Once banished for being high in fat, this fruit is making a healthy comeback.

WebMD Feature

Aug. 14, 2000 -- For as long as he can remember, George Bliss, age 81, has been eating avocados morning, noon, and night. A second-generation California avocado farmer, Bliss loves the fruits of his labor. "I eat three avocados a day," he says with the fervor of a true addict. "I have one on my eggs in the morning, one in my salad at noon, and one with my dinner."

Partaking of his land's bounty doesn't seem to have done Bliss any harm. After eight decades of daily avocado consumption, he's still going strong; at 6 feet tall, he weighs a trim 180 pounds. He believes that he has avocados to thank for his good health. "I'm still living and I'm over 80," he says. "I do some exercise on a bicycle, and I walk through the orchards keeping up with my business. I don't need a cane or anything." And sure, Bliss says, his green globes might be a bit fatty, but that's no reason to fear them.

It's true that avocados are high in fat -- one reason they've earned the nickname "butter pear." A medium-sized avocado contains 30 grams of fat, as much as a quarter-pound burger. That's why diet experts have long urged Americans to go easy on avocados in favor of less fatty fruits and vegetables. But now nutritionists are taking another look. They're finding that most of the fat in an avocado is monounsaturated -- the "good" kind that actually lowers cholesterol levels. Thanks to this new understanding, the U.S. government recently revised its official nutrition guidelines to urge Americans to eat more avocados.


High in the Good Fat

The avocado's image first took on some polish with a 1996 study by researchers at the Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social in Mexico (Archives of Medical Research, Winter 1996) that looked at the health benefits of daily avocado consumption. The 45 volunteers who ate avocados every day for a week experienced an average 17% drop in total blood cholesterol. Their cholesterol ratio also changed in a healthy way: Their levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein, or "bad fat") and triglycerides, both associated with heart disease, went down. Their HDL (high-density lipoprotein, or "good fat") levels, which tend to lower the risk of heart disease, climbed.

Researchers have also discovered that avocados are rich in beta-sitosterol, a natural substance shown to significantly lower blood cholesterol levels. In a review article published in the December 1999 issue of the American Journal of Medicine, researchers pointed out that beta-sitosterol was shown to reduce cholesterol in 16 human studies.

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I just love avocados and eat them all the time!

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Replies to This Discussion

I like pomegranates -- will have to try that.

Thank you Tonya.

I love avocados! I eat about 1/2 avocado a day -- just about! They are very yummy!

I love avocados!  We have a Fuerte' tree that's as old as I am, and still producing.  BUT I can barely eat them...I get a powerful stomach ache sometimes whether I eat one "naked" or with a salad or salsa and chips.  I can handle maybe 1/4 of one without problems, but my sister eats (or sells) most of them before I can get my hands on any.

Back in the early '80s my dad had some little strokes, and avocados were one of the few things he could swallow without choking.  So that's what he ate...daily.  His doctor had a hissy, he yelled, "But they're loaded with cholesterol!"  I yelled back, "How could they be? They grow on trees!"  He didn't have an answer for that, but now I realize that back then they barely knew the difference between HDL and LDL.

Once upon a time olive oil, and olives, were also considered dietary no-nos, and that's changed, too.

Oh! I want a tostada!  A corn tortilla, refried beans, a ton of lettuce, guacamole, with salsa, sliced black olives and sour cream on top.  YESSSS! ALL good stuff.

(Flour tortillas are NOT "correct."  And they're made with white flour, anyway (unless you can find some whole wheat tortills) , so...

When's dinner?

Oh yummy! I want one too! Send one through the computer. : )




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