Sunday - May 16, 2021

An avocado a day helps keep “bad” cholesterol at bay


The nutrient-rich superfood also boosts your heart health

 

02/05/2021 / By Brocky Wilson

 

Avocados are a nutritious superfood that boost your overall health in many ways. These oversized berries are extra rich in fiber, antioxidants and healthy fats. Thanks to their impressive fat content, they help your body better absorb fat-soluble nutrients, such as vitamin A, D and E. Studies show that avocados help fight cancer, relieve arthritis symptoms, promote weight loss, preserve good eyesight and make your skin look younger.

A true superfood, avocados can also work wonders for your heart. A study by Pennsylvania State University researchers shows that eating an avocado a day can reduce “bad” cholesterol levels and fight heart disease.

Avocados boost heart health like no other fatty fruit

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is often called “bad cholesterol” because it causes disease. The small LDL particles that compose LDL cholesterol are particularly bad. When they become oxidized, they can cause heart disease and stroke by promoting atherosclerosis, or the buildup of plaque in the arteries. Similar to how oxygen can damage food – like a cut apple turning brown – oxidation can also impair the body.

“Oxidation is not good, so if you can help protect the body through the foods that you eat, that could be very beneficial,” said co-author Penny Kris-Etherton.

Past research showed that avocados can help lower LDL cholesterol levels. But it’s still unclear whether these heart-healthy superfoods can also reduce oxidized LDL particles. So the researchers took it upon themselves to investigate. They recruited 45 adult overweight or obese participants who were all eating a two-week average American diet at the beginning of the study.

Each participant then completed five weeks of three different diets assigned in random order. These diets are a low-fat diet, a moderate-fat diet and a moderate-fat diet that included one avocado a day. The moderate-fat diet without avocados was supplemented with extra healthy fats to match the amount of monounsaturated fats obtained from eating the fruit.

The avocado diet alone significantly reduced small LDL particles in the participants, lowered their oxidized LDL cholesterol levels and increased their lutein levels. Lutein is an antioxidant commonly found in avocado and is known to keep the eyes healthy.

The researchers suspected that because the moderate-fat diet without avocados did not have the same effect, avocados likely contain additional compounds that bolstered the health benefits of the avocado diet.

“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,” said Kris-Etherton. “Consequently, people should consider adding avocados to their diet in a healthy way, like on whole-wheat toast or as a veggie dip.”

Simple avocado recipes for good heart health

Avocados can be eaten raw, but it’s better enjoyed with other nutritious foods for a more filling, nourishing meal. Check out these two heart-healthy avocado recipes:

Tropical avocado salad

Avocados work well in salads. It provides a thick, creamy texture that combines so well with the fresh tang of fruits and vegetables. Here are the ingredients for this salad recipe:

  • 2 avocados, peeled, pitted and diced
  • 1/2 fresh pineapple, peeled, cored and cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 2-inch matchsticks
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 3 tablespoons (tbsp) lime juice
  • 2 cups sugar snap peas, trimmed
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh jalapeno with seeds
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon (tsp) salt
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

In a bowl, mix the lime juice, jalapeno, soy sauce, honey, garlic and salt to make a dressing. Add the olive oil and whisk slowly. Boil the sugar snap peas for about 15 seconds in a medium pot of water. Transfer the peas to cold ice water, drain and thinly slice into thirds. Thinly slice the pineapple pieces, then in a large bowl, toss together the snap peas, pineapple, carrots, cucumber and cabbage with the dressing. Slice the avocados and add to the salad. Stir to combine and serve.

Avocado egg scramble

Looking for a heart-healthy breakfast? This delicious recipe blends avocado with a breakfast favorite for a nutritious morning meal. Grab the following for this recipe:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomato
  • 1 tablespoon chopped onion
  • 1 slice whole-wheat toast
  • 1 ounce fresh avocado

Beat the eggs in a bowl and fry over medium heat in a non-stick skillet until cooked thoroughly. Add the tomato and onion and put the scrambled egg on the toast. Top with the avocado and serve.

Avocados are a delicious, nutritious superfood packed with disease-fighting antioxidants and heart-healthy fats. Ward off bad cholesterol with an avocado every day. You can try several recipes to make your meal more exciting and nutrient-rich.