A new study has been published in the Journal of the American Heart Association finding that eating two servings of avocado a week, with each serving being half of an avocado, can reduce your risk of having a heart attack by 21% compared to those who never or rarely eat avocados.

The study followed more than 68,000 women and 41,000 men for 30 years.  They were all free of cancer, heart disease and stroke at the beginning of the study and they lived in the U.S.  They completed questionnaires about what they ate every four years.

In addition to the 21% lower heart attack risk from eating 1/2 an avocado twice a week, they also found that by substituting just 1/4 cup of avocado daily for the same amount of margarine, butter, egg, yogurt, cheese or processed meat like bacon, the risk of heart attack was lowered by 16% to 22%.

What’s notable is that if avocado was substituted for other healthy plant-based fats like olive oil or nuts, there was no additional benefit.  This makes sense given that monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats like olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, safflower oil, and sesame oil are already heart-healthy oils, as are nuts, nut butters, and seeds, as well as avocados.  The benefit comes from replacing saturated fats with the healthy fats.

The American Heart Association recommends the Mediterranean diet because it emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, fish, and healthy plant-based fats.  Add half of an avocado to your meals twice a week for delicious and versatile dishes including toast, salads, dips, sauces, wraps, sandwiches, and even an amazing vegan chocolate pudding.  On top of all that, you’ll reduce your risk of heart attack!

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