One Avocado a Day Helps Lower ‘Bad’ Cholesterol for Heart Healthy Benefits

katie Bohn wrote . . . . . . . . .

Move over, apples — new research from Penn State suggests that eating one avocado a day may help keep “bad cholesterol” at bay.

According to the researchers, bad cholesterol can refer to both oxidized low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and small, dense LDL particles.

In a randomized, controlled feeding study, the researchers found that eating one avocado a day was associated with lower levels of LDL (specifically small, dense LDL particles) and oxidized LDL in adults with overweight or obesity.

“We were able to show that when people incorporated one avocado a day into their diet, they had fewer small, dense LDL particles than before the diet,” said Penny Kris-Etherton, distinguished professor of nutrition, who added that small, dense LDL particles are particularly harmful for promoting plaque buildup in the arteries. “Consequently, people should consider adding avocados to their diet in a healthy way, like on whole-wheat toast or as a veggie dip.”

Specifically, the study found that avocados helped reduce LDL particles that had been oxidized. Similar to the way oxygen can damage food — like a cut apple turning brown — the researchers said oxidation is also bad for the human body.

“A lot of research points to oxidation being the basis for conditions like cancer and heart disease,” Kris-Etherton said. “We know that when LDL particles become oxidized, that starts a chain reaction that can promote atherosclerosis, which is the build-up of plaque in the artery wall. Oxidation is not good, so if you can help protect the body through the foods that you eat, that could be very beneficial.”

While previous research demonstrated that avocados could help lower LDL cholesterol, Kris-Etherton and her colleagues were curious about whether avocados could also help lower oxidized LDL particles.

The researchers recruited 45 adult participants with overweight or obesity for the study. All participants followed a two-week “run-in” diet at the beginning of the study. This diet mimicked an average American diet and allowed all participants to begin the study on similar nutritional “footing.”

Next, each participant completed five weeks of three different treatment diets in a randomized order. Diets included a low-fat diet, a moderate-fat diet, and a moderate-fat diet that included one avocado a day. The moderate-fat diet without avocados were supplemented with extra healthy fats to match the amount of monounsaturated fatty acids that would be obtained from the avocados.

After five weeks on the avocado diet, participants had significantly lower levels of oxidized LDL cholesterol than before the study began or after completing the low- and moderate-fat diets. Participants also had higher levels of lutein, an antioxidant, after the avocado diet.

Kris-Etherton said there was specifically a reduction in small, dense LDL cholesterol particles that had become oxidized.

“When you think about bad cholesterol, it comes packaged in LDL particles, which vary in size,” Kris-Etherton said. “All LDL is bad, but small, dense LDL is particularly bad. A key finding was that people on the avocado diet had fewer oxidized LDL particles. They also had more lutein, which may be the bioactive that’s protecting the LDL from being oxidized.”

The researchers added that because the moderate-fat diet without avocados included the same monounsaturated fatty acids found in avocados, it is likely that the fruit has additional bioactives that contributed to the benefits of the avocado diet.

Kris-Etherton said that while the results of the study — published in the Journal of Nutrition — are promising, there is still more research to be done.

“Nutrition research on avocados is a relatively new area of study, so I think we’re at the tip of the iceberg for learning about their health benefits,” Kris-Etherton said. “Avocados are really high in healthy fats, carotenoids — which are important for eye health — and other nutrients. They are such a nutrient-dense package, and I think we’re just beginning to learn about how they can improve health.”

Source: Penn State

Crab and Avocado Toast

Ingredients

6 ounces crabmeat (preferably jumbo lump), drained and picked free of shells
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro (coriander) leaves
1 scallion (spring onion), light green and white parts only, finely chopped
2 teaspoons mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon kosher (coarse) salt, plus more as needed
Four 3/4-inch thick slices rustic bread
Extra-virgin olive oil, for the bread

Guasacaca

1 avocado, halved, pit discarded
juice of 1/2 lime
1/4 cup tomatillo salsa
1/4 teaspoon kosher (coarse) salt, plus more if needed

Method

  1. Make the guasacaca: In a blender, combine the avocado, lime juice, salsa, and salt and pulse until mostly pureed. (Or you can smash the avocado, then stir in the lime juice, salsa, and salt for a chunkier version.) Taste and add more salt if needed.
  2. Make the toast: Set the crab meat in a medium bowl and using your fingers, fluff it into shards.
  3. Add the cilantro, scallion, mayonnaise, and salt and use a fork to gently combine the ingredients, doing your best not to break up the crab meat into tiny bits.
  4. Toast the bread.
  5. To serve, top each toast with guasacaca and crab meat.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Toast

In Pictures: Character Bread

Interval Walking Training Improves Fitness and Health in Elderly Individuals

In Japan, health-conscious folks have been known to carry around pedometers to track the number of steps they walk everyday. The target number: 10,000 steps, as a foundation for a healthy lifestyle. Conscientious walkers can now update their device from a pedometer to a smartphone and forget about ten thousand steps with the latest study from Dr. Shizue Masuki of Shinshu University who found an effective way to increase overall fitness and decrease lifestyle-related disease (LSD) through Interval Walking Training (IWT). It’s not how much you walk, but how intensely you do so for a minimum amount of time to get positive results. This finding may be welcome news for those who want to save time and get the most out of their workout.

Interval Walking Training is the method of walking at 70% of the walker’s maximum capacity for 3 minutes, then at 40% of their capacity for the next 3 minutes. This is continued for 5 or more sets. Dr. Masuki studied a group of 679 participants with a medium age of 65 over the course of 5 months. Every two weeks data was collected from participants at a local community office and via the internet through the data measuring device (triaxial accelerometer). The triaxial accelerometer is a device that beeped to let the walker know when they were at least 70% of their peak aerobic capacity (VO2peak), and at 3 minutes to switch. It recorded their walking data to the central server at the administrative center for automatic analysis.

VO2peak is the amount (volume) of oxygen (O2) the body is able to use during physical activity. It is the milliliters of oxygen used by kilogram of body weight per minute. It is determined by measuring the concentration of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the participants breath. When the VO2 number reaches a figure and plateaus during intense exercise, that is the maximum amount of oxygen the person is able to utilize, and is an indicator of fitness. The higher the number, the more they are able to use, and the more intensely they can exert their body. Endurance athletes such as cyclists can have VO2peak in the 70s.

Dr Masuki found that her method outperformed the recommendation of the American Heart Association that to achieve peak oxygen capacity 75 minutes a week of high-intensity workout is needed for improvement. Participants in Dr Masuki’s study had significant improvements in their aerobic capacity (VO2peak), with 50 minutes of IWT a week. Improvements to their VO2peak were plateaued above 50 minutes a week.

With the study published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Dr. Masuki’s participants achieved a 14% increase in VO2peak and a 17% decrease in lifestyle-related disease (LSD) through IWT. This method is highly desirable due to an ease of maintenance. Many participants remained highly motivated and went beyond their prescribed regimen and does not require expensive equipment to administer.

Source: Science Daily

People Taking Blood Thinners May Risk Danger by Mixing with Over-the-counter Medicines

People taking blood-thinning medications often use over-the-counter (OTC) medicines with the potential to cause dangerous internal bleeding, a recent study suggests.

The study focused on 791 patients prescribed apixaban, one of several newer blood thinners known as NOACs (non-vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants) that are recommended to prevent stroke in people with atrial fibrillation, a heart rhythm disorder.

Almost all of these patients used over-the-counter medicines, and 33% of them took at least one nonprescription drug daily or most days of the week with the potential to cause dangerous side effects when combined with apixaban. And almost 7% of them regularly took two or more over-the-counter medicines that could be a dangerous mix with apixaban.

“New OTC products are constantly being adopted by patients,” Dr. Derjung Tarn of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and colleagues write in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. “This study demonstrates that patients have limited knowledge about potential serious interactions between OTC products and apixaban.”

In atrial fibrillation, electrical impulses in the upper chambers of the heart are chaotic, causing the heart muscle to quiver rather than contracting normally. As a result, blood doesn’t flow smoothly through the heart. This can lead to the formation of clots that can then travel through the arteries to the brain.

NOACs are the drug of choice for stroke prevention in patients with atrial fibrillation, which occurs most frequently in older patients. Apixaban is one of the most frequently prescribed. Others include dabigatran, rivaroxaban, and edoxaban.

Unlike the older blood-thinner warfarin, which required regular blood tests to prevent side effects, most people prescribed apixaban or other NOACs are not followed in specialized anticoagulation clinics or monthly by health care professionals, the study team writes. As a result, they may not be aware of potential drug interactions.

In the current study, researchers surveyed patients prescribed apixaban in 2018. They asked patients how often they took over-the-counter remedies like aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, and acetaminophen. They also asked about common dietary supplements, including Chinese herbs, various fish oils, ginger and herbal teas.

Aspirin was the most commonly used nonprescription treatment in the study, and almost two-thirds of people on aspirin also took at least one other over-the-counter medicine with the potential to increase the risk of bleeding when mixed with apixaban.

The study didn’t look at whether mixing over-the-counter medicines or supplements with blood thinners actually caused bleeding or other dangerous side effects in these patients.

One limitation of the analysis is that researchers relied on patients to accurately recall and report on what over-the-counter medicines and supplements they used.

It’s also not clear from the study whether people started using any of these nonprescription remedies before or after they were prescribed apixaban.

“Patients who have taken OTC medications or dietary supplements without any problems prior to starting apixaban may not consider potential interactions, particularly if they ingest the supplements as part of their diet,” the study team writes.

“For example, certain ethnic groups may regularly incorporate dietary supplements, such as turmeric and Chinese herbs, in their meals,” the study team notes. “Unless providers ask them, patients may not realize these are important to disclose.”

Source: Reuters


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