Avocados improve your cardiovascular health even more than you think
Avocados are a superior source of monounsaturated fatty acids, which lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol. This makes avocados 'good' for heart and blood vessels, nutritional scientists say. But according to a - sponsored - human study that researchers from Pennsylvania State University will soon be publishing in the Journal of Nutrition, that's not the whole story.
The researchers gave 45 overweight and obese subjects aged 21-70 on 3 different occasions for 5 weeks a low-fat diet [LF], a moderate fat diet [MF] and a moderate fat diet with an avocado per day [AV]. In the moderate fat diet and the avocado diet, most fatty acids were monounsaturated.
During the 3 dieting periods, the researchers made sure that the weight of the subjects remained stable.
Eating one avocado per day reduced the amount of oxidized LDL in the test subjects' blood. The MF diet did not do that.
The reduction in the amount of oxidized cholesterol in the test subjects was related to a change in the composition of their LDL cholesterol. The greater the decrease in the amount of oxidized cholesterol, the greater the decrease in the number of small LDL particles [top left].
"When you think about bad cholesterol, it comes packaged in LDL particles, which vary in size", research director Penny Kris-Etherton explains in a press release. [sciencedaily.com October 28, 2019] "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 bioactive that's protecting the LDL from being oxidized."
"A lot of research points to oxidation being the basis for conditions like cancer and heart disease", Kris-Etherton continues. "We know that when LDL particles become oxidized, that starts a chain reaction that can promote atherosclerosis, which is the build-up of plaque in the artery wall. Oxidation is not good, so if you can help protect the body through the foods that you eat, that could be very beneficial."
"Nutrition research on avocados is a relatively new area of study, so I think we're at the tip of the iceberg for learning about their health benefits. Avocados are really high in healthy fats, carotenoids - which are important for eye health - and other nutrients. They are such a nutrient-dense package, and I think we're just beginning to learn about how they can improve health."
Part of the costs of the research were paid by the Hass Avocado Board. [hassavocadoboard.com] "The Hass Avocado Board exists to help make America's most popular fruit", we read on the website of this organization.
J Nutr. 2019 Oct 14. pii: nxz231. doi: 10.1093/jn/nxz231. [Epub ahead of print].
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