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Eating two servings of avocados a week was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, according to a recent study.

The study was published in ‘Journal of the American Heart Association’.

Avocados contain dietary fibre, unsaturated fats especially monounsaturated

fat (healthy fats) and other favourable components that have been associated

with good cardiovascular health.

Clinical trials have previously found avocados have a positive impact on cardiovascular risk factors including high cholesterol.

Researchers have believed this is the first, large, prospective study to support

the positive association between higher avocado consumption and lower

cardiovascular events, such as coronary heart disease and stroke

“Our study provides further evidence that the intake of plant-sourced

unsaturated fats can improve diet quality and is an important component in

cardiovascular disease prevention,” said Lorena S. Pacheco, PhD, M.P.H., R.D.N.

lead author of the study and a postdoctoral research fellow in the nutrition

department at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston.

“These are particularly notable findings since the consumption of avocados has

risen steeply in the U.S. in the last 20 years, according to data from the U.S.

Department of Agriculture,” she added.

For 30 years, researchers followed more than 68,780 women (ages 30 to 55 years) from the Nurses’ Health Study and more than 41,700 men (ages 40 to 75 years) from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.

All study participants were free of cancer, coronary heart disease and stroke at the start of the study and living in the United States.

Researchers documented 9,185 coronary heart disease events and 5,290 strokes

during more than 30 years of follow-up. Researchers assessed participants’ diets

using food frequency questionnaires given at the beginning of the study and

then every four years.

They calculated avocado intake from a questionnaire item that asked about the amount consumed and frequency. One serving equalled half of an avocado or a half 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

per cent lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 21 per cent lower risk of

coronary heart disease, compared to those who never or rarely ate avocados.

  1. Based on statistical modelling, replacing half a serving daily of margarine,

butter, egg, yoghurt, cheese or processed meats such as bacon with the same

amount of avocado was associated with a 16 per cent to 22 per cent lower risk

of cardiovascular disease events.

  1. Substituting half a serving a day of avocado for the equivalent amount of

olive oil. nuts and other plant oils showed no additional benefit.

  1. No significant associations were noted in relation to stroke risk and how

much avocado was eaten.

“The study’s results have provided additional guidance for health care

professionals to share. Offering the suggestion to replace 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,” Pacheco said.

“These findings are significant because a healthy dietary pattern is a

cornerstone for cardiovascular health, however, it can be difficult for many

Americans to achieve and adhere to healthy eating patterns,” said Chery!

Anderson, PhD, M.P.H., FAHA, chair of the American Heart Association’s Council

on Epidemiology and Prevention.

“We desperately need strategies to improve intake of AHA-recommended

healthy diets — such as the Mediterranean diet — that is rich in vegetables and

fruits.” said Anderson. who is a professor and dean of the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science at University of

California San Diego.

“Although no one food is the solution to routinely eating a healthy diet, this

study is evidence that avocados have possible health benefits. This is promising

because it is a food item that is popular, accessible, desirable and easy to

include in meals eaten by many Americans at home and in restaurants,” Cheryl