Eating avocados has reduced the risk of heart attacks in both men and women, including when eaten in place of butter, cheese or processed meats, a new study has found.
Cardiovascular disease is a leading killer worldwide, taking nearly 18 million lives each year, according to the World Health Organization. In the United States alone, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that heart disease takes a life every 36 seconds.
Eating at least two servings of avocados a week reduced the risk of a heart attack by 21% compared to avoiding or rarely eating avocados. However, there was no equivalent benefit in reducing the risk of stroke, according to the study published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
A portion of avocado, which is a fruit, is defined as “an avocado or a cup of avocado, weighing about 80 grams,” said study author Lorena Pacheco, a postdoctoral fellow in nutrition at Harvard TH Chan School of said. Public Health in Boston.
“While no single food is the solution to eating a healthy diet regularly, this study has proven that avocados have potential health benefits,” said Cheryl Anderson, chair of the American Heart Association’s Council on Epidemiology and Prevention, in a statement. said. Anderson was not involved in the study.
“We desperately need strategies to improve the intake of AHA-recommended healthy diets – such as the Mediterranean diet – rich in vegetables and fruits,” says Anderson, who is also professor and dean of the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity is. Science at the University of California San Diego.
The study followed more than 68,000 women and 41,000 men enrolled in two long-term government studies on risk factors for chronic diseases: the Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study. All participants were free of cancer, coronary heart disease and stroke at the start of the studies and completed dietary questionnaires every four years over a period of 30 years.
In addition to looking at the overall impact of eating avocados, researchers did statistical modeling and found that they consumed half a serving of avocado (¼ cup) per day instead of the same amount of eggs, yogurt, cheese, margarine, butter or processed meat (such as bacon) reduced the risk of heart attacks by 16% to 22%.
“The full benefit of routine avocado consumption observed here stems from the exchange of avocados in the diet, and less healthy foods,” says Dr. David Katz, a specialist in preventive and lifestyle medicine and nutrition, who was not involved in the study.
However, the study did not find a difference in risk reduction when replacing half a serving of avocado with an equivalent serving of nuts, olive oil and other vegetable oils. It makes sense, Katz said, because the health benefits depend on what food is being replaced.
“For example, if the common exchange were between avocados and walnuts or almonds, the health effects would probably be negligible as the food has similar nutritional properties and expected health effects,” said Katz, president and founder of the nonprofit True Health Initiative, a global coalition of experts dedicated to evidence-based lifestyle medicine.
But if the avocado replaced butter and margarine as a spread, or was eaten on a sandwich instead of processed meat or cheese, “the nutritional distinctions are significant” and would be expected to change the health outcome, he added.
Although avocados are “particularly rich sources of monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, and fiber,” they can also be expensive and therefore not readily available to everyone, Katz said. Similar substitutes could include walnuts, almonds, olives, olive oil and a variety of seeds such as pumpkin and flax, he said.
Other foods to include that have major health benefits at “much lower price points,” include beans, chickpeas and lentils, “and perhaps whole grains and related seeds like quinoa,” Katz said.
PREVENTION OF HEART DISEASE
Preventing heart disease means keeping your weight, blood pressure and cholesterol under control, getting enough good quality sleep and regular exercise, managing stress, limiting alcohol and avoiding tobacco use, and eating a healthy diet that has less sugar , contains processed foods and saturated fats. , according to the National Library of Medicine.
The American Heart Association says your body needs fat to promote energy, protect organs, produce hormones, and help absorb nutrients. However, fats such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are the heart-healthy choices. Olive oil, canola oil, peanut butter oil, safflower oil and sesame oil are sources of monounsaturated fats, along with avocados, peanut butter and lots of nuts and seeds.
Saturated fats and trans fats increase levels of LDL, known as “bad cholesterol,” the AHA said. Saturated fats, such as butter, are typically solid at room temperature and are found in full-fat dairy products, eggs, coconut and palm oils, and fatty cuts of beef, pork and skin-on poultry.
Artificially produced trans fats, also called partially hydrogenated oils, increase bad LDL cholesterol and lower good HDL cholesterol, which can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. It can often be found in “fried foods such as donuts, and pastries, including cakes, pie crusts, cookies, frozen pizzas, cookies, biscuits, stick margarines, and other spreads,” according to the AHA.