Avocados, those delicious green fruits with the single large seed inside, are a staple of many cuisines. While originally popular in Mexican and Latin American countries, many Americans also have avocados on their sandwiches, in salads, or on their own. Avocados have been found to have great health benefits due the presence of monounsaturated fat, or the “good fat” as it is called. New research adds another benefit to eating avocados: helping to lower cholesterol.
A recent study from researchers at Pennsylvania State University suggests this after the findings of an experiment conducted with 45 overweight volunteers. The participants were given three different diets that tend to lower cholesterol. One was lower fat that included poultry, fruits, and whole grains. The second and third diets were somewhat higher in fat, including more nuts and oils than the first diet. One of the latter diets included a daily serving of one avocado.
The researchers found that the diet featuring avocado led to lower levels of LDL cholesterol, one of the most dangerous types. This diet decreased the levels around 14 milligrams per deciliter of blood, compared to seven or eight for the other diets. Penny Kris-Etherton, lead author of the study, was surprised to see how much difference the avocados made. “It’s something in the avocado” other than just the fat composition, she says.
Kris-Etherton wants to conduct follow-up studies to see what it is about the fruit that causes the difference. She believes there may be certain bioactive compounds within avocados that lower LDL levels. It may also be the high fiber content that avocados have, but the answer is not clear yet. Soon we will perhaps know the answer, leading to further treatments for those with high cholesterol.
Before you start digging into that guacamole with all of those tortilla chips, do not forget that you are having a calorie binge. The corn chips you are eating are a carb overload. Even worse, one half cup of guacamole has 200 calories on its own. Combine those two factors with the overeating we tend to do on game day or at parties and it is serious overkill.
For now, start with adding avocado to other meals or in your snack rotation. A couple of slices of avocado over an egg is a protein-packed breakfast that will power your day. With ground turkey and flour tortillas, they make an excellent addition to a healthy taco dinner. Just remember not to overdo it!
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