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Avocado health benefits

Indulge in game-day guacamole without guilt

healthy snack blog
Recent studies have confirmed the heart-healthy benefits of avocados.

Many of us are looking forward to Super Bowl Sunday — some for the game and others for the snacks. And since guacamole has become a Super Bowl staple, there’s good news for those in the latter category. Avocados, the main ingredient in guacamole, may lower your cholesterol and risk of heart disease.

Avocados are rich in vitamins, minerals, plant sterols and fiber, as well as the heart-healthy monounsaturated fats also found in olive oil and nuts. Recent studies in Spain have confirmed that including olive oil and nuts regularly in the diet can reduce the risk of heart disease. Now, new evidence has added avocados to the list of risk-reducing foods.

An avocado a day  …

A recent study published in the Jan.9 Journal of the American Heart Association by Li Wang, PhD, and colleagues found that among overweight or obese patients, eating one avocado per day had cholesterol-lowering and other heart-healthy benefits. Three diets were compared:

  • A low-fat diet with 24 percent of the calories from fat
  • A moderate-fat diet with 34 percent of the calories from fat (including fat from one avocado)
  • A moderate-fat diet with 34 percent of the calories from fat (including fat from oils similar to those in an avocado)

All three diets were low in the saturated fats that have been found to increase cholesterol levels. Both of the moderate-fat diets (including the avocado or just the fat) achieved better results than the low-fat diet. This reaffirms that replacing some of the carbohydrates in meals with heart-healthy fats can improve cholesterol levels.

When compared to both the low-fat diet and the moderate-fat diet, the avocado diet performed the best at lowering cholesterol levels, especially LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol). The avocado diet also improved the form the cholesterol took in the blood and other heart-healthy markers. Because the avocado diet had the best results, the benefits of eating avocados must go beyond their fat content to include other aspects of their nutrient-rich profile.

Adding that avocado

Don’t just think about adding an avocado to your already full plate. Avocados are calorie-rich and the research results indicated that for the best results, the good fat should replace carbohydrates without increasing calories.

Consider these simple ways to add an avocado to your diet:

  • Mash an avocado on a piece of whole wheat toast – add sunflower seeds and pepper for added taste.
  • Cut up an avocado on a salad, soup or sandwich.
  • Place avocado slices over broiled fish or chicken breast.
  • Add an avocado to a smoothie.
  • Make avocado salsa or guacamole (recipe follows).

Wholly guacamole recipe

Servings: 8 Serving Size: 1/4 cup
Calories: 112 • Fat: 10 g • Protein: 1.4 g • Carb: 6.5 g • Fiber: 4.5 g • Sugar: 0.3 g
Sodium: 5.6 mg (without salt)

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium Hass avocados, halved
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 1/3 cup minced red onion
  • 1 mashed clove garlic
  • 1 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • Kosher salt and fresh pepper, to taste

Place the pulp from the avocados in a medium bowl and slightly mash with a fork or a potato masher leaving it somewhat chunky. Add limejuice, red onion, garlic and cilantro. Mix thoroughly. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


MoynihanMeghan Moynihan, MPH, is a dietetic intern for Cardiovascular Medicine at Domino’s Farms. Meghan received her Master’s in Public Health from the University of  Michigan School of Public Health and is currently pursuing her doctorate, researching the interaction of diet and toxicants on metabolic syndrome in adolescents.

 

 

Frankel-informal-vertical-sigThe University of Michigan Samuel and Jean Frankel Cardiovascular Center is a top-ranked heart and heart surgery program among Michigan hospitals. To learn more, visit our website at umcvc.org.