THE QUESTION Avocados contain what’s considered to be a good type of fat — monounsaturated fatty acids. For people trying to control their cholesterol levels, might adding avocado to their diet be of benefit?
THIS STUDY involved 45 overweight or obese but otherwise healthy adults (average age, 45) who, over a period of time, followed three cholesterol-lowering diets for five weeks each. One was a lower-fat diet, in which 24 percent of calories came from fats, and did not include avocado. The others were moderate-fat diets, both of which got 34 percent of their calories from fat; one of them included avocado (136 grams a day) and the other did not.
Participants maintained their normal activity levels while on each diet, and they did not lose weight. Blood tests at the end of each diet period found that all three diets resulted in decreases in the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol — the bad type of cholesterol — but there was a larger reduction when the menu included the daily avocado.
LDL decreased an average of 10 percent when people were on the avocado diet, compared with levels that fell 5 percent for the lower-fat diet and 6 percent for the moderate-fat diet that did not include avocado. Total cholesterol and triglyceride levels also were lower when the diet included avocado.
WHO MAY BE AFFECTED? Overweight adults. People who are overweight, along with those who eat a lot of fatty foods, are more likely than others to have high cholesterol levels. The body needs some cholesterol, which it manufactures and also gets from various foods, but too much of the waxy substance in the blood can cause a buildup of plaque in the arteries and can lead to heart disease.
CAVEATS The findings suggest that something in avocado beyond its fat content may have an effect on cholesterol, but the study did not determine what that might be. Whether people who are not overweight could expect the same results from eating an avocado daily was not tested.
The study involved a small number of participants. They ate Hass avocados, which have a dark green, bumpy skin and are common in the United States; the Hass Avocado Board partly funded the study.
Avocados are not always available and even if you do eat it, you can always use some other natural help to decrease high cholesterol levels. Following a sensible healthy diet is very important and you can follow the Manna Diet, but taking a natural supplement like the Manna Cholesterol Support can boost the lowering of the bad cholesterol (LDL) and also help to increase the good cholesterol (HDL).