Well Being

Hamburgers Healthier When You Add Avocado

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Burger with avocado

You're at a burger joint, trying to decide whether to pay the extra 75 cents it costs to add avocado. Do you do it? You should! Avocado benefits heart health & vascular function, and a new study found that adding fresh Hass avocado to burgers can reduce inflammation and narrowing of blood vessels after the meal.

Published in the journal Food and Function, the study — conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and funded by the Hass Avocado Board (HAB) — involved 11 male participants between ages 18 and 35. Researchers found that four hours after the men ate a burger with no avocado, they showed a significant increase in Interleukin-6 (IL-6), a protein that's considered a marker of inflammation. But when fresh avocado was added to their burgers, they showed 30% less of an increase in IL-6.

There was also a difference in the way blood flowed through participants' peripheral arteries after eating the plain hamburger compared to the burger with avocado. The movement of blood was slowed or reduced 27% after eating the plain hamburger, but just 4% after the burger with avocado.

And despite the fact that avocados are high in certain types of fatty acids (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated, aka “the good kind”), eating a burger with avocado didn't increase participants' triglyceride levels any more than eating the plain burger did.

“This study supports the hypothesis that fresh Hass avocado may help support normal vascular function, which is important for heart health,” said primary study author David Heber.

“After eating a burger with one-half of a fresh medium Hass avocado, some of the after-meal effects observed after eating the plain burger, specifically inflammation and narrowing blood vessels, were reduced within hours,” he said.

Adding avocado “does, however, bring extra calories and fat to the burger,” researchers note. Which to me just seems like a good reminder that counting calories and fat grams is a stupid way to think about nutrition.