225 … The number of South Africans that die from heart diseases each day, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Scary figures, right?
But the good news is that as much as 80 per cent of heart disease (and stroke) can be prevented through a healthy lifestyle, such as regular exercise, quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, and, of course, a healthy and balanced diet.
One standout food that should form part of a healthy and balanced diet is avocado. This is because avocados contain key nutrients that help improve the health of the heart, like monounsaturated fats, potassium, and fibre. Avocados are also naturally cholesterol- and sodium-free, giving us many reasons to love an avocado this World Heart Day, September 29.
For good heart health, you want to aim for high levels of good HDL cholesterol, while keeping total cholesterol and bad LDL-cholesterol levels at bay. It’s also important to keep triglycerides in check, a type of fat in the blood. Looking into the impact of avocado-containing diets on various heart-health markers, when avocados replaced bad saturated fats, researchers found a drop in total cholesterol, bad LDL-cholesterol, and triglycerides, with a rise in HDL-cholesterol, too.
Adding more support to these findings, in 2020 a trial published in the Journal of Nutrition, found that eating one avocado daily lowers bad LDL cholesterol.
The variety of nutrients found in avocados offer a nutritional win that earns this amazing fruit a place on a heart-healthy menu. And this may not only improve our heart health, but other heart disease risk factors can be favourably affected too, like high blood pressure, inflammation, and blood glucose and insulin levels, as well as metabolic syndrome, fat around the belly, and weight.
SO KICK OFF WORLD HEART DAY WITH AN AVO MERRY-BERRY SMOOTHIE
You’ll need: 1 ripe avocado, peeled; 1 cup frozen berries, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries or blackberries; 1 ½ cups milk of your choice; 2 teaspoons honey (optional)
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and creamy.
Divide between two glasses, serve immediately.
- The Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa. Available from: https://www.heartfoundation.co.za//. Accessed 30 August 2021.
- Peou S, Milliard-Hasting B, Shah SA. Impact of avocado-enriched diets on plasma lipoproteins: a meta-analysis. Journal of Clinical Lipidology. 2016;10:161-71.
- Wang Li, Tao L, Hao L, Stanley TH, Huang KH, Lambert JDM et al. A moderate-fat diet with one avocado per day increases plasma antioxidants and decreases the oxidation of small, dense LDL in adults with overweight and obesity: a randomised controlled trial. The Journal of Nutrition. 2020;150:276-84.
- Fulgoni VL III, Dreher M, Davenport AJ. Avocado consumption is associated with better diet quality and nutrient intake, and lower metabolic syndrome risk in US adults: results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001–2008. Nutrition Journal. 2013;12:1. doi: doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-12-1.
- Tabeshpour J, Razavi BM, Hosseinzadeh H. Effects of avocado (Persea Americana) on metabolic syndrome: a comprehensive systematic review. Phytotherapy Research. 2017;31:819-37.
- Khan NA, Edwards CG, Thompson SV, Hannon BA, Kurke SK, Mackenzie RWA, et al. Avocado Consumption, Abdominal Adiposity, and Oral Glucose Tolerance Among Persons with Overweight and Obesity. The Journal of Nutrition. 2021. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/nxab187
- Heskey C, Oda K, Sabate J. Avocado intake and longitudinal weight and Body Mass Index changes in adult cohort. Nutrients,2019;11:61. Doi: 10.3390/nu11030691.