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images-1One of my favorite meals of the day is lunch. This is mainly due to the fact that it always involves one of my favorite foods: the avocado. Avocados are usually referred to as a superfood, mainly because they are packed with vitamins, minerals, nutrition, and provide us with the healthy fats we need. Did I forget to mention that they taste amazing as well? The news just keeps getting better when it comes to avocados though, as a new study in the Journal of the American Heart Association can lower cholesterol by just adding one avocado to your daily diet.

According to research, many heart-healthy diets recommend replacing saturated fatty acids with plaque-busting monounsaturated fatty acids to reduce the risk of heart disease. This is because saturated fats can increase bad cholesterol levels and raise the risk of cardiovascular disease. Like nuts and olive-oil, avocados have monounsaturated fatty acids and the effects seem similar to all the benefits from a Mediterranean diet.

The Mediterranean diet includes fatty fish, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and foods rich in monounsaturated fatty acids. Like avocados, some research shows that these not only contain better fats but also certain micronutrients and bioactive components that may play an important role in reducing the risk of heart disease.

“All diets decreased LDL cholesterol, the main lipid risk factor for cardiovascular disease. But the diet with the avocado decreased LDL cholesterol the most,” Kris-Etherton, American Heart Association’s Nutrition Committee and distinguished professor of nutrition at Pennsylvania State University said.

Americans are advised to keep total cholesterol below 200 (preferably below 180) and LDL should be below 100.

“While they were eating the avocado-a-day diet, the volunteers saw their LDL go down by more than 13 points compared to their usual level,” Kris-Etherton’s team reported in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

A larger reason avocados are great in the fight against heart disease is because they contain phytosterols, polyphenols and fiber…which can all help lower cholesterol. Avocados may help regulate blood sugar since they also contain natural sugars.

Even though avocados are packed with so many positive health benefits, we also need to be aware that they are not a low-calorie food (since each one contains 200-250 calories).  So people might want to think about replacing empty nutrient-less calories with these healthy ones instead.  Avocados are great to add to a salad, a protein (like chicken or fish) or a sandwich.  Or try one of my personal favorites: mashed avocado with pepper flakes on ezekiel bread.  Keep that heart healthy and happy!