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Are Avocados the World’s Most Perfect Food?

Guacamole lovers rejoice: Not only do avocados help reduce heart attack and diabetes risk and lower cholesterol, but they can also slim your waist and keep extra pounds away, according to recent studies.

In fact, this nutrient-packed green fruit has such an abundance of health benefits that it’s been called “the world’s most perfect food.” Here’s why avocados–not just apples–might just be your best bet for keeping the doctor away.

Lower cholesterol. A 2016 review of studies published in Journal of Clinical Lipidology reports that eating fresh avocadoes significantly reduced levels of total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and blood fats called triglycerides. The researchers pooled results from 10 studies that included 229 men and women.

Weight control. Although avocados are high in fat (the healthy kind), people who eat them regularly are actually thinner than those who don’t, according to a study published in Nutrition Journal. When the researchers analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), they found that avocado eaters had a lower average weight (7.5 pounds less), smaller waistline (1.6 inches less), and lower body mass index (BMI) than non-consumers.

Reduced heart attack and diabetes risk. What’s more, the same study found that avocado eaters also had lower risk for metabolic syndrome. Fifty million Americans, many of whom are undiagnosed, suffer from this dangerous cluster of abnormalities that quintuple risk for type 2 diabetes and triple it for heart attack. To be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, you must have at least three of these disorders: a large waistline (also called an “apple shape.”), high blood pressure, high blood sugar, low HDL (good) cholesterol, and high triglycerides.

Anti-inflammatory benefits. In a small study published in Food & Function, healthy men who ate a hamburger with a slice of avocado had reduced inflammation and blood vessel reactivity two hours later, compared to men who only ate a hamburger. As discussed more fully in my book, Beat the Heart Attack Gene, chronic inflammation has been linked to an increasingly long list of diseases, from Alzheimer’s to heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, sleep apnea, and cancer. Two groundbreaking studies recently published in Lancet were the first to show a cause-and-effect relationship between inflammation in the artery wall and heart disease risk.

More youthful skin and fewer wrinkles. Foods that are high in carotenoids, such as avocados, may slow down skin aging, help ward off against damage from UV rays, and even protect against sunburn, according to a paper published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. The researchers also report that a diet high in green and yellow veggies is linked to fewer wrinkles, while one that includes healthy fats is linked to greater skin elasticity.