Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death worldwide. However, it can be prevented through lifestyle factors like diet.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends limiting 5- 6% of calories intake from saturated fatty acid (SFA), and replacing SFA and trans-fats with monounsaturated fats (MUFA) and polyunsaturated fats for better heart health.
Avocados are rich in MUFAs and polyunsaturated fats. Studies have found that their regular consumption reduces triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and total cholesterol level.
Most studies on avocado consumption have focused on cardiovascular risk factors. Studies investigating the link between avocado consumption and cardiovascular events could improve understanding of the fruit’s health benefits.
Recently, researchers have investigated the link between avocado consumption and cardiovascular events.
They found that higher consumption of avocados was linked to a lower risk of CVD and coronary heart disease (CHD).
“The […] results are significant and strengthen previous findings of avocados’ association with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease [as well as] reducing heart outcomes such as fatal and nonfatal myocardial infarction,” Bhanu Gupta, MD, cardiologist at The University of Kansas Health System, not involved in the study, told Medical News Today.
“Point to be noted: avocado consumption does not lower the risk of stroke in the study. Another point to be noted: avocado is not a replacement for healthy dietary fats such as olive oils, nuts, and other plant oils.”
– Dr. Gupta
The study was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association (JAHA).
For the study, the researchers used data from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (HPFS)and the Nurses’ Health Studies (NHS). Both studies are ongoing and began in 1986 and 1976 to examine the effects of health and lifestyle on the incidence of serious illness in male and female healthcare professionals.
For the present study, the researchers included 62,225 females and 41,701 males who did not have a history of heart disease, stroke, or cancer.
The researchers examined their medical records for incidence of myocardial infarction and stroke, dietary surveys taken once every 4 years, and risk factors such as hypertension and type 2 diabetes from self-reports and physician diagnoses. Participants were tracked for 30 years.
By the end of the study period, the researchers noted 14,274 incident cases of CVD including 9,185 CHD events and 5,290 strokes.
The researchers noted that males and females with higher avocado intake tended to have higher total energy intake and a healthier diet with more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and dairy products such as yogurt and cheese.
After adjusting for major dietary and lifestyle factors, the researchers found that having two or more servings of avocado per week was linked to a 16% lower CVD risk and 21% lower CHD risk compared to those who did not eat avocados.
They further found that replacing half a serving per day of mayonnaise, margarine, butter, egg, yogurt, cheese, or processed meats with the same amount of avocado was linked to a 19–31% lower risk of coronary heart disease.
They reported no significant association between stroke risk and avocado consumption. However, they noted that replacing half a serving per day of plant oils with an equivalent amount of avocado was linked to a 45% higher stroke risk.