Health prevention comes down to a risk reduction number-game. Primary prevention serves as a term describing how to keep a healthy person healthy. At the point of primary prevention, we don’t know who is going to develop which disease so we treat a lot of people the same way trying to prevent as many as possible from getting a particular disease. In conducting this study researchers wanted to learn if eating more avocados would affect the later development of cardiovascular disease. From statistical analysis of women in the NHS (Nurses’ Health Study) and men from the HPFS (Health Professionals Follow-up Study; 1986-2016) they found a significant drop in cardiovascular disease risk accompanied avocado consumption.
The numbers game of primary prevention makes studies like these somewhat difficult and expensive. When looking a dietary intervention like this, clear answers are difficult due to how many study subjects are needed and how many years it takes to see if it made any different. We need a large number because some of the group would never develop the disease regardless of the treatment but we don’t know who will and who won’t. Again, that leaves us treating a lot of seemingly healthy people the same way.
The study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association analyzed data from the NHS and the HPFS to find that those study individuals who ate half of an avocado twice a week had a 16% lower later incidence of cardiovascular disease and a 21% lower incidence of heart disease. They looked at over 68 thousand women in the NHS and over 41 thousand men in the HPFS. These study participants were considered free of cancer, heart disease and stroke history at the time of study entry. They followed these individuals for 30 years to count how many developed various diseases while monitoring various lifestyle factors with periodic questionnaires.
Those individuals who reported higher rates of avocado consumption were documented to have these lower rates of cardiovascular disease and heart disease. They believe that the replacement of saturated and other unhealthy fats with these good fats in avocados played a role in that reduction. Avocados offer a high content of mono-unsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids along with other nutrients. The most commonly consumed avocado option in the United States is the Hass avocado which contains an average 13 grams of oleic acid (for a medium sized fruit).
Besides the good fats like oleic acid, they also contain a good mount of fiber, potassium, magnesium, and folate. Beyond these commonly recognized nutrients, they also contain other phytonutrients and biologically active compounds that act as antioxidants. In other studies, increase intake of avocados has been linked with higher good cholesterol (HDL), lower rates of metabolic syndrome, and lower body weights.
With this insight into a simple dietary change, consider how you might do a little primary prevention of your own. Adding some avocado into your weekly meal fare a couple of times per week could lower your risk of heart disease. Combining this small change with other small changes over a number of years could give you a few more healthy years later in life. Living a healthier more abundant life requires a little upfront investment of wise choices so you enjoy the payoffs later in life.
Avocado Consumption and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease in US Adults. Lorena S. Pacheco PhD, MPH, RDN firstname.lastname@example.org , Yanping Li PhD , Eric B. Rimm ScD , JoAnn E. Manson MD, DrPH , Qi Sun MD, ScD, MMS , Kathryn Rexrode MD, MPH , Frank B. Hu MD, PhD, MPH , and Marta Guasch‐Ferré PhD. Accessed April 20, 2022.
Science News. Higher Avocado Consumption Tied to Lower Risk of Cardiovascular and Coronary Heart Diseases. Published Apr 4, 2022 by Natali Anderson. Accessed April 20, 2022. http://www.sci-news.com/medicine/avocado-cardiovascular-coronary-heart-diseases-10680.html
Sanctuary Functional Medicine, under the direction of Dr Eric Potter, IFMCP MD, provides functional medicine services to Nashville, Middle Tennessee and beyond. We frequently treat patients from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, and more... offering the hope of healthier more abundant lives to those with chronic illness.