An Avocado a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

You know what they say about apples—one a day will keep the doctor away—but a new study finds this old saying could apply to avocados, too.

by Lara DeSanto Health Writer

You know what they say about apples—one a day will keep the doctor away—but a new study finds this old saying could apply to avocados, too.

Penn State researchers found that eating just one avocado per day could help you ward off "bad" cholesterol—aka low-density lipoproteins (LDL). Eating a daily avo' was linked to lower levels of LDL cholesterol in 45 overweight or obese adults in the randomized study, along with higher levels of an antioxidant called lutein.

The avocados appeared to make the most impact on small, dense LDL particles—which are known for encouraging plaque to build up in the arteries. This buildup can make it hard for blood to flow through your arteries, which ups your risk for heart attack and stroke. The research showed avocados helped lower oxidized LDL particles specifically, and that oxidation is bad for your body.

"A lot of research points to oxidation being the basis for conditions like cancer and heart disease," said Penny Kris-Etherton, Ph.D., a professor of nutrition at Penn State, in a release. "We know that when LDL particles become oxidized, that starts a chain reaction that can promote atherosclerosis, which is the build-up of plaque in the artery wall. Oxidation is not good, so if you can help protect the body through the foods that you eat, that could be very beneficial."

How to Add Avocados to Your Diet

Avocados are a food containing what’s called "healthy fats," or monounsaturated fat, according to the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. They also contain these healthy vitamins and nutrients:

  • Dietary fiber. This substance helps you feel full and aids in your digestion. One avocado contains about 13.5 g dietary fiber, per the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

  • Potassium. One avo' boasts about 975 mg potassium, per the USDA. This mineral is an electrolyte that helps your nerves and muscles function, keeps your heartrate regular, and more.

  • Folate. There's about 163 mcg folate in one avocado. This B vitamin is vital in keeping your cells healthy and your body functioning properly, per the NIH. It’s also especially important for pregnant women because it can help prevent certain birth defects.

  • Vitamin C, B6, and E. In one avocado, there's 20.1 mg vitamin C, 0.517 mg vitamin B6, and 4.16 mg vitamin E.

"Consequently, people should consider adding avocados to their diet in a healthy way, like on whole-wheat toast or as a veggie dip," suggests Dr. Kris-Etherton.

Here are some other easy ways to add avocado to your diet:

  • In salads. Avocados can add some creamy texture to your salad dish and pasta sauces For example, try this spicy avocado pasta recipe from the American Heart Association (AHA).

  • On sandwiches and in tacos. Add slices of fresh avocado to your favorite sandwich—swap it in where you usually use mayo for a healthier option—or dice it up and top your tacos with it.

  • In smoothies. Yep, you can even blend these delicious fruits into your morning smoothie. Try this avocado berry smoothie recipe from the AHA.

  • Penn State Avocado Study: The Journal of Nutrition, (2019), "A Moderate-Fat Diet with One Avocado per Day Increases Plasma Antioxidants and Decreases the Oxidation of Small, Dense LDL in Adults with Overweight and Obesity," academic.oup.com

  • Avocado Vitamin Overview: Academy of Nutrition and Dietics, "Choose Healthy Fats," eatright.org

  • Nutritional Facts About Avocados: US Department of Agriculture, "Avocados, Raw, All Commercial Varieties,"(2019), fdc.nal.usda.gov

Lara DeSanto
Meet Our Writer
Lara DeSanto

Lara is a former digital editor for HealthCentral, covering Sexual Health, Digestive Health, Head and Neck Cancer, and Gynecologic Cancers. She continues to contribute to HealthCentral while she works towards her masters in marriage and family therapy and art therapy. In a past life, she worked as the patient education editor at the American College of OB-GYNs and as a news writer/editor at WTOP.com.