Whether chopped into a salad, mixed into guacamole or sliced to top a sandwich, the avocado is a healthy addition to a variety of dishes. Although it features a high calorie and fat content, the creamy fruit is packed with nutritious qualities. However, some people avoid the fruit, afraid that avocados contain cholesterol.
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Occasionally referred to as the “alligator pear,” the avocado features a rough leathery skin and a shape that resembles the pear. Although the fruit originated in south-central Mexico between 7000 and 5000 B.C., it was not cultivated for many thousands of years. The avocado was introduced to the United States in 1871, where its popularity grew rapidly. In fact, 25 varieties of the fruit had been developed by the 1950s. A member of the berry family, avocados feature a rough dark green or brown skin with a soft creamy yellow-green flesh and mild nutty flavor.
Although cholesterol is typically referred to as an unhealthy and dangerous substance, these harsh judgments are actually untrue. In fact, the American Heart Association explains that “cholesterol is just one of the many substances created and used by our bodies to keep us healthy.” However, only one of the two types of cholesterol is beneficial to the body. High-density lipoprotein, or HDL, cholesterol can protect the body against heart disease. On the other hand, low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, cholesterol increases the risk of heart disease. For optimum health, your HDL levels should be high, while your LDL levels should be low.
Although avocados are very high in fat, they do not contain any cholesterol. One cup of avocado contains approximately 250 calories, an astounding 200 of which come directly from fat. Although this high fat content may seem slightly unsettling, avocados actually provide a healthy type of fat. The fruit provides a high amount of oleic acid, a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. Avocados are also a good source of potassium, vitamin K, vitamin C, dietary fiber, vitamin B6 and folate.
Effects on Cholesterol
Although avocados do not contain any dietary cholesterol, they do directly impact the body’s cholesterol levels. When eaten regularly, avocados not only lower the body’s levels of unhealthy LDL cholesterol, but also raise the body’s levels of healthy HDL cholesterol. For these reasons, the avocado is considered an extremely beneficial and healthy fruit.
Foods With Cholesterol
Animal products are the only foods that contain cholesterol. Foods high in cholesterol include shrimp, lobster, eggs, red meat, fish, poultry, high-fat milk products and butter. Since eggs and butter are commonly used in other dishes, you can also find a significant amount of cholesterol in casseroles, cookies and muffins, among several other dishes.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- The World's Healthiest Foods: Avocados
- The World's Healthiest Foods: Avocado, Slices
- California Avocado Commission: The History of Avocados
- American Heart Association: About Cholesterol
- Harvard School of Public Health: Fats and Cholesterol: Out With the Bad, In With the Good
- Peer Trainer: Calories in Avocado
- All About Lowering Cholesterol: What Are High Cholesterol Foods?
- What's Cooking America: All About Avocados