Research has found avocados may help lower your cholesterol, among other crucial health benefits.

They’re green, they’re creamy, and they provide several important nutrients. But how does the avocado fruit affect your cholesterol?

According to the California Avocado Commission, avocados can actually help your body absorb the other nutrients in your food. They’re also loaded with polyunsaturated and monosaturated fats, which deliver heart benefits among other things. And, when it comes to your cholesterol, avocados may actually help you lower your numbers.

Cholesterol is an integral part of the human body. It’s produced by the liver, but can also be found in animal products that you eat and drink. Elevated blood cholesterol levels can be a bad thing, putting you at a greater risk for events such as heart attack and stroke.

People who have been told they have high cholesterol are usually conscientious about the foods they eat, opting for choices that won’t further raise their risks. Fortunately, avocados are not off-limits.

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Animal products that are high in cholesterol are also high in saturated fats. Saturated and trans fats, mostly found in processed and fast foods, can raise bad cholesterol. But not all fats are saturated. Unsaturated fats, the type found in avocados, are considered healthy types of fat. And avocados have no cholesterol whatsoever.

Both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats can help lower blood cholesterol levels, making avocados a heart-healthy food. But the cholesterol benefits of avocados extend even beyond this.

According to research published by the American Heart Association, consuming one avocado per day can lower your levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), otherwise known as “bad” cholesterol.

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Lowered cholesterol isn’t the only potential benefit of including avocados in your diet. Another study found that eating an avocado at lunch was associated with increased satiety in the hours following, in overweight adults. The researchers also suggested that avocados might play a positive role in reducing blood sugar levels.

In addition to good fats and cholesterol-lowering properties, avocados contain vitamin C for tissue growth and repair, vitamin K for blood health, folate for cell and tissue function, vitamin B-6 for immune function, fiber, and more.

Introducing avocados into your meal times doesn’t have to be difficult. Though the flavor and texture can be an acquired taste for some, the fruit is versatile.

Consider making a fresh guacamole and serving it with whole grain crackers or vegetable crudités. You can use it to top salads or even pair it with fish, like in this blackened tilapia recipe. Finally, if you simply enjoy the taste of avocados, slice one in half, top with black pepper, and use a spoon to eat it right out of the skin.