"An apple a day keeps the doctor away" may the mantra that you grew up with, but it appears avocado is one of the best fruits to grab to keep your heart healthy.
A new study has revealed that eating an avocado a day can significantly lower your cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Avocados are rich in 'good fats' and other nutrients and the study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, shows that the creamy fruit can work within a matter weeks to lower cholesterol in the body. The study comes as the latest piece of evidence to suggest we ought to be adding more good fats to our diet.
Along with avocados, other fats believed to be good for reducing cholesterol include olive oil and nuts.
"In the past, we used to substitute carbohydrates for saturated fat, and that would result in a low-fat diet," said Penny Kris-Etherton, chair of the American Heart Association’s Nutrition Committee and distinguished professor of nutrition at Pennsylvania State University.
"Now we're seeing that it's better for people to have good fats in their diet at the expense of saturated fat. And so the current message is to replace saturated fat with unsaturated fat, and in so doing, consume a moderate-fat diet, not too much, and also not too little," Kris-Etherton told NBC News.
The study looked at 45 people, all of whom were overweight or obese, but with healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels. The group were divided into three categories.
One followed a controlled lower-fat diet without avocado, another group followed a moderate-fat diet without avocado, and the final group added one avocado per day to a moderate-fat diet.
"The study found that all of diets decreased LDL (also known as bad) cholesterol, the main lipid risk factor for developing heart disease. But the diet that included consuming avocado each day decreased bad cholesterol the most," Kris-Etherton said.
However, it isn't just avocado's cholesterol-lowering qualities that can be beneficial for you. Avocados also contain fiber and can help to regulate blood sugar in the body.
But while avocados are a good source of 'healthy' fat, too much of a good thing can be harmful. Avocados are certainly not a low-calorie option.
"One avocado has around 200 to 250 calories. So I would strongly urge people not to just add an avocado a day to their diet but they should use it to substitute nutrient-poor calories, which are so popular in the U.S. diet," Kris-Etherton said.
Looking for ways to add avocado into your diet? Check out our slideshow of 9 tasty avocado recipes here.