One a day to lower cholesterol, stroke and heart disease risk

Avocado toast seems to be the latest thing.

And that’s fine with me. I love the creamy taste of avocados, and spreading one on my toast seems so much better and more flavorful than slathering it with butter, or worse, “fake butter.”

Well, research is now showing that eating just one avocado a day can help lower “bad” cholesterol and protect you from stroke and heart disease.

More specifically, an avocado each day seems to protect you from oxidized LDL.

Oxidation in the body is the start of a chain reaction that ends in hardened arteries, stroke and heart disease.

If just eating something I like every day can protect me from that, well, I’m in!

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Just one each day to reduce stress on your heart

Research from Penn State University took people who were overweight or considered obese as its subjects and looked at whether eating an avocado each day would help lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.

Specifically, Penny Kris-Etherton, distinguished professor of nutrition at Penn State, wanted to see if an avocado would reduce the oxidation of LDL particles.

“When you think about bad cholesterol, it comes packaged in LDL particles, which vary in size,” Kris-Etherton said. “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 bioactive that’s protecting the LDL from being oxidized.”

Just as it turns an apple brown or causes metal to rust, oxidation causes harm in our bodies. We usually call this oxidative stress.

“We were able to show that when people incorporated one avocado a day into their diet, they had fewer small, dense LDL particles than before the diet,” said Penny Kris-Etherton, distinguished professor of nutrition, who added that small, dense LDL particles are particularly harmful for promoting plaque buildup in the arteries.

“Consequently, people should consider adding avocados to their diet in a healthy way, like on whole-wheat toast or as a veggie dip.”

Why avocados?

Besides controlling the oxidative process in the body, avocados do other things for heart health.

  • Avocados are rich in lutein, a plant pigment found in the macula of the eye. In the Penn State study, participants who ate an avocado daily increased their levels of lutein by more than 68 percent. Lutein has been found to decrease the production of inflammatory cytokines in coronary artery disease patients.
  • One avocado has 975 mg of potassium, about a third of the daily recommended amount. Low potassium has been linked to hypertension, heart disease, and stroke.
  • Avocados fill you up. The healthy monosaturated fatty acids found in avocados help you feel full, which can help you manage blood sugar and reduce levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol.

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How to eat more avocados

There are so many possibilities here!

A ripe, soft avocado can be mashed and spread on whole-wheat toast, or combined with garlic, onions and lime juice for tasty guacamole to be enjoyed with carrots and whole-wheat pita bread.

The health benefits and versatility of the avocado are no secret. Here are even more details on what avocados can do for your health.

And here are some super ways to get more avocado in your life!

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  1. One avocado a day helps lower ‘bad’ cholesterol for heart healthy benefits — EurekAlert!
  2. How Eating One Avocado a Day Can Help Your Health — Bicycling
  3. Lutein exerts anti-inflammatory effects in patients with coronary artery diseaseAtherosclerosis
  4. Lutein and Your Heart — Cleveland HeartLab
Joyce Hollman

By Joyce Hollman

Joyce Hollman is a writer based in Kennebunk, Maine, specializing in the medical/healthcare and natural/alternative health space. Health challenges of her own led Joyce on a journey to discover ways to feel better through organic living, utilizing natural health strategies. Now, practicing yoga and meditation, and working towards living in a chemical-free home, her experiences make her the perfect conduit to help others live and feel better naturally.