6 Ways Eating Avocado Prevents Heart Disease
Avocados are one of the healthiest foods you can eat to protect yourself against cardiovascular disease, by far the most common cause of death worldwide.
For decades people were told by doctors and nutritionists to avoid avocado because it is a high-fat food. We now know this advice was dead wrong. Avocados are not fattening, do not raise LDL cholesterol and are in fact an excellent food to eat for a healthy heart.
Here are 6 important reasons why eating avocados can help you maintain your cardiovascular health, and quite possibly live a much longer life.
1. Monounsaturated Fats
The majority of the fat in avocado comes from omega-9 oleic acid. The same healthy fat found in extra virgin olive oil.
Most people would benefit greatly from replacing omega-6 polyunsaturated fats with healthy sources of monounsaturated omega-9 fats like avocado wherever they can in their meals.
Having too many omega-6 fatty acids, particularly from processed vegetable oils, has been strongly associated with promoting inflammation within your body. Heart disease is usually the most dangerous manifestation of this, but an overabundance of dietary omega-6 can negatively affect your skin and joints, promotes weight gain and is even now being linked to other serious diseases like diabetes and cancer.
Switching to avocado oil for cooking is an easy way to both reduce inflammatory omega-6 fats and increase healthy omega-9 fatty acids in your diet. Avocado oil is superior to olive oil, not just nutritionally, but also due to it’s far high smoke point and heat stability.
Diets high in monounsaturated fats have also been demonstrated to reduce damaging LDL cholesterol levels at the same time as raising good HDL cholesterol. Regularly eating avocado has even been specifically linked to a lower chance of heart attack and other cardiovascular diseases like stroke.
Avocado is an excellent source of the mineral potassium. Bananas are often praised for their potassium content but avocado actually has significantly more of this important circulatory mineral.
Potassium is vital for maintaining regular blood pressure and proper levels in your diet are known to reduce your risk of high blood pressure, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases.
Being consistently deficient in potassium can lead to an irregular heartbeat and may also cause muscle cramps as it is needed for proper for muscular contraction and relaxation.
Avocados are particularly high in the B vitamin folate, which helps regulate homocysteine levels in your blood. Homocysteine is a byproduct of protein metabolism and elevated levels of it circulating in your bloodstream are a well known risk factor for cardiovascular disease that doctors watch for.
Studies have shown that people with the highest intake of folate in the diet have a significantly reduced risk of developing heart disease versus those with low folate levels.
4. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant that protects against heart disease by reducing cholesterol oxidation. When free radicals oxidize cholesterol it can accumulate in your arteries, slowly choking off blood flow and, if levels reach too high, potentially leading to strokes and heart attacks.
Unless you’re taking a good broad spectrum and naturally sourced vitamin E supplement, with both tocopherols and tocotrienols, it’s better getting lots of it from foods like avocados, almonds, leafy greens and other high vitamin E sources.
Avocado is also a good source of beta-sitosterol, a phytosterol that can help reduce cholesterol absorption when present in a meal containing cholesterol. Several studies have shown taking beta-sitosterol supplementally can reduce bad LDL cholesterol levels in your bloodstream.
Consult a healthcare professional before using phytosterol supplements if you are currently taking cholesterol reducing medication though as it may interfere with common drugs.
Along with their healthy monounsaturated fats, one of the main reasons avocados fill you up so well is their high levels of both soluble and insoluble fiber.
Having more fiber in your diet improves digestion and elimination and helps moderate blood sugar levels. Most people would agree avocados are also a much tastier way to get more fiber than bran.
Eat Avocados for a Healthy Heart
Now you have 6 great reasons to enjoy avocados more regularly and protect your cardiovascular health. There’s much more on the many other health benefits of avocado here and, if you eat them regularly, they can even help you lose weight.
Please share this important information with your friends and remember to add a couple of avocados to your basket the next time you’re out grocery shopping.
Photo 1: Nikodem_Nijak / Photo 2: Lau Ardelean