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This High-Fat Food Can Lower Your Cholesterol
Last Updated: Sunday - April 10th, 2016 05:34:51 AM

A number of years ago during my first year of residency training, I was talking with a group of residents around 2 a.m., when the hospital employee cafeteria opened for about an hour to feed the night shift. We often worked 80 to 100 hours a week, and even at 1 a.m., food was a welcome gift for the weary. Conversations during these meals often revolved around the events of the day and what we may have planned for our one day off each week.

On this particular night, we talked about what we would have as our last meal. Choices ranged from the gourmet to what we loved as a child. I quickly realized I had not put a lot of sophisticated thought into the topic: I was trying to decide between Mexican and Chinese food that you could get in almost any town in America.

Ultimately, I decided I would go out with a good plate of Mexican food, and for this reason you’ll understand my enthusiasm for this topic.

Avocados Are Nutrient Powerhouses

Avocados are on many short lists of superfoods because they are packed with vitamins and nutrients. Here is a list of some of what they contain, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.

  1. Lutein. This powerful antioxidant tends to occur in high concentrations in our eyes. Lutein has a protective effect on ultraviolet light from the sun. It also improves vision in dim light.
  2. Vitamins. The numerous vitamins in avocados include vitamin B complex (B5, B6, B9) and folate, as well as vitamins C, D, E, and K.
  3. Potassium. Avocados are one of the richest sources of potassium. When I ask patients which foods contain potassium, almost all tell me bananas. Avocados contain more potassium per weight than bananas. Potassium is a necessary electrolyte in our body, and can lower blood pressure when consumed in healthy food sources.
  4. Fiber. An avocado contains about 11 grams of fiber, on average. This is about half of the recommended minimum daily fiber intake.

One of the problems with avocados is that they are high in fat. However, the fat source is healthy, as it is mainly comprised of monounsaturated fats. Fat consumption is essential to any conversation about heart health. Some fats are quite good for us and improve our heart health. Other fats can cause cholesterol levels to rise, increase body inflammatory markers, and raise risks of coronary atherosclerosis and heart attack.

Unfortunately, the high-fat content of avocados also makes them calorie-dense. An average avocado contains about 250 calories. As such, when you research recommended serving sizes for avocados you may not be surprised to find that they are small.

<div style="width:100%;max-width:590px;margin:0 auto;"><iframe src="//www.findthebest.com/w/6DeOply9VAh" width="590" height="460" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:static;vertical-align:top;max-width:100%;min-height:460px;"></iframe><div style="text-align:center;"><a target="_blank" href="http://nutrition.healthgrove.com" style="font:14px/16px arial;color:#3d3d3d;">Avocado Nutrition Information | HealthGrove</a></div></div>

Bad Fats and High Cholesterol

People who have high cholesterol levels tend to rely on a few simple options. First, weight loss and changing to a healthier, fiber-rich diet. I dedicated a prior column to the past 50 years of heart-healthy diets.

The next step typically is adding a medication called a statin (HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor). These drugs have been shown to lower cholesterol, heart attack risk, stroke risk, and in people with high cholesterol or body inflammation improve mortality. They are a go-to drug in the tool chest of all cardiologists. Unfortunately, statins do have side effects. The most common is generalized muscle and joint pain. This can be disabling to some people, including some in my family. Rarely, this pain is from a severe inflammatory muscle injury called myositis. Fortunately, for most people the symptoms are not a reflection of actual muscle and joint injury.

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