An avocado a day | health rhythm

Avocados provide a host of nutritional benefits, including healthy fats, fiber, potassium, and vitamins E, B, and C. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

Avocado lovers, take heart.

Eating two or more servings of avocado a week can reduce the risk of heart attack in men and women, according to new research. Substituting avocado for less healthy foods may be even more beneficial.

The 30-year study followed more than 110,000 health professionals. Participants who ate two servings of avocado, about half a cup, each week had a 16% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 21% lower risk of coronary heart disease.

Replacing half a daily serving of margarine, butter, eggs, yogurt, cheese or processed meats such as bacon with avocado was linked to a 16 percent to 22 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease events, such as heart attack.

While the study had limitations, was based on a group of mostly white health professionals, and relied on self-reports, the results underscore the health benefits of avocados, said Holly Dykstra, a cardiovascular dietitian in preventive cardiology and rehabilitation. at Spectrum Health.

As part of a well-balanced diet, avocados pack a powerful nutritional punch, he said.

Rich in nutrients

“Avocado is really great because it has a ton of nutrients bite-by-bite,” Dykstra said. “They are really rich in nutrients.”

Take fat, for example.

The Dietary Guidelines recommend that, generally speaking, about 15% to 35% of our calories come from fat. Most of them, however, should be of the unsaturated variety.

Avocados have more monounsaturated, or healthy, fats, Dykstra said. Replacing saturated fats like butter or deli meat with avocados can promote heart health by improving cholesterol.

These heart-healthy fats also help us feel full, which can help us feel more satisfied between meals, he said.

Avocados also contain 3 grams of fiber per serving.

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Many of us can feel a bit like Goldilocks when it comes to finding the perfect avocado.

Very soft? Eat it today or store it in the refrigerator crisper drawer.

Too hard? Let it ripen in a cool, dark place, or speed up the process by placing it in a paper bag with gassing fruit like an apple, banana, or kiwi.

Just fine? Enjoy. Add lemon juice to the other half to slow down the browning process. Another option is to blend ripe avocados and freeze them in ice cube trays for future use.

“Fiber is incredibly helpful for heart health, but also for blood sugar and energy levels,” Dykstra said.

The soluble fiber found in avocados also promotes digestive health and may also help lower cholesterol.

Avocados also have a ton of vitamins and minerals, he said.

Potassium nears the top of the list when it comes to heart health.

“It’s helpful in regulating blood pressure and it’s also helpful for the nervous system,” Dykstra said. “When we eat an adequate amount of potassium, it can help protect us against stroke and high blood pressure.”

Other major players include vitamins E, B, and C, all of which boost our energy and immune systems.

Need another reason to up your avocado intake? They are also high in antioxidants, which can reduce the risk of some chronic diseases and can also improve heart and brain health.

Beyond avocado toast

Avocados also taste good. Other healthy foods, like kale and Brussels sprouts, have seen a resurgence, but avocados may be among the most popular choices in the produce aisle right now.

And when it comes to adding them to your diet, the sky’s the limit, Dykstra said.

You can swap out the butter on your toast with mashed avocado or replace the deli meat or cheese with avocado slices.

Other Suggestions: Add avocados to fish or bean tacos to increase flavor and satiety, or blend them into smoothies. You can also chop them on top of your soup or baked potato.

Of course, avocados also inject color and flavor into salads and cereal bowls. Like neutral paint colors and her trusty black cardigan, an avocado goes with just about anything.

“It’s pretty versatile flavor-wise,” Dykstra said.

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