How to Improve Your Heart Health with Avocados

Monounsaturated fatty acids are fatty acids which contain a single double bond in their chemical structure as opposed to saturated fatty acids which contain only single bonds.

Saturated fatty acids are found in food sources such as lard, butter, whole milk, eggs, red meat, and chocolate.  Eating a diet high in saturated fatty acids can raise your cholesterol levels and lead to an increased risk of developing coronary artery disease.

What Are Monounsaturated Fatty Acids?

In contrast, monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) are found in food sources such as avocados, nuts,  as well as canola, olive and peanut oils.   The salutary Mediterranean diet is replete with monounsaturated fatty acids.  MUFAs are known to be one potential strategy for raising HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) while lowing LDL cholesterol particularly when they replace dietary carbohydrates.

A study just published in the Canadian Medical Association journal looked at the effect of increasing dietary sources of MUFAs in patients with hypercholesterolemia or  high cholesterol levels [1].

Study Design

The study included a total of 24 patients with high cholesterol levels who first consumed a diet low in saturated fat for one month, then were randomized to a diet high or low in monounsaturated fat for an additional month.

Both groups in this study consumed a vegetarian diet which included oats, psyllium, barley, eggplant, soy, almonds, and plant-sterol enriched margarine.  In the MUFA group, they substituted 13% of calories from carbohydrate with sunflower oil with the option to exchange with avocado oil (both high in monounsaturated fat).

Study Results

What the study authors found included statistically significant elevations of 12.% in HDL cholesterol in the group randomized to a diet high in monounsaturated fat.  In contrast, the other group’s HDL cholesterol remained unchanged.

In addition, the MUFA group also demonstrated a statistically significant reduction in total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol ratios (atherogenic index) of 6.5%.  The MUFA group also had significantly higher levels of Apolipoprotein A1, a component of HDL involved in transferring cholesterol to the liver for metabolism.

[box type=”important”]What’s more is that MUFA group also had significantly lower concentrations of C-reactive protein, a serum marker of inflammation which has been linked to heart disease risk.[/box]

Overall, both groups demonstrated statin medication-like reductions in LDL cholesterol over the 2 months of the study of around 35%.  The HDL elevations demonstrated in this study was tantamount to those from Gemfibrozil medication according to the study authors.

Other methods of increasing your HDL cholesterol levels including moderate alcohol consumption as well as regular exercise.  For more tips on how to reduce your risk of heart disease, follow the link.

Article Source:

  1. Jenkins DJ, Lamarche B.CMAJ. 2010 Nov 1.

6 thoughts on “How to Improve Your Heart Health with Avocados

  • December 15, 2010 at 7:55 am

    Since the last time I was at the doctor I was informed that my cholesterol was very high and needed to lower it.A friend recommended the mediterranean diet. So after searching the internet I found this site and found alot of good imformation in it.
    Mycholesterol was reduced alot in the coming months by this diet and still use it every day. It’s now like a life style.

  • November 5, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    I’m very impressed with how much Deb (previous comment) was able to lower her cholesterol by following a modified version of the Mediterranean diet.

    I love avocado and would happily eat several a day if I could so am thankful they are a fruit that is so blessed with positive health benefits. Full of vitamins and mineral and also have this cholesterol lowering effect.

    Long live the avocado!

  • November 5, 2010 at 9:08 am

    By following a modified Mediterranean diet I was able to lower my cholesterol from 280 to 215 (so far). This diet works!

    • November 5, 2010 at 7:56 pm

      Hi Deb, that’s a pretty substantial reduction in your cholesterol levels. Congrats and keep up the great work!

  • November 5, 2010 at 9:04 am

    That was an interesting study. So much better if we can get and stay healthy with diet rather than medication. Thanks for sharing.

    Patricia Perth Australia

    • November 5, 2010 at 7:55 pm

      Hi Patricia, it certainly encouraging information to let people know about the health benefits of eating more food sources on monounsaturated fat.


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