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Avocados Keep Your Heart Healthy

Jan 08, 2015 03:26 PM EST
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Eating one avocado a day can keep your heart healthy, according to a new study, by lowering levels of bad cholesterol in overweight or obese individuals.
(Photo : Kasia Biel / Fotolia)

Eating one avocado a day can keep your heart healthy, according to a new study, by lowering levels of bad cholesterol in overweight or obese individuals.

By studying 45 such individuals, aged 21-70, researchers found that they decreased their low-density lipoprotein (LDL) - so-called "bad cholesterol" - by 13.5mg/dL compared to the average American diet. Though LDL was indeed lower on the moderate fat (by 8.3 mg/dL) and lower fat diets (by 7.4 mg/dL) participants consumed, the diet that included avocado proved to be the most effective.

In addition, an avocado a day clearly keeps the doctor away as it also resulted in healthier blood measurement such as total cholesterol, triglycerides, small dense LDL and non-HDL cholesterol. This is because avocados replace saturated fatty acids from traditional diets - which can increase bad cholesterol levels and raise the risk of cardiovascular disease - with unsaturated fatty acids.

"We need to focus on getting people to eat a heart-healthy diet that includes avocados and other nutrient-rich food sources of better fats," senior study author Penny M. Kris-Etherton said in a statement.

Although, that's easier said than done. Most people in the United States don't regularly eat avocado, and if they do, it's with unhealthy foods like chips (as guacamole) that are high in calories and sodium. However, researchers note that this fruit can be eaten with more nutritious foods such as salads, vegetables, sandwiches and lean protein foods (chicken or fish).

This is important considering that heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women - not cancer. About 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year - that's one in every four deaths, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

On top of its positive cardiovascular effects, previous research has suggested that avocados also contain certain micronutrients and bioactive components that may play an additional role in reducing the risk of heart disease. So instead of reaching for an apple a day, try an avocado instead.

The findings are described further in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

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