Do you love eating avocados? If you do, then here’s a piece of good news for you.
According to a new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association last month, eating avocados at least 2 servings a week can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease.
Study author Lorena Pacheco, a postdoctoral research fellow in the department of nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, said that a serving of avocado was defined in their research as “½ avocado or ½ cup of avocado, which roughly weighs 80 grams.”
The study followed 68,786 women and 41,701 men who were enrolled in two long-term government studies on risk factors for chronic disease: the Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study. Their diet was assessed using validated food frequency questionnaires at the start of the research and then every 4 years over a 30-year period.
Benefits of eating avocados
All participants were free of cancer, coronary heart disease, and stroke at the beginning of the study. But a total of 14,274 incident cases of cardiovascular disease (9,185 coronary heart disease events and 5,290 strokes) were documented over 3 decades of follow‐up.
After adjusting for lifestyle and other dietary factors, compared with participants who don’t eat avocados, those with a higher intake of the fruit (2 servings or more per week) had a 16% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 21% lower risk of coronary heart disease.
The study also found that replacing half a serving per day of margarine, butter, egg, yogurt, cheese, or processed meats with the equivalent amount of avocado was associated with a 16% to 22% lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
Why is eating avocados good for you?
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), our bodies need fat to boost energy, protect organs, produce hormones, and help with nutrient absorption. But not all fats are healthy. Among the healthy fats are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. And avocados are a good source of monounsaturated fats, along with olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, safflower oil, sesame oil, peanut butter, and many nuts and seeds.
On the other hand, saturated fat and trans fats increase levels of low-density lipoprotein, aka “bad cholesterol.” Saturated fats are typically solid at room temperature and are found in full-fat dairy products, eggs, butter, coconut and palm oils, and fatty cuts of beef, pork, and skin-on poultry.
Meanwhile, trans fats, aka partially hydrogenated oils, raise bad low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and lower good high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, which can raise the risk of heart disease, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes. The AHA said trans fats are often found in “fried foods like doughnuts, and baked goods including cakes, pie crusts, biscuits, frozen pizza, cookies, crackers, stick margarine, and other spreads.”