Packed with beneficial nutrients, high in fiber and an excellent source of healthy fats, avocados have been named among “superfoods,” which are nutrient-dense, mostly plant-based foods rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Other examples include berries, leafy greens, fish, nuts and olive oil.
But the creamy green fruit may also be a superhero among these superfoods, according to researchers from Penn State University.
They recently found that eating one avocado a day was associated with lowering levels of small, dense low-density lipoprotein (LDL) particles (the “bad” in bad cholesterol) that can lead to harmful plaque buildup in the arteries of adults who are overweight or obese, which now includes roughly two-thirds of American adults. Specifically, their study showed that avocados help to reduce LDL particles that have been oxidized – which is bad for the body in the same way that exposure to oxygen damages food.
The researchers recruited 45 adult participants with overweight or obesity for the study. Each participant completed five weeks of three different diets – a low-fat diet, a moderate-fat diet, and a moderate-fat diet that included one avocado per day – in randomized order.
After five weeks on the avocado diet, participants had significantly lower levels of oxidized LDL cholesterol in their blood than before the study began or after completing the low- and moderate-fat diets.
“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,” said Penny Kris-Etherton, a professor of nutrition at Penn State. “They are such a nutrient-dense package, and I think we’re just beginning to learn about how they can improve health.”