New research from Penn State University suggests that eating one avocado a day can help keep "bad cholesterol" at bay.
For the study, so-called bad cholesterol refers to both low-density lipoprotein LDL cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) and small, dense LDL particles.
In a randomized, controlled feeding study, the researchers found that eating one avocado a day was associated with lower levels of LDL (specifically small, dense LDL particles) and oxidized LDL in overweight or obese adults.
Specifically, the study found that avocados helped reduce LDL particles that had been oxidized. Similar to the way oxygen can damage food -- like a cut apple turning brown -- oxidation is also bad for the human body.
When LDL cholesterol particles become oxidized, it starts a chain reaction that can promote atherosclerosis, the build-up of plaque in the artery wall.
About the study
The researchers recruited 45 adult participants who were overweight or obese. All participants followed a two-week "run-in" diet at the beginning of the study. This diet mimicked an average American diet and allowed all participants to begin the study on similar nutritional "footing."
Next, each participant completed five weeks of three different treatment diets in a randomized order. Diets included a low-fat diet, a moderate-fat diet and a moderate-fat diet that included one avocado a day. The moderate-fat diet without avocados were supplemented with extra healthy fats to match the amount of monounsaturated fatty acids that would be obtained from the avocados.
After five weeks on the avocado diet, participants had significantly lower levels of oxidized LDL cholesterol than before the study began or after completing the low- and moderate-fat diets. Participants also had higher levels of lutein, an antioxidant, after the avocado diet.
And there was specifically a reduction in small, dense LDL cholesterol particles that had become oxidized. All LDL is bad, but small, dense LDL is particularly bad. A key finding was that people on the avocado diet had fewer oxidized LDL particles. They also had more lutein, which may be the what’s protecting LDL cholesterol from being oxidized.
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