Adding avocado to a balanced diet can help raise “good” cholesterol levels. However, they may not help lower “bad” cholesterol without additional diet changes.
Adding avocados to a person’s diet can have positive health benefits, including raising levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, often referred to as good cholesterol.
Some claim it can also lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, known as bad cholesterol. However, some disagree with this finding.
This article explores some of the research on avocados and cholesterol, and answers some frequently asked questions. It also describes how a person can incorporate avocado into their diet, with some preparation tips.
Avocados contain a type of fat known as monounsaturated fat. Unsaturated fats support health, while saturated fats can raise cholesterol levels and increase a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease.
Other foods higher in unsaturated fats include olive oil, nuts, and oily fish. Foods that contain saturated fats include dairy and meat products.
In 2015, researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 10 different studies that examined the relationship between avocado and cholesterol.
They found that when participants consumed avocados instead of animal fats, the levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides in their blood decreased by -18.80 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl).
Triglycerides are the most common type of fat found in the body. A high triglyceride level combined with high LDL or low HDL levels increases the risk of heart attack or stroke.
Additionally, the researchers found that avocados did not significantly reduce levels of HDL cholesterol.
People may benefit from replacing animal fats with avocados rather than simply adding them to their diet.
According to NutritionFacts.org, eating avocados may not actually lower cholesterol. Instead, the decrease in cholesterol found in the studies may be due to cutting out animal fats, such as butter.
They further argued that while avocados contain phytosterol, which can lower LDL cholesterol, they do not contain nearly enough to have an impact.
A 2014 meta-analysis noted that people need to use
However, this does not mean that avocados have no benefit for cholesterol. A study from
This means that eating avocados as part of a balanced diet with less animal fat may positively impact HDL cholesterol levels.
No one food makes a diet healthy or unhealthy. To maintain healthy cholesterol levels, a person should make lasting changes to their lifestyle and diet.
Cholesterol is a naturally occurring, waxy substance. The body needs cholesterol to help build cells, produce hormones, and make vitamins. However, it can become an issue if too much builds up in the body.
According to the
- The liver: This produces all the cholesterol the human body needs.
- A person’s diet: Meat, poultry, and dairy products introduce more cholesterol into the body. This cholesterol is known as dietary cholesterol. These products can raise the body’s overall cholesterol levels if a person consumes too much of them.
High levels of LDL cholesterol and low levels of HDL cholesterol put a person at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
LDL cholesterol can bind with other substances in the arteries. This can lead to thickening and hardening of the arteries, known as atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis can lead to the development of a blockage, which is what causes a heart attack or stroke to occur.
Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels
As experts point out, reducing the amount of saturated fat in a person’s diet can help lower LDL cholesterol levels, while substituting saturated fats for avocado can help increase HDL cholesterol levels.
However, the best approach to lowering cholesterol is to make lasting health behavior changes to a person’s lifestyle and diet.
Some of the changes a person can make to maintain healthy cholesterol levels include:
- Eating more fiber: Studies show that a high fiber diet can lower levels of LDL cholesterol.
- Increasing physical activity:
Evidence showsthat exercise, especially aerobic exercise, can increase a person’s HDL cholesterol levels.
- Avoiding added sugar: Products with added sugar, such as sugar-sweetened beverages and candy,
have been foundto increase LDL cholesterol levels.
People usually serve avocado raw, which makes it simple to prepare. A person can easily incorporate it into a meal by slicing it and adding it to a salad or side dish.
In some cases, a person may wish to have it on toast or in tacos, wraps, salads, or sandwiches, alongside other ingredients.
One popular way to prepare avocado is as guacamole. This involves mashing avocado with herbs and spices to make a creamy dip. People often use it as a side dish or topping.
Avocados are calorically dense, so a person should be mindful of consuming an amount that suits their daily calorie requirements to maintain a healthy weight.
As a rough guideline, the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom recommends half an avocado as a standard adult portion size.
Here is a useful list of recipes that use avocado:
As well as having the potential to elevate HDL cholesterol levels, avocados contain other nutrients that are essential to the body.
Avocados can provide a person with several important vitamins and minerals. According to the
These vitamins and nutrients play a role in several functions in the body and help promote overall health and well-being.
The following answers clarify some common questions about avocados and cholesterol.
Is avocado oil healthy for cholesterol?
Avocado oil is a direct product of the fruit. The fat, particularly when used as a replacement for butter and other animal-based fats,
How long does it take for avocados to lower cholesterol?
While eating avocados may have a beneficial impact on a person’s cholesterol levels, introducing a combination of behaviors such as eating more fruits and vegetables, exercising, and decreasing stress will have the greatest impact on cholesterol levels.
A person may notice lower cholesterol levels following several weeks of dietary and lifestyle changes.
Avocados may help some people with cholesterol levels. When consumed regularly, they may help elevate levels of HDL cholesterol in the body.
However, to lower LDL cholesterol levels, a person will likely need to limit sources of saturated and trans fat from their diet.
Making lasting lifestyle changes, such as eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, exercising, limiting highly processed foods, managing stress, and quitting smoking, if applicable, would likely make the biggest combined impact on maintaining healthy cholesterol levels.
The combined effect may help people better manage their cholesterol and reduce one risk factor for heart disease.