The research, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, suggests that consumption of one avocado a day can help improve bad cholesterol levels in overweight and obese individuals.
Led by Professor Penny M. Kris-Etherton of Pennsylvania State University, the research evaluated the effect avocados had on traditional and novel cardiovascular risk factors by replacing saturated fatty acids from an average American diet with unsaturated fatty acids from avocados.
"Including one avocado each day as part of a moderate-fat, cholesterol-lowering diet compared to a comparable moderate-fat diet without an avocado provides additional LDL (low-density lipoproteins) lowering affects, which benefit CVD risk," said Kris-Etherton.
Kris-Etherton and colleagues tested three different diets, all designed to lower cholesterol: a lower-fat diet, consisting of 24% fat, and two moderate fat diets, with 34% fat. The moderate fat diets were nearly identical, however one diet incorporated one Hass avocado every day while the other used a comparable amount of high oleic acid oils - such as olive oil - to match the fatty acid content of one avocado.
The team tested the diets with 45 healthy, overweight adults between the ages of 21 and 70.
Compared to the participants' baseline measurements, all three diets significantly lowered LDL (often referred to as ‘bad cholesterol’) as well as total cholesterol.
However, participants experienced an even greater reduction in LDL and total cholesterol while on the avocado diet, compared to the other two diets, said the researchers.
Indeed, the avocado diet decreased LDL cholesterol by 13.5 mg/dL, while LDL was decreased by 8.3 mg/dL on the moderate-fat diet and by 7.4 mg/dL on the low-fat diet.
"This was a controlled feeding study, but that is not the real world - so it is more of a proof-of-concept investigation," said Kris-Etherton.
"We need to focus on getting people to eat a healthy diet that includes avocados and other food sources of better fats,” she said.
Indeed, Kris-Etherton and her colleagues noted that further research will need to be conducted with a larger and more diverse study sample and to explore further how high-density lipoproteins -- good cholesterol -- might be affected by a diet that includes avocados.
Source: Journal of the American Heart Association
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1161/JAHA.114.001355
“Effect of a Moderate Fat Diet With and Without Avocados on Lipoprotein Particle Number, Size and Subclasses in Overweight and Obese Adults: A Randomized, Controlled Trial”
Authors: Li Wang, et al