Eating two or more servings of avocados per week was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, and replacing avocados with certain fat-containing foods such as butter, cheese, or processed meats was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease events, according to a new. Research .
Avocados contain dietary fiber, unsaturated fats, especially monounsaturated fats (healthy fats), and other beneficial components that have been associated with good cardiovascular health. Clinical studies have previously found that avocados have a positive impact on cardiovascular risk factors, including high cholesterol.
The researchers believe this is the first large prospective study to support the positive association between increased avocado consumption and fewer cardiovascular events, such as coronary heart disease and stroke.
“Our study provides further evidence that the intake of unsaturated plant-based fats can improve diet quality and is an important component in the prevention of cardiovascular disease,” said Lorena S. Pacheco, Ph.D., MPH, RDN. , lead author of the study and a postdoctoral fellow in the nutrition department at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in Boston.
“These are particularly remarkable results as avocado consumption has soared in the United States over the past 20 years, according to data from the US Department of Agriculture.”
For 30 years, researchers followed more than 68,780 women (aged 30 to 55) from the Nurses’ Health Study and more than 41,700 men (aged 40 to 75) from the Nursing Follow-up Study. health professionals.
All study participants were cancer, coronary heart disease, and stroke free at the start of the study and lived in the United States. Researchers documented 9,185 coronary heart disease events and 5,290 strokes during more than 30 years of follow-up. The researchers assessed the participants’ diets using food frequency questionnaires provided at the start of the study and then every four years.
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They calculated avocado intake from a questionnaire that asked the amount consumed and how often. One serving was equivalent to half of an avocado or half a cup of avocado.
The analysis found:
- After considering a wide range of cardiovascular risk factors and overall diet, study participants who ate at least two servings of avocado each week had a 16% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 21% lower risk of coronary heart disease, compared to those who never or rarely ate avocado.
- Based on statistical models, replacing half a day serving of margarine, butter, eggs, yogurt, cheese, or processed meats such as bacon with the same amount of avocado was associated with a 16% to 22% lower risk of cardiovascular diseases.
- Replacing half a day serving of avocado with the equivalent amount of olive oil, walnuts, and other vegetable oils showed no additional benefit.
- No significant associations were noted in relation to the risk of stroke and the amount of avocado consumed.
The study results provide additional guidance for healthcare professionals to share. Offering the suggestion to “replace certain spreads and foods containing saturated fat, such as cheese and processed meats, with avocado is something doctors and other health care professionals such as registered dieticians can do when they meet patients, especially since avocado it’s an accepted food, “Pacheco said.
The study is in line with the American Heart Association’s guidance for following the Mediterranean diet, a dietary model that focuses on fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, fish, and other healthy, fatty vegetable foods such as olive, canola, sesame and other non-fat foods. tropical. oils.
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“These findings are significant because a healthy dietary pattern is the cornerstone for cardiovascular health, however, it can be difficult for many Americans to achieve and adhere to healthy eating patterns,” said Cheryl Anderson, Ph.D., MPH, FAHA, president of the Council on Epidemiology and Prevention of the American Heart Association.
“We desperately need strategies to improve the intake of AHA-recommended healthy diets, such as the Mediterranean diet, which are rich in fruits and vegetables,” said Anderson, professor and dean of the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human. Longevity Science from the University of California at San Diego.
“While no food is the solution to eating a healthy diet on a regular basis, this study is proof that avocados have possible health benefits. This is promising because it is a popular, accessible, desirable, and easy-to-include food that many Americans eat at home and in restaurants. “
This study was published in Journal of the American Heart Association.