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BLOOMINGTON — Eating one avocado a day as part of a heart-healthy, cholesterol-lowering, moderate-fat diet can help to improve bad cholesterol levels in overweight and obese individuals, according to research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Researchers evaluated the effect that avocados had on traditional and novel cardiovascular risk factors by replacing saturated fatty acids from an average American diet with unsaturated fatty acids from avocados.

Forty-five healthy, overweight or obese patients between ages 21 and 70 were put on three different cholesterol-lowering diets. Participants consumed an average American diet for two weeks before starting one of the following cholesterol-lowering diets: lower fat without avocado, moderate fat without avocado and moderate fat with one avocado a day. Each participant consumed each of the three diets for five weeks.

Researchers found that compared to the average American diet, low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or bad cholesterol) was lower after eating the moderate fat diet that included an avocado compared to the other two diets. Several additional blood measurements also were more favorable after the avocado diet versus the other two diets.

"We need to focus on getting people to eat a heart-healthy diet that includes avocados and other nutrient-rich food sources of better fats," said study author Penny M. Kris-Etherton of Pennsylvania State University.

Avocados may be eaten with salads, vegetables, sandwiches, lean protein foods such as chicken or fish or whole.

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