That’s not to say that avocado eaters are necessarily better than everyone else. But a study published March 30 in the Journal of the American Heart Association (JAHA) delivered a heartfelt message for all those who regularly “enchant” their world with green and yellow goodness. The study found that people who ate at least two servings of avocados per week were 16% less likely to develop cardiovascular disease and 21% less likely to develop coronary artery disease.
However, before you tell everyone to kiss your hate, consider where these findings came from and what the study’s strengths and limitations are. This study was an analysis of what happened over several decades to 68,786 women participating in the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and 41,701 men participating in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS). . The NHS had started in 1976 and has since enrolled 121,700 registered nurses aged between 30 and 55, relatively healthy to begin with and from 11 different US states. The HPFS was created in 1986 and has since enrolled 51,529 male health professionals between the ages of 40 and 75 who were initially relatively healthy from all 50 states. Both studies didn’t just focus on eating avocados, because believe it or not, people have other activities in life. But they provided a significant amount of data for this avocardiovascular study published in YES.
After completing initial questionnaires about their health, including their diet, upon enrollment, participants in both studies were required to submit updates every two years thereafter. For the avocardiovascular study, a team from Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital (Lorena S. Pacheco, Yanping Li, Eric B. Rimm, JoAnn E. Manson, Qi Sun, Kathryn Rexrode, Frank B Hu, and Marta Guasch-Ferré) analyzed data from these cohorts, which were collected from 1986 onwards.
This study relied on self-reports of things like eating avocado. Although people are unlikely to intentionally lie about eating avocados since few schools and businesses have avocado mandates, people aren’t always good at remembering what they’ve eaten. Heck, some people might not even know what’s in their mouth right now without the help of a teleprompter. Still, the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health team began their analysis by excluding those study participants who did not answer the questions about avocado consumption. That’s because it was difficult to tell if these people didn’t respond because they actually didn’t consume avocados, accidentally skipped the questions, or somehow tried to evade the avocado chase. They also excluded anyone who already had heart disease, a stroke, or cancer, or had a total daily calorie intake that was abnormally low or abnormally high.
Over the course of 30 years, study participants had reported a total of 14,274 new cases of cardiovascular disease. Among them were 9,185 cases of coronary artery disease and 5,290 strokes. The research team found significant differences between those who ate two or more servings of good foods per week and those who ate fewer good foods. However, that alone wasn’t enough to toast the cardiovascular benefits of avocados. After all, eating avocados, or not eating avocados, is probably not the only thing these study participants did over several decades. For example, some of these people probably also had to buy and cut avocados. Therefore, the research team had to consider other personal characteristics and regular behaviors that may also have influenced their cardiovascular risk, such as age, body weight, smoking status, physical activity, use of aspirin and other medications, use of multivitamins, menopausal status, postmenopausal hormone therapy, and oral contraceptives.
After statistically adjusting for these factors, the research team still found a 16% lower incidence of cardiovascular disease and a 21% lower incidence of coronary artery disease in those who ate at least two servings of avocados per week, compared to those who ate less. However, they found no significant differences in the incidence of stroke. The analysis also found that replacing half a day’s serving of margarine, butter, egg, yogurt, cheese or processed meat with a comparable amount of avocado correlated with a 16% to 22% lower likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease. So instead of munching on that gigantic wheel of cheese while watching the latest episode of TV reality show Married at First Sight, you might want to trade in some avocado instead.
Are such results cause for celebration? Well, it wouldn’t be surprising if avocados were linked to better cardiovascular health. Avocados are high in good stuff like vitamins C, E, K, and B6, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid, pantothenic acid, magnesium, potassium, lutein, beta-carotene, omega-3 fatty acids, and fiber. The fat in avocados is also the better kind, the kind that keeps you feeling full so you don’t overeat between meals.
Nevertheless, statistical relationships alone cannot prove cause and effect. Otherwise, the solution to the current climate crisis could be to train more pirates as global temperatures have risen as the number of pirates at sea has decreased over the years as I have previously described for forbes. Correlations found in such observational studies can tend to connect two things that are not actually connected when each of those things is in fact connected to something else. For example, there might be other differences between avocado eaters and non-avocado eaters besides being super awesome, which again can skew the results. Let’s face it, avocado toast isn’t exactly the cheapest food out there. Therefore, on average, avocado eaters could have had more financial resources at their disposal. Or maybe they had healthier habits or environments that weren’t accounted for in the analysis. Additionally, those who eat avocados may in turn have consumed lower amounts of unhealthy foods. After all, a human tends to have only one mouth. So, from this study alone, it may not be clear how much value there was in what avocados offered directly versus what avocados may have prevented people from eating elsewhere. Therefore, “Avocadon’t” can’t get much more out of this latest study than it really can offer.
Ultimately, however, this latest avocadocardial study provides further evidence that including avocados in your diet could benefit your health. So there seems to be even more reason to “conspire” the green and yellow goodness. Further studies could help to better characterize the specific relationships between avocado consumption and cardiovascular health. And it may not be particularly difficult to find study participants willing to feed avocados.