WASHINGTON — Avocados lovers, rejoice! Eating a full avocado during a week could help you in the long run, a new study suggests.
According to new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, people who regularly ate avocados had a lower risk for heart disease than people who rarely ate the creamy, green fruit. Researchers found that substituting avocado for fat-containing foods such as butter, cheese and processed meats also was associated with a lower risk for cardiovascular 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,” said Lorena S. Pacheco, lead author of the study, in a press release from the American Heart Association.
Avocados contain dietary fiber and monounsaturated fat, which have been linked to cardiovascular health benefits. Previous research has shown they can help lower total cholesterol.
Using dietary questionnaires at the start of the study and then every four years, researchers measured weekly avocado consumption for 68,786 women, ages 30-55, in the Nurses Health Study and 41,701 men, ages 40-75, in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. They tracked the development of coronary heart disease events and strokes over three decades.
Participants who ate at least two servings of avocados each week had a 16% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 21% lower risk of coronary heart disease compared to those who rarely or never ate avocados.
The study indicated that one serving of avocado is equal to half an avocado.
Swapping avocado for half a serving each day of margarine, butter, eggs, yogurt, cheese or processed meats, such as bacon, reduced the risk for cardiovascular disease by 16% to 22%.
However, swapping avocado for the equivalent amount of olive oil, nuts and other plant oils did not reap heart health benefits. Neither was there any link between avocado consumption and stroke risk.
While avocados are high in monosaturated fat -- the hallmark behind the so-acclaimed "Mediterranean diet" -- it should be noted that everything should be consumed in moderation. According to the Cleveland Clinic, replacing avocados as the main source of monosaturated fats can limit you from other nutrients and benefits of other healthy-fat foods, like olives and legumes.