New health study has good news for avocado lovers

avocado
CC BY 2.0 liz west

Avocados may be high in fat, but new research from Penn State suggests they won’t have an unhealthy impact on your cholesterol levels. The study finds that an avocado per day may lower bad cholesterol, which in turn can benefit your heart health.

The study asked 45 overweight yet healthy adults to try three types of diets, all designed to lower bad LDL cholesterol. One diet included 24 percent fat. The other two diets both included 34 percent fat, the first included one Hass avocado and the second included a comparable amount of high oleic acid oils such as olive oil.

Each participant followed the three diets for five weeks, with a two week break in between diets. The researchers found that the diet with the lowest amount of fat reduced bad cholesterol by 7.4 mg/dL. The diet with moderate fat and no avocados lowered bad cholesterol by 8.3 mg/dL. The diet with moderate fat that included a Hass avocado lowered bad cholesterol the most, by 13.5 mg/dL.

You may want to take these findings with a grain of salt: some of the funding for the study came from The Hass Avocado Board. The findings are published in the January 7 edition of the Journal of the American Heart Association.

It’s also good to keep in mind that a controlled study isn’t the same as what people might eat in everyday life. “This was a controlled feeding study, but that is not the real world -- so it is more of a proof-of-concept investigation," said researcher Penny M. Kris-Etherton in a press statement. So, if you load up your avocado meal with other unhealthy ingredients (such as chips), you may not get the same benefits.

These caveats aside, avocados are high in many nutrients. A cup of sliced avocado has 234 calories, 24 percent of the daily recommended vitamin C, 20 percent vitamin B6, and 10 percent magnesium.

To minimize the environmental impact of your avocados, look for fruit that’s organic and domestically grown. California avocados are typically in season from late March through September, while Florida avocados tend to be in season from June through January and hothouse avocados may be available year-round.

Kris-Etherton, who is a professor of nutrition at Penn State, says that we should start thinking creatively about including avocados in healthy recipes.

For inspiration, be sure to check out our 10 delicious radical avocado recipes!

Tags: Fruits & Vegetables | Health

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