By now, we all know that a bit of healthy fat is good for us. But a lot might be even better—at least, in the case of avocado. Apparently, eating an entire creamy green fruit every day could significantly lower your cholesterol, say new avocado industry-funded findings published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
Researchers put 45 healthy, overweight adults on an average American diet (read: heavy on the saturated fat and carbs) for two weeks. Then, they switched them to a low fat (24% fat) or one of two moderate fat diets (34% fat) for five weeks. One of the moderate fat diets contained healthy fats like sunflower and canola oil; the other got the majority of its fat from one whole avocado per day.
Each of the new diets improved participants’ LDL cholesterol (the bad kind), likely because all three were significantly lower in saturated fat than the average American diet. But the avocado eaters fared the best: Their LDL cholesterol dropped 13 points, compared to around 8 points for people on the low-fat or avocado-free moderate-fat diets.
Why? All sources of monounsaturated fat—including avocado—contain fatty acids that can help lower cholesterol and boost heart health. But according to the researchers, the guacamole staple seems to have additional cholesterol-lowering properties, like fiber and plant sterols, plus a type of sugar that might increase satiety.
Even so, a medium avocado packs around 320 calories and 30 g of fat—and eating a whole one every single day doesn’t exactly seem realistic. Replacing some less-nutritious foods with half an avocado per day is more doable—and still beneficial. “Eating that amount has still been shown to reduce total cholesterol and LDL levels,” says registered dietician Tina Ruggiero. Think mashed avocado instead of mayo in your sandwich, diced avocado instead of sour cream or cheese on your black bean soup, or half an avocado with lime juice and sea salt instead of a granola bar for an afternoon snack. Sounds pretty darn delicious to us.