A typical serving of avocado is about one-fifth of a medium fruit -- the perfect amount to spread on a sandwich or complement the handful of cherry tomatoes you’re snacking on after lunch. This perfectly portioned 1-ounce serving has just 50 to 60 calories, 2 grams of fiber and no sodium. And it’s packed with healthy nutrients, like potassium, folic acid, vitamin E and the B vitamins. And while avocado itself contains no dietary cholesterol, it’s healthy unsaturated fats can help improve your blood cholesterol levels.
Low-density lipoprotein is the bad type of cholesterol. When LDL levels in the bloodstream get too high, the cholesterol molecules accumulate along blood vessel walls, forming a hard plaque. It’s similar to what happens to your hair conditioner bottle -- over time, the product begins accumulating around the bottle’s opening, forming a hard crust. As this crust continues to accumulate, it becomes increasingly more difficult to push conditioner out of the bottle -- until the flow of product is eventually completely blocked. In your body, the cholesterol plaque prevents blood from flowing through your blood vessels, putting you at risk for a heart attack or stroke.
High-density lipoprotein, on the other hand, is a healthy type of cholesterol. HDL cholesterol molecules actually pick up LDL cholesterol molecules and deliver them to the liver -- where they are categorized as waste products and removed from the body. So, while LDL cholesterol increases your risk of heart and cardiovascular disease, HDL cholesterol actually decreases your risk.
Avocados & Cholesterol
Avocados are packed full of monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats -- a 1-ounce serving has 3 to 4 grams of the fatty acids. While “fats” often get a bad reputation, unsaturated fats are actually very healthy and beneficial to the body. Although additional research is needed to identify exactly how the relationship between unsaturated fats and cholesterol works, MayoClinic.com explains that unsaturated fats not only lower LDL cholesterol, but also increase HDL cholesterol.
How To Eat ‘Em
Other than mashing them up to make guacamole, you might be a bit perplexed about how to incorporate the fruit into your daily diet. With its subtle nutty flavor, avocado can easily be enjoyed on its own as a between-meals snack. A drizzle of olive oil or lime juice with a sprinkle of salt gives the fruit a zestier taste. Avocado slices can also be tucked into sandwiches, tossed into salads and used to top baked potatoes. Mashed avocados can be mixed into pasta sauce, used to top toast or spread onto a pizza crust in place of traditional red sauce. And if you’re really into a bit of culinary creativity, the California Avocado Commission recommends using the slightly nutty fruit to make a pie, smoothie or cheesecake.
Krista Sheehan is a registered nurse and professional writer. She works in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and her previous nursing experience includes geriatrics, pulmonary disorders and home health care. Her professional writing works focus mainly on the subjects of physical health, fitness, nutrition and positive lifestyle changes.