Avocado Consumption May Reduce Cardiovascular Risk

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Avocado Consumption May Reduce Cardiovascular Risk

Regular avocado consumption is linked to a lower risk for cardiovascular disease, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Avocado consumption in the United States has skyrocketed in recent decades — most likely due to a combination of factors including changing demographics, increased health awareness, and effective marketing. U.S. avocado consumption has grown from less than 3 pounds per person in 2001 to over 8 pounds per person in 2018, with no signs of slowing demand since then, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Avocados offer a number of nutritional benefits, according to Avocados From Mexico, a marketing organization. They’re practically unique among fruits in their high fat content, with one-third of an avocado supplying about 5 grams of healthy monounsaturated fat and only about 1 gram of saturated fat. They also contain almost no sugar, but do contain significant amounts of fiber, potassium, vitamin E, vitamin K, and B vitamins.

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Previous studies have shown that avocado consumption may be beneficial in ways that are helpful for people with diabetes. When substituted for carbohydrates in your diet, avocados have been shown to help suppress hunger. And one analysis of several studies showed that consuming avocados may help prevent metabolic syndrome, a cluster of risk factors that is linked to an increased risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

For the latest study, researchers looked at data from 68,786 women and 41,701 men who participated in long-running studies examining the link between dietary choices and health outcomes. Participants had no history of cancer, coronary artery disease (CAD), or stroke at the beginning of the study period. Each participant completed a detailed food frequency questionnaire at the beginning of the study, then every four years over a follow-up period lasting as long as 30 years (some participants died or dropped out of the study before this).

Avocado consumption linked to decreased cardiovascular risk

Over the follow-up period, there were a total of 14,274 cardiovascular incidents — events related to coronary artery disease or strokes. After adjusting for certain lifestyle and dietary factors other than avocado consumption, the researchers found that compared with participants who didn’t consume avocados, those who consumed at least two servings per week had a 16% lower risk for cardiovascular disease in general and a 21% lower risk for coronary artery disease. Each additional half-serving per day of avocado was linked to a 20% reduction in overall cardiovascular risk, demonstrating that avocado consumption itself — rather than some other factor — was likely responsible for the benefits seen among avocado eaters. What’s more, replacing a half-serving per day of butter, margarine, cheese, eggs, yogurt, or processed meats with a half-serving of avocado was linked to 16% to 22% lower risk for cardiovascular disease, depending on the food being substituted. No link was seen between avocado consumption and stroke risk.

“The replacement of certain fat-containing foods with avocado could lead to lower risk of [cardiovascular disease],” the researchers concluded. For some ideas about how to incorporate avocados into your diet, check out these recipes for Avocado and Blueberry Fruit Salad, Avocado Salsa, and Avocado Summer Soup.

Want to learn more about the benefits of avocados? Read “An A+ for Avocados.”

Quinn Phillips

Quinn Phillips

Quinn Phillips on social media

A freelance health writer and editor based in Wisconsin, Phillips has a degree from Harvard University. He is a former Editorial Assistant for Diabetes Self-Management and has years of experience covering diabetes and related health conditions. Phillips writes on a variety of topics, but is especially interested in the intersection of health and public policy.

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