Eating avocado twice a week cuts risk of heart disease by a fifth, study finds

Avocados are a source of healthy monosaturated fats (Getty Images)
Avocados are a source of healthy monosaturated fats (Getty Images)

Eating two or more servings of avocado a week can cut the risk of heart disease by a fifth, new research has found.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, surveyed more than 68,000 women and 41,000 men on their diets every four years over a 30-year period.

Over the course of the 30 years, 9,185 heart attacks and 5,290 strokes were recorded.

Researchers identified a link between consuming healthy fats and heart health, finding that those who ate avocado frequently slashed their risk of coronary heart disease by 21 per cent, compared with those who did not.

Additionally, replacing half a serving per day of margarine, butter, egg, yoghurt, cheese or processed meats with the equivalent amount of avocado resulted in a 16-22 per cent lower risk of heart disease.

Avocados contain dietary fibre and key vitamins and minerals, including vitamins C, E and K and magnesium.

They are also a source of healthy monosaturated fats. These fats help protect the heart by maintaining levels of “good” high-density lipoprotein cholesterol while reducing levels of “bad” low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.

Dr Lorena Pacheco, lead author from the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in Boston, US, commented: “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.”

Researchers did not identify any links between eating avocados and the risk of stroke. They also found that substituting avocado for other plant-based healthy fat sources, such as olive oil, nuts and other plant oils offered no additional benefits.

Dr Cheryl Anderson, chair of the American Heart Association’s Council on Epidemiology and Prevention, commented: “Although no one food is the solution to routinely eating a healthy diet, this study is evidence that avocados have possible health benefits.

“This is promising because it is a food item that is popular, accessible, desirable and easy to include in meals eaten at home and in restaurants.”

While avocados are a staple fruit in many people’s diets – even becoming the hallmark of millennial culture in recent years – experts have raised concerns about the impact of their widespread consumption on the environment.

Although the fruit can be grown across the word, the primary producer of avocados is Mexico, as it can be temperamental to grow.

Environmental consulting firm Carbon Footprint estimates that a packet of two small avocados has a CO2 footprint of 846.36 grams, which is almost twice the amount of a kilo of bananas.

Additionally, a Mexican avocado would have to travel 5,555 miles to reach the UK. As the fruit is picked before its ripe and shipped in temperature-controlled storage, this transportation process is energy intensive, the Sustainable Food Trust said.