One avocado a day helps lower 'bad' cholesterol for heart healthy benefits

Move over, apples - new research from Penn State suggests that eating one avocado a day may help keep "bad cholesterol" at bay. According to the researchers, bad cholesterol can refer to both oxidized low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and small, dense LDL particles. In a randomized, controlled feeding study, the researchers found that eating one avocado a day was associated with lower levels of LDL (specifically small, dense LDL particles) and oxidized LDL in adults with overweight or obesity.

"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 Penny Kris-Etherton, distinguished professor of nutrition, who added that small, dense LDL particles are particularly harmful for promoting plaque buildup in the arteries. "Consequently, people should consider adding avocados to their diet in a healthy way, like on whole-wheat toast or as a veggie dip."

Specifically, the study found that avocados helped reduce LDL particles that had been oxidized. Similar to the way oxygen can damage food -- like a cut apple turning brown -- the researchers said oxidation is also bad for the human body.

"A lot of research points to oxidation being the basis for conditions like cancer and heart disease," Kris-Etherton said. "We know that when LDL particles become oxidized, that starts a chain reaction that can promote atherosclerosis, which is the build-up of plaque in the artery wall. Oxidation is not good, so if you can help protect the body through the foods that you eat, that could be very beneficial."

While previous research demonstrated that avocados could help lower LDL cholesterol, Kris-Etherton and her colleagues were curious about whether avocados could also help lower oxidized LDL particles.

The researchers recruited 45 adult participants with overweight or obesity for the study. All participants followed a two-week "run-in" diet at the beginning of the study. This diet mimicked an average American diet and allowed all participants to begin the study on similar nutritional "footing."

Next, each participant completed five weeks of three different treatment diets in a randomized order. Diets included 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 were supplemented with extra healthy fats to match the amount of monounsaturated fatty acids that would be obtained from the avocados.

After five weeks on the avocado diet, participants had significantly lower levels of oxidized LDL cholesterol than before the study began or after completing the low- and moderate-fat diets. Participants also had higher levels of lutein, an antioxidant, after the avocado diet.

Kris-Etherton said there was specifically a reduction in small, dense LDL cholesterol particles that had become oxidized.

"When you think about bad cholesterol, it comes packaged in LDL particles, which vary in size," Kris-Etherton said. "All LDL is bad, but small, dense LDL is particularly bad. A key finding was that people on the avocado diet had fewer oxidized LDL particles. They also had more lutein, which may be the bioactive that's protecting the LDL from being oxidized."

The researchers added that because the moderate-fat diet without avocados included the same monounsaturated fatty acids found in avocados, it is likely that the fruit has additional bioactives that contributed to the benefits of the avocado diet.

Kris-Etherton said that while the results of the study - published in the Journal of Nutrition - are promising, there is still more research to be done.

"Nutrition research on avocados is a relatively new area of study, so I think we're at the tip of the iceberg for learning about their health benefits," Kris-Etherton said. "Avocados are really high in healthy fats, carotenoids - which are important for eye health - and other nutrients. They are such a nutrient-dense package, and I think we're just beginning to learn about how they can improve health."

Li Wang, Ling Tao, Lei Hao, Todd H Stanley, Kuan-Hsun Huang, Joshua D Lambert, Penny M Kris-Etherton.
A Moderate-Fat Diet with One Avocado per Day Increases Plasma Antioxidants and Decreases the Oxidation of Small, Dense LDL in Adults with Overweight and Obesity: A Randomized Controlled Trial.
The Journal of Nutrition. doi: 10.1093/jn/nxz231.

Most Popular Now

AstraZeneca takes next steps towards broad and equ…

AstraZeneca has taken the next steps in its commitment to broad and equitable global access to the University of Oxford’s COVID-19 vaccine, following landmark agreements ...

Johnson & Johnson announces acceleration of it…

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) (the Company) today announced that through its Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies (Janssen) it has accelerated the initiation of the Phase 1/2...

Low-cost dexamethasone reduces death by up to one …

In March 2020, the RECOVERY (Randomised Evaluation of COVid-19 thERapY) trial was established as a randomised clinical trial to test a range of potential treatments for C...

Sanofi invests to make France its world class cent…

Sanofi detailed plans on how the Company will make significant investments in France to increase its vaccines research and production capacities, and contribute in respon...

Calquence showed promising clinical improvement in…

Results published in Science Immunology showed that Calquence (acalabrutinib), a Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitor, reduced markers of inflammation and improved cl...

Super-potent human antibodies protect against COVI…

A team led by Scripps Research has discovered antibodies in the blood of recovered COVID-19 patients that provide powerful protection against SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus ...

New consortium EUbOPEN will provide tools to unloc…

Almost twenty years after deciphering the human genome, our understanding of human disease is still far from complete. One of the most powerful and versatile tools to bet...

AstraZeneca to supply Europe with up to 400 millio…

AstraZeneca has reached an agreement with Europe's Inclusive Vaccines Alliance (IVA), spearheaded by Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands, to supply up to 400 milli...

Up to 45 percent of SARS-CoV-2 infections may be a…

An extraordinary percentage of people infected by the virus behind the ongoing deadly COVID-19 pandemic never show symptoms of the disease, according to the results of a ...

Researchers identify potent antibody cocktail to t…

Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) evaluated several human antibodies to determine the most potent combination to be mixed in a cocktail...

Gilead announces results from Phase 3 Trial of rem…

Gilead Sciences, Inc. (Nasdaq: GILD) announced topline results from the Phase 3 SIMPLE trial in hospitalized patients with moderate COVID-19 pneumonia. This open-label st...

Mayo finds convalescent plasma safe for diverse pa…

Mayo Clinic researchers and collaborators have found investigational convalescent plasma to be safe following transfusion in a diverse group of 20,000 patients. The findi...