Eating a single avocado a week can make a noticeable difference in your heart health, a new study finds. Researchers found that as little as two servings of the trendy fruit weekly lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Specifically, substituting avocado for certain fat-containing foods – such as cheese, butter, or processed meats like bacon – had a link to a double-digit drop in a person’s risk for heart problems.
What makes avocado a healthy substitute?
Avocados contain dietary fiber, unsaturated fats – especially monounsaturated “healthy” fat – and other components that have an association with good cardiovascular health. Clinical trials have previously found avocados have a “positive” impact on cardiovascular risk factors including high cholesterol.
Researchers say the new study is the first to support the positive association between higher avocado consumption and lower cardiovascular events, such as coronary heart disease.
“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,” says study lead author Dr. Lorena Pacheco from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in a media release.
For the purpose of this study, researchers considered half an avocado to be one serving. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration notes that a serving is as little as one-third of a medium-sized avocado (50 grams).
The analysis found that, 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 to those who never or rarely ate avocados.
Based on statistical modelling, replacing half a serving daily of margarine, butter, egg, yoghurt, cheese, or processed meats with the same amount of avocado led to 16 to 22-percent lower risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease events.
Substituting half a serving a day of avocado for the equivalent amount of olive oil, nuts, and other plant oils showed no additional benefit. The researchers also did not find a significant link between stroke risk and avocado consumption.