Avocados could be the new apple, if a 2015 clinical trial is correct.
A small study of 45 overweight adults found that a moderate-fat diet, which included one avocado per day, cut participants’ LDL (bad) cholesterol levels by an average of 13.5 points in just five weeks. Two other avocado-free diets—one low-fat, one moderate-fat—also lowered LDL, but not to the same degree.
For the study, published online in the Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers recruited adults who were free of heart disease but were overweight or obese. Each participant followed a typical “American” diet, then spent five weeks on each of three study diets: the moderate-fat avocado diet, where about one-third of calories came from fat; a similar but avocado-free diet; and a low-fat diet with about one-quarter of calories from fat.
All of the diets included fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy. In the end, the avocado diet proved to be the most effective at cutting LDL.
What’s so special about avocados? It’s not clear, but they are a good source of monounsaturated fat, fiber and plant-based chemicals called phytosterols, which can help lower LDL levels. There is no “magic-bullet” food, so if you do eat avocados, do so as part of a generally heart-smart diet. Instead of going the guacamole-and-chips route, include avocado in salads or sandwiches, or simply eat them whole.