Lower Cholesterol Naturally
There was a time, a few decades ago, when Americans believed that fat in the diet was the greatest enemy of health. Virtually anything and everything was suspected of playing a role in raising “bad” LDL-cholesterol levels. And cholesterol was believed to be the chief cause of cardiovascular disease, through its nefarious role in promoting atherosclerosis. Nuts were suspect, due to their relatively high fat content. Eggs were all but toxic, due to their reportedly high levels of cholesterol. And fruits such as avocados, which are rich in monounsaturated fats, were viewed with horror and disdain.
Beyond the supposed fat-cholesterol connection, fats were viewed with dread and suspicion because they contain inherently more calories than the same amount of carbohydrates or protein. Together, these three primary components provide all the calories in the diet. It seemed to make sense that cutting back drastically on the highest-calorie component of any given food—namely fats—would benefit health, and weight loss efforts.
While it may have seemed to make sense, this approach to dietary fats was misguided. We now know that most cholesterol in the body comes not from the diet, but is generated within the body itself. We also know that much of this is determined not by diet, but by one’s genetic makeup. We also know that LDL is not inherently “bad”. Rather, LDL that has become “peroxidated" is problematic. And what causes LDL peroxidation? Primarily a lack of dietary antioxidants, which results in oxidative stress. And what causes a lack of adequate dietary antioxidants? Too few whole fruits, vegetables and other plant foods in the diet. Including, as it turns out, lovely wholesome fruits such as high-fat avocados.
We’ve come a long way, baby.
As it turns out, new research shows that it is possible, in fact, to significantly lower one’s “bad” LDL-cholesterol levels simply by eating an avocado a day, for about five weeks. While the “experts” of the 1980s would probably recoil in horror at the prospect of eating an avocado a day for one week, let alone five, the fact remains that doing so is not only not bad for you; it’s downright beneficial.
Overweight and obese people were recruited to participate in a study that examined the effects of various moderate-fat diets on heart disease risk factors, such as cholesterol levels. Only subjects who ate an avocado daily experienced significant changes in the makeup of their blood cholesterol levels, leading investigators to conclude, “…avocados have beneficial effects on cardio‐metabolic risk factors that extend beyond their heart‐healthy fatty acid profile.”
So if any of you are still clinging to your Jane Fonda Workout-era ideas about fatty plant foods, you may want to reconsider. Avocados are inarguably rich in monounsaturated fats, but that’s nothing to fear. In fact, it’s downright beneficial.
Wang L, Bordi PL, et al. Effect of a Moderate Fat Diet With and Without Avocados on Lipoprotein Particle Number, Size and Subclasses in Overweight and Obese Adults: A Randomized, Controlled Trial