Regular consumption of avocados can help lower bad cholesterol and protect the heart against deadly diseases, latest research shows.
Researchers from the Pennsylvania State University in US based their findings on 45 healthy, but overweight adults.
During the study, the participants, who were aged between 21 and 70, were put on three different types of cholesterol-lowering diets for a period of five weeks: lower or moderate fat diet without avocados or a moderate -fat diet with one avocado.
A two-week break was given before starting each new diet. Nearly 24% of the lower- fat diet was fat, compared to the 34% in moderate-fat diet.
Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) provided 11 and 17 % of the calories in lower and moderate-fat diet, respectively.
Prior to the experiment, for a period of two weeks, the participants followed an average American diet rich in carbohydrates (51%), fat (34%) and protein (16%). Researchers tested blood samples collected from the participants before and after each diet.
Consuming avocado daily was associated with 13.5 mg/dL drop in bad cholesterol, compared to 8.3 mg/dL and 7.4 mg/dL in the moderate and lower–fat diet respectively.
Avocado intake also improved total cholesterol, triglycerides (a kind of fat found in blood), small dense LDL and non-HDL cholesterol.
Researchers assumed that MUFAs, fiber and phytosterols in the avocados may have provided the health benefits.
MUFAs are known to lower cholesterol levels and protect against cardiovascular diseases.
"Including one avocado each day as part of a moderate-fat, cholesterol-lowering diet compared to a comparable moderate-fat diet without an avocado provides additional LDL (low-density lipoproteins) lowering affects, which benefit CVD risk," senior author of the study Dr Penny M. Kris-Etherton, from the Pennsylvania State University, said in a statement.
The study appeared in in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
Avocado, which is native to Central America, according to nutrion-and-you.com, also contains poly-phenolic compound tannin and certain flavonoid poly-phenolic antioxidants (cryptoxanthin, lutein, zea-xanthin, beta and alpha carotenes); vitamin A, E and K; minerals like iron, copper, magnesium, manganese and potassium.
Apart from the MUFs -oleic and palmitoleic acids; the fruit also is a rich source of omega-6 poly-unsaturated fatty acid linoleic acid.