11 Feb Avocados: The New Apple?
By Catherine Cioffi, RD, Contributing Blogger
We all know an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Though this certainly may be true, a new study suggests that eating an avocado daily may also have potential health benefits. Published in The Journal of the American Heart Association, the study found that eating one avocado a day as a part of an overall balanced diet can help to lower “bad” cholesterol.
Led by nutrition researchers from Penn State University, the avocado trial had two phases. First, the adult volunteers were monitored while they ate a normal American diet for two weeks. Next, they ate three different diets for 5-weeks each: a moderate fat diet with one avocado per day, a comparable moderate fat diet without avocado, and a lower fat diet without avocado. All three diets met certain heart healthy criteria, and emphasized “good” fats, which came from avocado or foods like olive oil (for the latter two diets).
Overall, the researchers found that all three diets lowered “bad” (LDL) cholesterol, compared to when volunteers were eating the initial American diet. Between the three diets, the avocado diet led to the greatest reductions in LDL-cholesterol, especially the smaller, dense LDL cholesterol (which are believed to be the most risky for heart health). Similar improvements were also found in other heart disease risk factors, like total cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
What’s An Avocado-Lover To Do?
Embrace avocados as a nutrient-filled food…
This new research supports avocados for having heart health benefits, probably because it’s brimming with healthy, monounsaturated fats. However, it doesn’t stop there. Avocados (which are actually a fruit) also provides other important nutrients, including vitamins and minerals like folate, Vitamins E and C, and potassium, antioxidants, and fiber.
…But keep in mind your overall diet as well!
Though the benefits of avocados were apparent in the recent study, the authors note an important caution: their volunteers did not simply add one avocado per day on top of their current diet. The avocado was substituted in, as a replacement for other foods, and in the context of an overall healthy diet. One whole avocado has about 250 calories, and though it’s packed with good-for-you nutrients, it’s also a significant addition beyond a usual diet if not accounted for.