Although these versatile fruits are awfully expensive, avocados are deliciously smooth and LOADED with nutrients!
To start, avocados contain vitamin C, an antioxidant that plays an important role in maintaining circulatory antioxidant protection and contributing to vascular health and arterial plaque stabilization. A 2009 review article suggests greatest cardiovascular disease protective effects on specific populations such as smokers, obese and overweight people, patients with elevated cholesterol, hypertension, or type 2 diabetes over 55 years of age (1).
Deficiencies in B-vitamins such as folate and vitamin B-6 may increase homocysteine levels, which could reduce vascular endothelial health and increase cardiovascular disease risk (2).
In addition to vitamin C and B-vitamins, avocados are a great source of protein, fiber, and healthy unsaturated fats. Avocados are fatty—and fat scares people! Yet, the author of The Secret Life of Fat explains, “Fat is not just fat.” Fat is an endocrine organ that produces hormones that are vital to our health. Our body needs fat and we possess many defense mechanisms to protect and hold on to it. So, even with its fat and all, avocados are not to be feared! In fact, their high fat and fiber content makes them exceedingly satiating—and if you are full, you are less likely to continue eating.
Several studies have shown promising benefits of an avocado-enriched diet on serum lipid concentrations (3, 4). A 2018 systematic review and meta-analysis concluded that avocado consumption increases serum HDL-cholesterol—often known as the “good” cholesterol due to its ability to metabolize and rid LDL-cholesterol and other harmful forms of lipids from the body (5).
However, in a 2013 randomized controlled parallel study, Park and colleagues found no significant impact of avocado consumption on serum HDL-cholesterol in type 2 diabetic patients. This study (2), in addition to a 2016 meta-analysis, also found a lowering effect on total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, and triglycerides by 15, 12, and 20 mg/dL respectively (6).
Lastly, a 2015 randomized controlled trial reported lowering effects of LDL-cholesterol and concluded that avocados have beneficial effects on cardio-metabolic risk factors that extend beyond their heart-healthy fatty acid profile” (3).
Avocados also have a diverse range of other nutrients and phytochemicals that may have beyond cholesterol vascular health beneﬁts. In particular, avocado’s potassium and lutein may help promote normal blood pressure and help to control oxidative or inﬂammatory stress, respectively (7).
Nutritious and delicious, avocados can be added to your breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert. YES—dessert! Turn it into gelato or make yourself a creamy milkshake—the possibilities are endless.
For fun, easy, and tasty recipes see below:
Marisa Moore, MBA. RDN. LD. shares 4 ways to make the most of your avocado leftovers! Check out the recipes here.
Looking for a guiltless dessert? Visit Rachael’s Good Eats for her avocado chocolate mousse recipe to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Add avocado to your next smoothie with this delicious recipe from Yummy Body Nutrition.
(1) Honarbakhsh S., Schachter M. Vitamins and cardiovascular disease. Br. J. Nutr 2009; 101: 1113–1131.
(2) Antoniades C., Antonopoulos A. S., Tousoulis D., Marinou K., Stefanadis C. Homocysteine and coronary atherosclerosis: From folate fortification to the recent clinical. Eur. Heart J 2009; 30: 6–15.
(3) Wang L, Bordi PL, Fleming JA, Hill AM, Kris-Etherton PM. 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. Journal of the American Heart Association 2015; 4(1).
(4) Park C, Cuypers LE, Sin A. Impact of Avocado Enriched Diet on Serum Lipids of Diabetic Patients. Journal of Cardiovascular Disease 2013; 1(1): 13-14.
(5) Mahmassani HA, Avendano EE, Raman G, Johnson EJ. Avocado consumption and risk factors for heart disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2018; 107(4): 523-536.
(6) Peou S, Milliard-Hasting B, Shah SA. Impact of avocado-enriched diets on plasma lipoproteins: A meta-analysis. Journal of Clinical Lipidology 2016; 10(1): 161-171.
(7) Dreher ML, Davenport AJ. Hass Avocado Composition and Potential Health Effects. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 2013; 53: 738-750.
Written by Nicole Lindel ~ Nutrition Education Master’s Student at Columbia University