Eating a heart-healthy diet that includes avocados may lower LDL (bad) cholesterol among otherwise healthy overweight and obese people, according to a new study.
The findings don’t mean people should simply add avocados to their daily diets. Instead, the results show that avocados incorporated into a healthy diet reduced LDL cholesterol.
People should be eating a heart-healthy diet to lower the risk of heart disease.
Only 5 to 6 percent of calories should come from saturated fat, which is found in foods like butter, fatty meats and cheese. Instead of saturated fats, people should substitute polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat.
One earlier trial found that a Mediterranean diet, with monounsaturated fat from extra-virgin olive oil or mixed nuts, cut the risk of major cardiovascular problems like strokes and heart attacks by about 30 percent over five years among older people at an increased risk for cardiovascular disease.
Avocados are another source of monounsaturated fat, but they also have several other beneficial components, such as vitamins, minerals and fibre.
For the new study, they assigned 45 otherwise healthy overweight and obese people between ages 21 and 70 to one of three diets aimed at reducing cholesterol.
Participants ate a regular American diet for the two weeks before starting the cholesterol-lowering diets. Then they followed either a low-fat diet without avocado, a moderate-fat diet without avocado or a moderate-fat diet with one avocado added every day.
After two weeks on an American diet, the average LDL cholesterol, the type that collects in the arteries, was about 128 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or 3.3 mmol/L. An LDL level below 100 mg/dL (2.59 mmol/L) is considered ideal, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
Five weeks into the assigned diets, average LDL levels had fallen by 7.4 mg/dL (0.19 mmol/L) in the low-fat without avocado group and 8.3 mg/dL (0.21 mmol/L) in the moderate-fat without avocado group.
Those on the moderate-fat diet with avocado had the largest change in LDL cholesterol, however. Their LDL level fell by 13.5 mg/dL (0.35 mmol/L).
A 13.5 mg/dL reduction in LDL cholesterol may be enough keep people from going on cholesterol-lowering medications, the researchers said. The reduction isn’t nearly as large as what people would see with modern drugs for cholesterol, however.
The study also shows that these heart-healthy diets work at lowering LDL cholesterol with or without avocados.
The added components of the avocado might have given people in the avocado group an edge over the others, who were also on healthy diets.
Source: Journal of the American Heart Association, online January 7, 2015.
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