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February 12, 2015

An avocado a day may help keep the doctor away

It's good for more than just guacamole

Eating an avocado a day may help lower bad cholesterol, which, in turn, can reduce your risk of heart disease, a new Penn State study found.

Researchers at Penn State compared the cholesterol-lowering effect of an avocado-per-day moderate-fat diet to a nearly identical moderate-fat diet without avocados, as well as a lower-fat diet, and found that eating avocados daily decreased bad cholesterol significantly more than a diet without them.

Avocados are a nutrient-dense food high in monounsaturated fatty acids and may help lower bad cholesterol, according to a new study.

The avocado diet was found to decrease bad cholesterol by 13.5 mg/dL, compared to the nearly identical moderate-fat diet without avocados, which decreased bad cholesterol by 8.3 mg/dL.

To complete their study, the researchers randomly assigned 45 healthy, overweight adults between the ages of 21 and 70 to the moderate-fat diets and lower-fat diet for a period of five weeks each, with a two-week break in between them. 

They then compared participants' baseline cholesterol level at the start of the diets and at the end and found nutrient-dense avocados, which are high in monounsaturated fatty acids, greatly lowered participants' cholesterol levels.

Avocado recipes, besides guacamole

Penn State nutrition professor Penny M. Kris-Etherton, who was part of the research team, pointed out that much of the U.S. population doesn't know how to use or prepare avocados, aside from making guacamole. Guacamole is usually eaten with corn chips, which are high in sodium and calories, negating the health benefits of avocados.

"People should start thinking about eating avocados in new ways," said Kris-Etherton. "I think using it as a condiment is a great way to incorporate avocados into meals -- for instance, putting a slice or two on a sandwich or using chopped avocado in a salad or to season vegetables."

Avocado Key Lime Smoothie

This paleo key lime pie smoothie is gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, and sweetened with just a touch of honey, according to Lisa Wells, who created the recipe and is the author of the blog Cook Eat Paleo.

It is satisfying for breakfast or a snack. It’s decadent enough for a dessert. And it’s a lot faster than baking a pie.

Avocado Fries

Crunchy on the outside, creamy and nutty inside, these fries are totally over the top, according to Health Magazine, which shared the recipe. 

Serve them with burgers, or any of your grilled favorites. 

If you're not up for cooking, Misconduct Tavern in Center City also features avocado fries on its menu for $5. 

Chilled Cucumber-Avocado Soup with Smoked Pumpkin Seeds

“This soup is inspired by one I ate in Nicaragua,” Vedge chef-owner Rich Landau said on the Philly Homegrown blog. “The minute I tasted it, I said, ‘This is on the menu the minute we get back.’ 

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