Should You Eat Avocados Or Are They Too High In Fat? Dr. Kahn Says Avoca-Go!
Dr. Joel Kahn is one of the leading cardiologists in the plant-based world, and now he has written a piece to finally put to rest any misconception that avocados might not be healthy. Dr. Kahn is a cardiologist, lecturer, and author on topics such as vegan nutrition and how to reverse heart disease. He has written The Whole Heart Solution: What You Can Do to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Now as well as The Plant-Based Solution: America's Healthy Heart Doc's Plan to Power Your Health.
His newest book, Dead Execs Don't Get Bonuses: The Ultimate Guide To Survive Your Career With a Healthy Heart, explores the link between health and lifestyle. Here, Kahn takes on the burning question, "Should I avoid avocados, since they are so full of fat?" If you've ever wondered whether it's a good idea to be eating avocados on repeat, read this.
Is it an Avoca-GO or an Avoca-NO?
Kah's question: Where did the concept enter the diet world that avocados might not be healthy? This story has been adapted from Plant Based News, a British publication we love and read on the regular for great stories out of the UK.
Khan writes that several times a week in his preventive cardiology clinic, a patient who has had more than one heart event will walk in and tell him they are eating a whole-food, plant-based diet -- with no added oils. The patient says he loves the control that plant-based eating gives him to stave off another heart problem. They have read or been influenced by Dr. Dean Ornish (a no-oil advocate) as well as Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, who is also a "no-oil" advocate.
"When [they] see me in my office," Kahn writes, "they turn to me and ask: 'Doc, I love all of this and am devoted.' But then, 'Can I have half of an avocado a few times a week, because I read it is off my menu,' " says Kahn.
The Confusion Starts With Ditching the OIls. Then How Are Avocados Healthy?
Kahn is scratching his head in the article wondering: "Where did the concept enter the nutrition field, or specifically, the heart disease reversal field, that avocados might not be healthy?" They are often restricted from the "healthiest" heart-healthy plans written by doctors.
The Genesis of Low-Fat Diets
Two years ago, Kahn wrote an article about the available data regarding the impact of avocados on cholesterol, metabolic measurements relating to blood sugar and inflammation, and satiety. "Overall, that search raised questions whether avocados carry a risk or benefit to measurements of cardiovascular function," he writes now.
What are some nutritional facts about avocados?
Most of the calories in an avocado come from fat. A whole avocado contains about 21 grams of fat, but mostly in the form of healthier monounsaturated fat.
A large avocado (201 grams) contains up to 30 grams of fat, 4.2 grams of saturated fat, almost 20 grams of monounsaturated fat, and 3.6 grams of polyunsaturated fat.
New Scientific Studies since 2017: Avocados and the Cardiovascular System
In a study of 31 obese or overweight middle-aged adults, participants consumed comparable breakfasts containing 0g of fat, 68g (Half-avocado) or 136g (Whole-avocado) of fresh Hass avocado on three separate occasions.
Replacing carbohydrates with avocados in a meal improved the dilation in arteries, which means it allowed the heart to pump more efficiently -- a healthy indicator of the benefit of this food. The avocado-enriched meals also improved glycemic and lipoprotein profiles in overweight and adult patients, Kahn writes.
The study concludes that "Incorporating fresh Hass avocados in meals can help people achieve dietary recommendations" for their daily intake.
A second RCT looked at the impact of one avocado a day on a form of cholesterol that is capable of accelerating cardiovascular disease, called oxidized LDL (oxLDL). The study tracked 45 men and women who were overweight or obese and had high LDL. Three cholesterol-lowering diets were provided for 5 weeks each in random sequences: a lower-fat diet and 2 moderate-fat diets and one that included eating 1 Hass avocado (higher in fat than the others), and the other moderate-fat diet used high oleic acid oils to match the fat in 1 avocado.
The diet with one avocado a day significantly decreased oxLDL which would be anticipated to a win for the vascular system. The drop in oxLDL caused by the avocado diet was correlated with beneficial reductions in the number of LDL particles, another marker for healthy heart function. The conclusion: One avocado a day is a heart-healthy diet, which works to lower LDL and does not contribute to weight gain.
Is there a place for avocados in your diet?
Two recent studies lead to the fact that yes, it's safe and healthy, Kahn Concludes. He adds:
1. For the general public, a half or whole avocado a day, particularly if replacing refined carbohydrates or animal fats, is a healthy choice.
2. For many cardiac patients in a stable state, enjoying avocados is a reasonable choice.
3. For the most advanced cardiac patients reversing seriously blocked arteries, stick with the doctor your diet provides.