Avocados Can Lower Bad Cholesterol

Avocados may help reduce low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.

A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association suggests that eating an avocado a day may lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.

In the study, 45 healthy but overweight or obese patients between the ages of 21 and 70 were put on an “American” diet with 34% of calories from fat, 51% from carbohydrates, and 16% from protein. After being on that diet for 2 weeks, patients were then randomized to 1 of the following diets for 5 weeks: a lower-fat diet without avocados (24% of calories from fat with 11% being monounsaturated fat), a moderate-fat diet without avocados (34% of calories from fat with 17% being monounsaturated fat), or a moderate-fat diet with 1 avocado daily (also 34% of calories from fat with 17% being monounsaturated fat).

At the end of the study, researchers observed that:

  • LDL cholesterol was lowered by 13.5 mg/dL from baseline after consuming a moderate-fat diet with a daily avocado. LDL cholesterol was also lowered in the moderate-fat diet without a daily avocado by 8.3 mg/dL and 7.4 mg/dL with the lower-fat diet.
  • Total cholesterol, triglycerides, non-HDL cholesterol, and small, dense LDL cholesterol were also lowered with the avocado diet.

All of the above measurements are considered to be cardiometabolic risk factors.

Senior study author Penny M. Kris-Etherton, PhD, RD, chair of the American Heart Association's Nutrition Committee and Distinguished Professor of Nutrition at Pennsylvania State University in University Park, Pennsylvania, stated that, “This was a controlled feeding study, but that is not the real world—so it is a proof-of-concept investigation.” She also said that patients need to start focusing on consuming a heart-healthy diet that consists of not only avocados, but also other nutrient-rich foods that are sources of mono- and polyunsaturated fats.

Avocados are not only a source for monounsaturated fats, but they also provide fiber, phytosterols, and other bioactive substances. All of those factors may have played a role in the study results, the authors noted.