(HealthDay News) — Eating 2 or more servings of avocado per week is associated with a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and coronary heart disease, according to a study published online in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Lorena S. Pacheco, PhD, MPH, RDN, from the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues examined the association between avocado intake and long-term CVD among 68,786 women from the Nurses’ Health Study and 41,701 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.

During 30 years of follow-up, 14,274 incident cases of CVD (9185 coronary heart disease events and 5290 strokes) were documented. The researchers found that compared with nonconsumers, those with analysis-specific higher avocado intake (at least 2 servings/week) had a significantly reduced risk for CVD and coronary heart disease after adjustment for lifestyle and other dietary factors (pooled hazard ratios, 0.84 and 0.79, respectively). For stroke, no significant associations were observed. The pooled hazard ratio for CVD was 0.80 per each half serving/day increase in avocado intake. The risk for CVD was 16 to 22 percent lower in association with replacing half a serving/day of margarine, butter, egg, yogurt, cheese, or processed meats with the equivalent amount of avocado.

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“Our study provides further evidence that the intake of plant-sourced unsaturated fats can improve diet quality and is an important component in cardiovascular disease prevention,” Pacheco said in a statement. “These are particularly notable findings since the consumption of avocados has risen steeply in the US in the last 20 years.”

One author disclosed financial ties to the Hass Avocado Board.

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