Maybe an *avocado* a day keeps the doctor away—to an extent.
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Keeping your cholesterol levels in check is a key part of staying heart-healthy. While some folks have genetically high cholesterol, others can help lower their "bad" cholesterol levels—that's the amount of plaque-depositing LDL cholesterol in your body—by tweaking their routines.

Pictured Recipe: Salmon-Stuffed Avocados

Lowering the amount of saturated and trans fat in your diet can help, and there are also some foods, like salmon and red wine, that can raise the amount of "good" cholesterol in your system. Avocados, which are rich with monounsaturated fats, are a creamy way to help lower your LDL cholesterol—and new research suggests they can have an impact when eaten regularly.

A new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that eating one avocado per day could lead to a slight decrease in cholesterol levels. (Funded by the Hass Avocado Board, the research team included experts from Penn State University, Tufts University, Wake Forest University and UCLA, among others.) Overall, daily avocado consumption resulted in total cholesterol decreasing 2.9 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) and LDL cholesterol decreasing 2.5 mg/dL among the study participants.

"While one avocado a day did not lead to clinically significant improvements in abdominal fat and other cardiometabolic risk factors, consuming one avocado a day did not result in body weight gain," said study author Joan Sabaté, M.D., Dr.P.H.,in a media release. "This is positive because eating extra calories from avocados doesn't impact body weight or abdominal fat, and it slightly decreases total and LDL cholesterol."

Salmon-Stuffed Avocados

Avocados—which are technically a fruit, by the way—made more heart-healthy news this year when a different American Heart Association study found that eating avocado twice each week could lower your heart disease risk by 16%. The impact was especially large when participants chose avocado as a replacement for some foods, like cheese or butter. (Recipes like our Avocado Egg Salad Sandwiches and Avocado Pesto are perfect for making avo-based swaps!)

In the new study, participants who ate more avocados were likely to have higher-quality diets. On a 100-point scale, researchers say that eating an avocado each day boosted the overall quality of a diet by eight points.

"Adherence to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans is generally poor in the U.S., and our findings suggest that eating an avocado per day can substantially increase overall diet quality," study author Kristina Petersen, Ph.D., said in a media release. "This is important because we know a higher diet quality is associated with lower risk of several diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers."

A standard serving is about one-third of an avocado, so you could work in your one avocado a day with a serving at each meal—or you could opt for an avocado-packed recipe to knock out most of your goal in a single sitting. A recipe like our Green Goddess Sandwich, with half an avocado in each serving, would be a tasty way to get in your daily dose of avo. The same goes for other fun summer options, like our Loaded Cucumber & Avocado Sandwich and Quinoa Avocado Salad.

Yummy snacks, like this Avocado Hummus, are also ways to sneak in a little extra of the healthy ingredient each day. And while avocado can be tricky to keep green all day (hello, oxidation!), folks on the go could always get their kicks from drinks like our Really Green Smoothie and Spinach-Avocado Smoothie.

The Bottom Line

In the largest-ever study of health effects of avocados, researchers found that eating an avocado each day could slightly lower unhealthy cholesterol levels. While this study was funded by the Hass Avocado Board and will need further research to confirm its findings, it's not the first time researchers have sung the praises of avocado—whether they were praising the fruit's heart-healthy qualities or its helpfulness to those trying to maintain a healthy weight. Even if you don't fit a whole avocado into your routine each day, there are plenty of ways to sneak some more into your routine, whether you smear it onto a wrap, add some to breakfast or use it to top a salad.

No matter how you bring that creamy green ingredient to your table, you're bound to fall in love with its versatility *and* its healthful perks.