Do you love avocado but consider it a guilty pleasure? If you answered yes, get ready for some good news!
We've all heard it before - avocadoes contain plenty of calories and are bad for the waist line, but new research has found they reduce LDL cholesterol levels in people with high cholesterol and can improve heart health.
Even better, the new review - conducted by the CSIRO and published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, found eating as many as two avocadoes a day does not cause weight gain. In fact, increasing your consumption may positively impact on your health.
High cholesterol currently affects more than 1.5 million Australians, including 21 per cent of people aged 65 and older.
Accredited dietician and nutrition consultant to the avocado industry Nicole Senior said the new findings were good news for the increasing number of Australians with high blood cholesterol.
"Raised blood cholesterol - especially LDL which is the bad type of cholesterol - is a common issue for many Australians, and this review shows avocado can help bring it down," Ms Senior said.
She said the findings were also good news for avocado lovers who had been limiting their intake due to weight gain concerns.
"It shows avocados can be included in kilojoule-controlled diets designed for weight loss or maintenance," Ms Senior said.
Based on the data, the average consumption of avocados is relatively low in Australia - at around three grams per person and 16 grams per day in avocado consumers. The recommended daily serving is 75 grams - or half a medium sized avocado.
The amount of avocado consumed by study participants was well above current recommended intakes.
The review found it took from 99 grams to 330 grams a day to lower cholesterol levels.
Ms Senior said the findings also suggested increased intake could lead to improved heart health, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Not only can avocadoes reduce the risk of heart disease, they also have a range of other health benefits. Avocado consumers are reported to have healthier diets overall, which may be partly due to avocado's contribution to nutrient intake or replacement of less healthy foods.
Research indicates avocado consumers have higher intakes of dietary fibre, healthy fats, vitamin E, magnesium and potassium, along with higher intakes of fruit and vegetables.
"Avocado consumers also had lower body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference than non-consumers," Ms Senior said.
She said while the results of the review were positive, more research was needed to assess other potential health benefits.
Australian Avocadoes has compiled a seven day meal plan, showing how you can incorporate more avocado into your diet. The plan is full of delicious and inventive recipes, including the mouth watering dessert recipe below. To download the plan click HERE.
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