Avocados, aside from being delicious, can help a heart stay healthy. They are one of the best sources of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, fats that reduce cholesterol and high blood pressure.
South Africa has one of the highest rates of hypertension (high blood pressure) in the world. High blood pressure is a silent killer, responsible for 13% of deaths around the world, according to the South African Heart and Stroke Foundation. Yet at least a third of sufferers don’t know they have it.
Avocados pack a healthy heart punch that goes beyond monounsaturated fats. They are low in sodium, high intakes of which are implicated in high blood pressure, and they also contain riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, and potassium, key nutritional components associated with cardiovascular health, including hypertension management. Avos are also a good source of dietary fibre, as well as vitamins C, E, K and B6.
In one study on Mexican women looking at the association between avocados and hypertension, published in the British Journal of Nutrition in 2022, it was found that consuming five or more servings of avocado per week (one serving was defined as half an avo a week) was associated with a 17 % decrease in the rate of hypertension.
Limiting salt intake is also key to controlling blood pressure, along with cutting down on refined carbohydrates and red meat in favour of fish, poultry, dairy and plant-based foods (fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, nuts, seeds, olives and legumes). This is known as the Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. The DASH diet is not a diet per se, but rather an eating pattern that is globally recognised as an effective dietary strategy in hypertension management, with research suggesting that following the DASH diet may reduce blood pressure to a greater extent than restricting salt intake alone.
Avocados are encouraged as part of the DASH diet in the management of hypertension. So do your heart a favour and add an avo to your next meal.