An Avocado a Day has a Surprisingly Great Effect on Cholesterol!

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Avocados have a surprisingly great effect on cholesterol?  You are probably thinking “How surprising could it be?” For integrative medicine docs like me, it falls into the category of “Wow, that’s amazing!”  I’ll tell you about that in a minute.

All of us know a lot about cholesterol:
●  LDL is “bad” and should be below 130
●  HDL is “good” and should be above 40
●  Total cholesterol should be below 200
●  Triglycerides should be below 150

Well, in reality, there is a whole lot more to the world of “bad” and “good” cholesterol.  In my medical practice, the first effort is to support our bodies’ natural ability to maintain “healthy” levels of the various lipids that are part of our cholesterol.  We look at lifestyle choices like diet, exercise and dietary supplements before we determine that drugs would be necessary.  With cholesterol, I use the VAP Lipid test which gives a much more detailed look at cholesterol.  It covers many important components.  One of them, LDL, is important to this “avocado” conversation. Here are some facts about LDL cholesterol that you probably didn’t know:
●   There are 4 different types of LDL cholesterol, LDL1 thru LDL4
●   LDL1 thru LDL4 are categorized based on particle size
●   The larger the particle, the less likely it is to cause of a problem of blocking our arteries (in other words, of increasing our risk of heart attack or a stroke)
●  LDL1 is the largest size and LDL4 is the smallest size
●  If a person has mostly LDL1 and LDL2 particles, we call that “Pattern A” which is a good thing
●  If a person has mostly LDL3 and LDL4 particles, we call that “Pattern B” which is a bad thing

OK, with that as a foundation, let’s look at the effect of an avocado a day! In a groundbreaking study, the researchers looked at the effect of eating an avocado a day on cholesterol levels.  45 healthy people between the ages of 21 and 70 were included.  All were eating an average American diet at the start.  They were divided into 3 different groups for the study:
●  a low-fat diet (24% calories from fat)
●  a moderate-fat diet with one Haas avocado a day (34% calories from fat)
●  a moderate-fat diet without avocado (34% calories from fat)

I’m sure you can guess that the avocado group did the best.  Right?  Yep!!  After  5 weeks on the test diets, here are some of the findings:
●  LDL (in general) went down 7.4 points with the low-fat diet, down 8.3 points with the moderate-fat diet without avocado and down 13.5 points with the moderate-fat with avocado diet!
●  Only the moderate-fat diet with avocado decreased the small, dense (dangerous) LDL3 and LDL4 particles!

So, low-fat diet did not work as well as a moderate-fat diet to lower LDL cholesterol, and a moderate-fat diet that included an avocado a day dropped LDL cholesterol 63% better than the diet without avocado!  63% better effect in LDL in general, AND, decreasing the dangerous LDL3 and LDL4 particles as well!

I don’t know about you, but I am seriously impressed with these findings.  This gives me, and us, one more dietary tool to address healthy cholesterol, especially in moving away from the really dangerous LDL particles.

If you missed my earlier post about avocados decreasing appetite, you’ll find another good reason to love avocados!  Even if they are not a part of your diet every day, slip them in when you can.  Breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack time … avocados rock!

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