Avocados may help prevent cardiovascular disease

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A new study found eating two servings of avocado a week was linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. The study also indicated that substituting avocado for other fats like butter, cheese, and processed meats, may help reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease related events.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, was led by Lorena Pacheco, PhD, MPH, RDN, postdoctoral research fellow in the nutrition department of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, Mass. To discover the effects of avocados on cardiovascular events, coronary heart disease, and stroke, the study followed 68,780 women aged 30 to 35 years old and over 41,700 men aged 40 to 75 years old, for 30 years. Participant information was pulled from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.

At the start of the study, participants were all living in the United States and free of cancer, coronary heart disease, and stroke. After a 30-year follow-up, 9,185 participants had experienced coronary heart disease events and 5,290 had suffered a stroke. Researchers then calculated the participants’ avocado intake through a questionnaire asking them about the frequency in which they consumed avocados and number of servings they ate. One serving was equal to half of an avocado, approximately one-half cup.

The analysis found that participants who ate at least two servings of avocado each week had a 16 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease and 21 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease, compared to those who ate very little avocado or none at all. In addition, the study showed that when participants used avocado over margarine, butter, egg, yogurt, cheese, or processed meats there was a 16 to 22 percent decreased risk of cardiovascular disease events.

The study concluded that eating avocado over other fats may decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, coronary disease, and cardiovascular disease related events. The study’s author’s urged physicians to discuss decreasing consumption of saturated fat-containing foods with their patients.

“Replac[ing] certain spreads and saturated fat-containing foods, such as cheese and processed meats, with avocado is something physicians and other health care practitioners such as registered dietitians can do when they meet with patients, especially since avocado is a well-accepted food,” said Pacheco in a statement.