A high-fat fruit your heart will love

A high-fat fruit your heart will love

Heart disease is the number one cause of death for men and women in the United States — heart attacks take the lives of Americans every 40 seconds.  Thankfully, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of heart attack, including eating healthy food regularly.

One of those healthy foods is a particularly delicious option. A new study that followed both men and women for 30 years showed that eating avocados twice a week results in incredible heart health benefits.  Just two small servings per week of this high fat fruit reduces the risk for a heart attack in both men and women by 21% compared to those who don’t eat avocados or rarely eat them.

Before you start putting avocado on everything you eat or going to town on guacamole and chips, there is a caveat.  To get the full benefit of protecting your heart and reducing risk for heart attack, make sure that avocados replace other high-fat foods known to increase risk for heart attack, especially butter, margarine, cheese, fatty meats and processed meats.

It’s not just about what you’re eating, but also what you aren’t eating.  So, to best protect your heart, do the avocado swap! Aim for two or more servings per week. One serving is roughly half an avocado or a half cup of mashed avocado.

Avocado swaps

  • Use mashed avocado as a spread in place of butter, margarine or mayo on sandwiches.
  • Start your day with some avocado toast! Mix mashed avocado with cumin, rice vinegar, and a splash of sea salt.  Spread onto whole grain or sourdough toast and top with tomato slices.
  • Try avocado slices in place of cheese and bacon on burgers.
  • Cut avocado in cubes or slices and add to salads.
  • Create a delicious dip for raw veggies or salad dressing by mixing 1 mashed avocado with 1 cup plain Greek yogurt, a little lemon juice, parsley, salt, and pepper.
  • Make an avocado sauce for grilled chicken or fish.  Blend 1 mashed avocado with cilantro, jalapeno, lemon juice, garlic, and sea salt.
  • Whip up your own guacamole.  Combine mashed avocados with garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, cumin, salt and lime juice.  Enjoy with one serving of tortilla chips.

Not a fan of avocados? The study also found that other foods high in healthy fats also reduced risk for heart attack. You can swap swapped for butter, cheese, fatty meats and processed meats for foods packed with healthy fats such as walnuts, almonds, nuts, nut butters, olives, olive oil, flaxseed and pumpkin seeds. You can consider these other healthy fats to be equal to avocados when it comes to heart protection.

Bottom line: If you like avocados, include them two or more days per week as part of healthy eating habits.  You can also include other healthy fats such as nuts, nut butters, seeds, olives and olive oil.  If you want the greatest heart-health benefits, do a combination of the two while limiting high amounts of butter, cheese, fatty meats and processed meats.

Want to learn more about your risk for heart disease? Take a free online quiz to learn more. 

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  1. Avocado health

  2. Re: “Just two small servings”. What is considered a “small serving”?

    • Noel, the serving is listed before the avocado swap section. A small serving would be considered 1/2 avocado or 1/2 cup mashed avocado. Two servings would be one whole avocado. Hope that helps 🙂

  3. Is the guacamole sold in plastic packages healthy also?

    • Hi Larry. Packaged guacamoles have improved over the years in decreasing additives and preservatives and sticking to mostly whole foods in their product. Most contain mashed avocado, garlic, onions, lime or lemon juice, salt, chiles or jalapeno, and sometimes tomatoes and cilantro. Vinegar or ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is sometimes used to maintain freshness. Some packaged guacs may be high in sodium, so double-check the amount if you have high blood pressure. Calories average about 100 calories per 1/4 cup, which is decent for that amount. Healthfulness is good, however, taste will vary from product to product. I personally like to make my own guacamole and adjust the seasonings and amount of juice to what I like, but the packaged guacs are convenient and make a great, healthy option for part of a meal or for a snack.

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About the Author

Heather Klug
Heather Klug

Heather Klug, MEd RD is a registered dietitian and cardiac educator at the Karen Yontz Women's Cardiac Awareness Center inside Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center in Milwaukee, WI.