Heart attacks typically happen when the inside of one or more of a person’s coronary arteries become narrowed due to a gradual build-up of artery-clogging plaque. If the blood supply to a portion of the heart is completely cut off by a blockage, the result is a heart attack. LDL cholesterol, a waxy substance found in a person’s blood and in their cells, is the main source of artery-clogging plaque.
According to a new study published in Journal of Nutrition, the researchers found that eating one avocado a day was associated with lower levels of LDL cholesterol in overweight or obese adults – major risk factors associated with high cholesterol and heart attacks.
“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.
She continued: “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 oxidised.
Heart attack: Study reveals eating avocado can lower LDL cholesterol – precursor to heart attacks
Oxidation is a normal chemical process that takes place in the body everyday. When this process happens, however, this has been shown to play a role in developing cardiovascular complications, such as heart attacks.
Similar to the way oxygen can damage food – like a cut apple turning brown – the researchers said oxidation is harmful for the human body.
“A lot of research points to oxidation being the basis for conditions like cancer and heart disease,” Kris-Etherton said.
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She added: “We know that when LDL particles become oxidised, 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.”
The researchers recruited 45 adult participants who were 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 a similar nutritional page.
Heart attack: The study found that avocados helped reduce LDL particles that had been oxidised
Next, each participant completed five weeks of three different treatment diets in a randomised 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.
According to the American Heart Association, monounsaturated fats can help reduce bad cholesterol levels in your blood which can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.
After five weeks on the avocado diet, participants had significantly lower levels of oxidised 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.
What are the symptoms of a heart attack?
According to the British Heart Foundation, heart attack symptoms can vary but the most common signs of a heart attack are:
Chest pain or discomfort that suddenly occurs and doesn’t go away. It may feel like pressure, squeezing or heaviness in your chest
Pain that may spread to your left or right arm or may spread to your neck, jaw, back or stomach
Feeling sick, sweaty, light-headed or short of breath.
Pain levels can also vary from person to person, notes the health body, as for some people the pain or tightness in their chest is severe, while other people just feel uncomfortable, or pain similar to indigestion.
It added: “Heart attack symptoms can persist over days, or they can come on suddenly and unexpectedly.”
If you suspect the symptoms of a heart attack, dial 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance, warned the NHS.