According to a new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, consuming just one avocado weekly may be a simple and effective preventative care strategy.
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Credit: Johnny Miller

Avocados are delicious just about any time of day (for breakfast, lunch, and yes, even in ice cream). As you've heard, they pack plenty of healthy fats and nutrients and now, according to a new study, there's even more reason to eat avocado for your good health. In fact, researchers have concluded that consuming just two servings of the fruit each week (one whole avocado or one cup diced avocado) could decrease your risk of having a heart attack by 21 percent (compared to those who don't eat the fruit), reports the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Researchers found that having a couple of servings of this healthy fat (equal to 80 grams) limits heart attack risks in women and men also when eaten in place of butter, cheese, and processed meats. To conduct their study, researchers followed more than 68,000 women and 41,000 men over a 30-year period for the Nurses' Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study. None of the participants had experienced cancer, coronary heart disease, or stroke at the start of the study; and, as a way for researchers to track participants' health overtime, each participant filled out dietary questionnaires every four years over the course of the three decades.

The team noted that eating half a serving of avocado (¼ cup) each day instead of the same serving of eggs, yogurt, cheese, margarine, butter, or processed meats, like bacon, limited the risk of heart attacks by 16 to 22 percent.

There are replacements for avocado if it isn't readily available in your area, says Dr. David Katz, a specialist in preventive and lifestyle medicine and nutrition. He recommends trading high fat and processed foods for inexpensive alternatives such as beans, chickpeas, and lentils.

To prevent heart disease overall, the National Library of Medicine shares that reducing your sugar intake, as well as avoiding processed foods and saturated fats, is helpful. The American Heart Association adds that everyone's body needs fat to increase energy, keep organs healthy, and more. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are known to protect the heart the most. Olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, safflower oil, and sesame oil, avocados, and peanut butter are all examples of monounsaturated fats.

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