Eating This Food Twice a Week Could Lower Your Risk for Heart Disease, New Research Says
Pictured recipe: Avocado Egg Salad Sandwiches
According to a new study in the Journal of the American Heart Association, adding more servings of avocado to your routine could lower your risk of coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease—and it could have an even bigger impact if you use avocado as a replacement for some foods, including butter, eggs, yogurt and cheese.
The research took place across 30 years and included more than 110,000 health professionals who took part in the Nurses' Health Study or Health Professionals Follow-up Study. All of the subjects were cancer-free and had not experienced coronary heart disease or stroke when the study began. At the beginning of the study and every four years afterward, participants answered a food frequency questionnaire that was used to assess their eating habits. The questionnaire included a question about eating avocado, with one serving defined as half an avocado or a half cup of avocado.
"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," Lorena S. Pacheco, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D.N., lead author of the study, said in a media release. "These are particularly notable findings since the consumption of avocados has risen steeply in the U.S. in the last 20 years, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture."
After adjusting for participants' cardiovascular risk factors and overall dietary habits, the study found that those who ate a serving of avocado twice per week had a 16% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 21% lower risk of coronary heart disease compared to those who didn't eat avocado or ate it rarely. The study also used a statistical model to estimate that replacing half a serving of margarine, butter, egg, yogurt, cheese or processed meats with avocado each day could lower your risk of cardiovascular disease-related events by 16 to 22%.
In particular, the study called out bacon as a place to make a swap—meaning that if you replaced half of the bacon on your summertime BLT with some creamy avocado, you'd be doing your ticker a favor. Plus, you could always look to our recipe for BLATS (Bacon-Lettuce-Avocado-Tomato Sandwiches) for inspiration. If you normally enjoy a buttered English muffin or slice of toast for breakfast, you could try your hand at avocado toast instead, which can be as glamorous as our Avocado Toast with Burrata or as spartan as our Everything Bagel Avocado Toast. And if you normally reach for yogurt or sour cream to serve atop spicy tacos or chili, some diced avocado could help you cool down and support your heart.
"Although no one food is the solution to routinely eating a healthy diet, this study is evidence that avocados have possible health benefits," said Cheryl Anderson, Ph.D., M.P.H., FAHA, chair of the American Heart Association's Council on Epidemiology and Prevention.
This study isn't the first time we've heard good things about avocados. In 2015, a review found that avocado may reduce blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels—and other research has found benefits related to weight loss, skin health and nutrient absorption. And as the American Heart Association explained in its media release, the advice to occasionally swap margarine or butter for some avocado also aligns with the Mediterranean diet's focus on plant-based fats. (The Mediterranean diet is a pretty good choice for your heart, by the way.)
Eating a serving avocado twice each week could lower your heart disease risk by 16%, a new study found. A statistical model also found that swapping half a serving of some foods, like processed meat, butter or margarine, with avocado each day could lower the risk of a heart disease-related event. Here's some extra good news: you can sneak some avocado into just about anything, from creamy pasta sauce and egg salad to pancakes and burgers.
No matter how you get in your servings each week, you'll appreciate the food's fresh flavor, creamy texture and health benefits.