A recent study has found that eating one avocado per day can reduce levels of bad cholesterol in overweight and obese individuals.
High cholesterol levels, specifically oxidized LDL and small dense LDL cholesterol are involved in the development of atherosclerosis and increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Diets composed of saturated fatty acids increase the production of harmful cholesterol in the body. To reduce these effects, diets composed of antioxidants, unsaturated fatty acids, and reduced fat content are recommended. Avocados are a great source of multi-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) and antioxidants.
In a recent study published in The Journal of Nutrition, researchers from Pennsylvania State University studied the effects of avocado consumption in overweight and obese individuals. The focus of the study was to determine if a diet supplemented with one avocado a day provided an added benefit against harmful oxidized LDL particles and alterations of LDL cholesterol levels in the body, in comparison to two other diet plans. A total of 45 participants with BMI ranging between 25-35 and LDL cholesterol levels in the 25th to 90th percentile participated in the study. The participants started with an average American diet composed of 34% fat, 51% carbohydrate, and 16% protein for a period of two weeks and were then randomly assigned to one of three diets for a duration of five weeks. The three diets were a Moderate Fat, Lower Fat, and an Avocado-based diet. Throughout the study, participants maintained their usual activities, and fasting blood samples were taken before and after the five-week diet period. The blood samples were tested for levels of oxidized LDL, small density LDL, and antioxidants, specifically Tocopherols, Carotene, Lutein, and Retinol.
The researchers found that participants consuming the Avocado-based diet had reduced levels of oxidized and small dense LDL when compared with the moderate and low-fat diets. Increased levels of the antioxidants alpha-carotene and lutein were also found in these participants, in comparison to baseline blood sample levels.
The results suggest that consuming avocado daily, significantly increases the levels of protective antioxidants such as alpha-carotene and lutein, while also reducing circulating levels of harmful oxidized LDL and small dense LDL in the body. This may help reduce the harmful effects of oxidized and small dense LDL particles that are involved in the development of atherosclerosis and increased risk of cardiovascular disease. However, further research is necessary to confirm these effects and investigate any potential negative effects of consuming a whole avocado each day over a long period of time.
Written by P. Sukumar
- Wang, L., et al. (2019). The Journal of Nutrition. 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.
- Bohn, K. (2019). Eurekalert!. One avocado a day helps lower ‘bad’ cholesterol for heart healthy benefits.