The fifth leading cause of death in men is a stroke, and one of the most common causes of stroke is high blood pressure, which puts unnecessary stress on blood vessel walls. A diet that is low in salt and rich in vegetables, fruits, and low-fat dairy products may help lower blood pressure.
Recent studies have also shown that increasing potassium intake may help lower blood pressure. Potassium is a mineral that helps normalize blood pressure and most Americans are falling short of their daily potassium needs according to the latest report released by the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.
You may have heard that avocados are full of fat and so you’ve tried to stay away from them. But not all fats are created equal. Avocados contain monounsaturated fats that are great for improving your cholesterol and reducing inflammation. In addition, they contain more potassium than bananas so they are very effective at managing blood pressure. Their high fiber makes them good for weight loss and control of blood sugar. On top that, they also contain vitamin A and C that are great for your skin. Avocados both help your heart and keep you looking younger.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend consuming a diet that’s rich in potassium, which blunts the effect of salt on blood pressure and may also reduce the risk of developing kidney stones and possibly bone loss as we get older. Fifty grams of avocado (1/3 of a medium avocado) provides 250 g of potassium or 6% of the recommended Daily Value (DV).
Knowing which fats raise LDL (bad) cholesterol and which ones don’t is the first step in lowering your risk of heart disease. In addition to the LDL produced naturally by your body, saturated fat, trans-fatty acids, and dietary cholesterol can also raise blood cholesterol. Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats appear to not raise LDL cholesterol.
Cholesterol can’t dissolve in the blood. It has to be transported to and from the cells by carriers called lipoproteins. Low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, is known as “bad” cholesterol. High-density lipoprotein, or HDL, is known as “good” cholesterol.
Mono and polyunsaturated fats, when consumed in moderation and eaten in place of saturated or trans fats, can help reduce blood cholesterol levels and decrease risk for heart disease. Avocados are one of the few fruits that provide heart-healthy “good” fats. Avocados contribute good fats to one’s diet, providing 5 g of mono and 1 g polyunsaturated fat per 50 g serving.
The oleic acid found in avocados can reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Avocados also are rich in vitamins A, K, B & E and are loaded with fiber.
Increasing your intake of avocados is not difficult and is especially good if you use it to replace less healthy sources of fat.
For example, replace the butter or cream cheese on your bagel/bread with mashed avocado. You can also opt for avocado slices on a sandwich in place of mayonnaise.
You can also add avocados to salads or use as a dip for raw vegetables.
A word of warning:
Just because avocados are nutrient dense and good for your health, they are high in calories! They make a great addition to your diet . . . in moderation.
A serving of avocado is 2 tablespoons (or about 1/6 an avocado). One serving provides 55 calories. So, enjoy, look for ways to add more to your regular diet, BUT don’t go overboard.
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