Eating Avocados Twice a Week Could Lower Your Risk for Heart Disease
Continue to munch your avocado toast. According to a new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, eating more avocados could lower your risk of coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease and it could have an even bigger impact if avocados are used as a substitute for foods like butter, eggs, yogurt, and cheese. According to new research published Wednesday in the peer-reviewed Journal of the American Heart Association, eating avocados two or more times per week was associated with a 16 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 21 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease compared to rarely or never eating avocados. "Our findings add to the growing body of data that plant-based unsaturated fats can improve diet quality and are an important component in the prevention of cardiovascular disease," says the study's lead author. Using avocado instead of butter, cheese, processed meats, or other foods high in saturated fat was also linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease events such as heart disease, heart attack, and arrhythmia, according to the study. Over 110,000 health professionals who participated in the Nurses' Health Study or the Health Professionals Follow-up Study were included in the study, which spanned 30 years. When the trial began, all of the participants were cancer-free and had never suffered a heart attack or stroke. Participants completed a meal frequency questionnaire at the start of the trial and every four years thereafter to examine their eating habits. A question about eating avocado was included in the survey, with one serving being defined as half an avocado or a half cup of avocado. "Our research adds to the growing body of data that eating plant-based unsaturated fats can enhance diet quality and is an important component in preventing cardiovascular disease," says lead author Lorena S. Pacheco. After controlling for participants' cardiovascular risk factors and overall dietary habits, the researchers discovered that those who ate an avocado twice a week had a 16 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 21 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease than those who didn't eat avocado or ate it only occasionally. The study also utilized a statistical model to estimate that substituting half an avocado for half a serving of margarine, butter, egg, yogurt, cheese, or processed meats each day could reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease-related events by 16 to 22 percent. This isn't the first study to demonstrate that avocados are heart-healthy. "We know avocados have heart-healthy properties," said Lorena Pacheco, the study's primary author and a postdoctoral research fellow in the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health's nutrition department in Boston. Avocados are "nutrient-dense," according to her, containing healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and soluble fiber. Avocados, on the other hand, are not a low-calorie food; depending on the size, they normally contain between 200 and 300 calories. Avocados are becoming more expensive to keep on the menu, as prices have reached 24-year highs, with distributors paying 50 percent or higher rates. The impact of the United States' ban on avocado imports from Mexico last month has yet to be felt in this country. Although the prohibition was swiftly repealed, there were concerns that avocado supplies would be harmed, leading to increased costs. The findings provide dietitians with more reason to recommend avocado as part of a healthy diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, in the future, according to Pacheco. If you're using avocados to help you lose weight, keep in mind that they're known to be filling. Guacamole and tortilla chips, for example, compromise "those benefits," according to Pacheco, because "we need to evaluate your portion of avocado and your piece of chips." For people wishing to replace foods high in saturated fat with avocado, the researchers discovered that just a half serving each day (14 of an avocado) was linked to a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. And then there's the avocado toast. If you want to make it healthy, leave off a fatty ingredient like mayonnaise. "I've seen avocado toast recipes that use mayonnaise, which negates the purpose," Pacheco explained. "Avocado should be used instead of mayonnaise." When mashed, the avocado can be used as a spread and topped with red peppers, arugula, or even cilantro and lime juice, according to her.