People who eat at least two servings of avocado each week can lower their risk of heart disease by as much as 21%, according to a new study (J Am Heart Assoc. 2022;0:e024014).
Avocados are a nutrition powerhouse packed with omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and nearly 20 vitamins and minerals. Readily available as prepackaged spreads, on restaurant menus and at fast-casual venues and coffeehouses, avocados have enjoyed a surge in popularity in recent years, hitting record highs in consumption in 2021.
The new prospective study set out to evaluate the relationship between avocado consumption and long‐term cardiovascular disease (CVD).
For the study, 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 for 30 years. At baseline, all participants were free of cancer, coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke. Researchers conducted diet assessments at baseline and every four years using validated food frequency questionnaires.
After adjusting for lifestyle and other dietary factors, results showed higher intake of avocados (≥2 servings/week) decreased CVD risk by 16% and CHD risk by 21%, compared to avocado non-consumers.
The findings provide “novel, necessary and robust evidence that higher intake of avocados is associated with a lower risk of CVD and CHD in healthy U.S. adults,” researchers wrote. “To our knowledge, the present study is the first large prospective study to examine and generate evidence on the longitudinal association between avocado consumption and CVD events.”
The study also evaluated the benefits of substituting avocado for other types of fat-containing foods.
Replacing half a serving/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 CVD. CHD risk was lowered 19% to 31% when half a serving/day of mayonnaise, margarine, butter, egg, yogurt, cheese or processed meats was replaced with the equivalent amount of avocado.
There was no benefit, however, when avocado was substituted for olive oil, nuts and other plant oils.
“These foods were considered since avocado could often be used as an alternative in the same manner (i.e., ingredient, spread, dressing, topping),” researchers wrote of the avocado swaps. “Our study provides further evidence that the intake of plant‐sourced unsaturated fats can improve diet quality and is an important component in CVD prevention in the general population.”
Rachel Adams joined Informa’s Health & Nutrition Network in 2013. Her career in the natural products industry started with a food and beverage focus before transitioning into her role as managing editor of Natural Products INSIDER, where she covered the dietary supplement industry. Adams left Informa Markets in 2019.