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.

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.

“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.”

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.


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