A new study has suggested that eating two or more servings of avocado weekly was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. The study is published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
Avocados contain dietary fiber, unsaturated fats, especially monounsaturated fats (healthy fats), and other beneficial components associated with good cardiovascular health. Clinical studies have previously shown that avocados have a positive effect on cardiovascular risk factors, including high cholesterol.
Researchers believe this is the first large prospective study to support the positive association between higher avocado consumption and lower cardiovascular events, such as coronary artery disease and stroke.
“Our study provides further evidence that the intake of unsaturated fats of plant origin can improve dietary quality and are an important component in the prevention of cardiovascular disease,” said Lorena S. Pacheco, PhD, MPH, RDN, lead author. of the study and a postdoctoral researcher. research fellow in the nutrition division of the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in Boston.
“These are particularly noteworthy findings, as avocado consumption in the US has risen sharply over the past 20 years, according to data from the US Department of Agriculture,” she added.
Over 30 years, researchers followed more than 68,780 women (ages 30 to 55) from the Nurses’ Health Study and more than 41,700 men (ages 40 to 75) from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.
All study participants were free of cancer, coronary artery disease and stroke at the start of the study and resided in the United States. Researchers documented 9,185 cases of coronary artery disease and 5,290 strokes over more than 30 years of follow-up.
Researchers assessed the participants’ diets using food frequency questionnaires given at the start of the study and every four years thereafter. They calculated avocado intake based on a questionnaire that asked about the amount consumed and the frequency. One serving equaled half an avocado or half a cup of avocado.
The analysis found:
1. 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 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 21 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease, compared with those who never or rarely ate avocados.
2. Based on statistical models, replacing half a serving of margarine, butter, egg, yogurt, cheese or processed meats such as bacon with the same amount of avocado was associated with a 16 to 22 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease events.
3. Replacing half a serving of avocado per day with the equivalent amount of olive oil, nuts and other vegetable oils provided no additional benefit. 4. No significant associations were found with regard to stroke risk and how much avocado was eaten.
“The results of the survey have provided healthcare professionals with additional guidelines to share. Offering the suggestion to replace certain spreads and saturated fat-containing foods, such as cheese and processed meats, with avocado is something doctors and other health professionals, such as registered dietitians, can do when meeting patients, especially since avocado is accepted as a good food.” said Pacheco.
“These findings are important because a healthy diet is a cornerstone of cardiovascular health, but it can be difficult for many Americans to achieve and adhere to healthy eating patterns,” said Cheryl Anderson, PhD, MPH, FAHA, president of the American Heart Association’s Council on Epidemiology and Prevention.
“We urgently need strategies to improve intake of AHA-recommended healthy diets — such as the Mediterranean diet — which is rich in fruits and vegetables,” said Anderson, professor and dean of the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity. Science at the University of California at San Diego.
“While no single food is the answer to routinely eating a healthy diet, this study is evidence that avocados have potential health benefits. This is promising because it is a food that is popular, accessible, desirable and can be easily incorporated into meals.” eaten by many Americans at home and in restaurants,” Cheryl concluded.
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