Avocados contain dietary fiber and monounsaturated fat, which have been linked to cardiovascular health benefits. Previous research has shown they can help lower total cholesterol.
In a study from Harvard University, scientists found that eating at least one avocado each week may lower the risk of developing heart disease.
They found those who regularly ate avocados had a lower risk for heart disease than people who rarely ate the popular fruit.
Substituting avocado – often served on toast or as the main ingredient in guacamole – for fat-containing foods such as butter, cheese and processed meats also was linked to a lower risk for cardiovascular disease.
It’s further evidence that eating plant-based unsaturated fats can improve diet quality and is important in preventing heart disease.
In the study, the team measured weekly avocado consumption for 68,786 women, ages 30-55, in the Nurses Health Study and 41,701 men, ages 40-75, in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study.
They tracked the development of coronary heart disease events and strokes over three decades.
The team found people who ate at least two servings of avocados – equal to one cup, or a whole avocado – each week had a 16% lower risk of heart disease and a 21% lower risk of coronary heart disease compared to those who rarely or never ate avocados.
Replacing fat-containing foods with avocado also lowered cardiovascular disease risk.
Swapping avocado for half a serving each day of margarine, butter, eggs, yogurt, cheese or processed meats, such as bacon, reduced the risk for cardiovascular disease by 16% to 22%.
But swapping avocado for the equivalent amount of olive oil, nuts and other plant oils did not reap heart health benefits. Neither was there any link between avocado consumption and stroke risk.
Researchers say that monounsaturated fats are the hallmark of the oft-recommended Mediterranean diet, which includes fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, fish and plant-based fats such as olive, canola, sesame and other non-tropical oils.
This study’s results should encourage healthcare professionals and dietitians to suggest their patients replace certain spreads and saturated fat-containing foods, such as cheese and processed meats, with avocado.
If you care about heart disease, please read studies about a new cause of heart disease, and drinking coffee this way may prevent heart disease and stroke.
For more information about heart health, please see recent studies about how magnesium helps protect your heart rhythm, and results showing Thyroid hormone treatment may make heart disease more deadly.
The study was conducted by Lorena S. Pacheco et al and published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
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