you struggle with weight gain

September 13, 2016 9:10 am

Lower your cholesterol with just one avocado a day

One avocado a day is enough to effectively lower your cholesterol, according to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. The results of this study show that it takes only about a week of eating one avocado a day, in conjunction with a healthy, moderate fat diet, to lower LDL cholesterol levels.1

“It’s better for people to have good fats in their diet at the expense of saturated fat. And so the current message is to replace saturated fat with unsaturated fat, and in so doing, consume a moderate-fat diet, not too much, and also not too little,” Penny Kris-Etherton, Chair of the American Heart Association’s Nutrition Committee2

The study looked at 45 people aged between 21 and 70, who were in good health, but overweight and obese. As a pre-test, two weeks before the study took place, the subjects were placed on a typical American diet that consisted of 34 percent fat, 51 percent carbohydrates, and 16 percent protein.

After the initial two weeks, the participants were placed on a controlled diet and placed into three different groups for five weeks:

  1. Lower fat diet without avocado
  2. Moderate-fat diet without avocado
  3. Moderate-fat diet with one avocado per day

Once the five weeks were up, each participant then switched groups and consumed that diet for another five weeks, until everyone had cycled through all three diet groups.

Groups 2 and 3 ate a diet consisting of 34 percent fat (17 percent monounsaturated fat or MUFA), compared to Group 1 that consumed a diet of 24 percent fat (11 MUFA).

It stands to reason that each group experienced a reduction in blood cholesterol LDL levels, as they were consuming less fat than their usual diets; however, the avocado group showed a significantly higher drop, as follows:

  1. Group 1 – 7.4 mg/dL lower
  2. Group 2 – 8.3 mg/dL lower
  3. Group 3 – 13.5 mg/dL lower

“All the foods were exactly the same, except the avocado versus oils that were high in monounsaturated fat on the moderate-fat diet. So that was the only difference between the two diets, which then tells us that it's the avocado that has additional benefits which are beyond the unsaturated fat,” Kris-Etherton

Avocado is Rich in Healthy Fat

One of the secrets to avocado’s cholesterol-lowering properties is its high percentage of MUFA, in particular oleic acid. As a MUFA, oleic acid is a plaque-busting lipid that has the ability to lower LDL cholesterol. As an added bonus, oleic acid can also increase your healthy (HDL) blood cholesterol by as much as 11%, according to one study published in the Archives of Medical Research.3

But there’s more. Besides being a powerful antioxidant, oleic acid also interacts with the brain in a beneficial way. By sending messages of satiety and a feeling of fullness to the appetite control center in your brain, oleic acid can play a vital role in helping to curb your hunger and manage your weight.4

Avocado is High in Fiber

With 13 grams of fiber in an average size avocado (200g), you’re getting the added benefit of soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber goes to work along the digestive tract to keep you regular, while insoluble fiber fights artery-clogging plaque to keep your heart and circulation healthy.

In addition, foods that are high in fiber slow down the absorption of carbohydrates and the release of sugars into the bloodstream. This is good news for people who are overweight, as it again helps to curb appetite and keeps you feeling fuller for longer. It’s also ideal for diabetics and pre-diabetics as it helps to control blood sugar levels.

Other Heart Health Benefits of Avocado

Avocado is also rich in folate or folic acid, a B complex vitamin that is prescribed to pregnant women as protection against birth defects. For the rest of us, folate is vital in cardiovascular health and the prevention of hardening of the arteries.5

Avocado Is Good for Overall Health

High in fiber and healthy fat, and low in sugar, avocado is the right choice for just about anybody. With 20 vitamins and minerals, avocados are packed full of healthy micronutrients:

  • Pantothenic acid – 42%
  • Fiber – 40%
  • Vitamin K – 35%
  • Copper – 31%
  • Folate – 30%
  • Vitamin B6 – 23%
  • Vitamin E – 21%
  • Potassium – 21%
  • Vitamin C – 20%

Avocado Precautions

Despite its many health benefits, avocado is very high in calories. For an average avocado, you’re looking at more than 250 calories. So make sure you take this into account when you add it to your diet.

It’s also important to remember that these heart healthy benefits of avocado only take effect when eaten in conjunction with a healthy diet.

Lastly, if you have a known latex allergy, you might also be allergic to avocado. Other cross-reactive food allergies may include bananas, kiwis, and chestnuts. So check with your doctor beforehand to get the all clear.

With some 20 vitamins and minerals, Avocado is one of those superfoods that you definitely want to add to your heart healthy diet. It’s also a rich source of phytosterols that help fight cholesterol, as well as polyphenols that aid in cardiovascular health and degenerative diseases. Avocado is so healthy, it is even featured in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans as a wholesome, heart-wise addition to your daily dietary requirements.

If you want to lower your LDL cholesterol and lose weight, adding avocado to your diet may help!

 

References:

1. An avocado a day may help keep bad cholesterol at bay ~ American Heart Association

2. Add an avocado, lower your cholesterol ~ Today

3. Monounsaturated fatty acid (avocado) rich diet for mild hypercholesterolemia ~ Archives of Medical Research

4. 5 reasons to eat more avocados ~ Reader’s Digest Best Health

5. Folic Acid for the Heart ~ WebMD