Avocados: who knew they could potentially save our lives?

Some time ago Grace and I were at a photoshoot and everyone was talking about mobile phones. They said, “What did we do before mobile phones?” as they sent a text message to their next appointment saying they were running late. Grace and I just looked at each other and quietly said, we would be on time because we had to be. Of course, we got some patronising looks as people thought, ‘that’s because they are old’.

Then last week I read that two or more servings of avocados every seven days will reduce the chance of coronary disease by more than a fifth, according to Harvard scientists. Of course the moment we read Harvard scientists we know it must be true. And I found myself saying, what did we do before avocados? Suddenly they became this big thing that we could not live without and had to be part of our healthy eating diet.

Avocados: who knew they could potentially save our lives?

Avocados are cultivated in tropical and Mediterranean climates of many countries, with Mexico as the leading producer of avocados in 2019, supplying 32% of the world total.

Recently I heard that there is currently a world shortage of avocados. Maybe that’s because others have heard the report from Harvard before us and have bought up all the avocado stock. I am afraid that I had to Google how much one avocado is nowadays, not because I don’t buy them but they are part of my weekly shop and I have no idea how much everything is individually but I do know that my weekly shop is increasing faster than the speed of….anything. Rishi Sunak recently got harangued for not knowing the price of a bottle of milk. This was an unfair judgement I felt as I am unable to recall the price of all of my kitchen staples. Maybe there should be a quiz show on supermarket prices and let’s see how well those who admonished Rishi would get on.

Anyway back to the life-saving avocados. They cost anything from £1.10 to £2.00. Seriously I doubt my mother ever bought an avocado and it certainly didn’t appear in any of the meals she produced when I was young. And she lived until she was 88 years and had a strong heart. So if she had eaten two avocados a week at an approximate cost of £3 per week she could have lived until she was 105 years and would therefore still be alive. Now that is where I get interested because that really is impressive. It would not have impressed my mother – she was never easily impressed.

Avocados: who knew they could potentially save our lives?
Photo by Gil Ndjouwou on Unsplash

So eating one avocado a week cuts the risk of heart disease by a fifth, according to Harvard scientists. Two or more servings weekly – equivalent to one whole avocado – appears to slash the risk of coronary heart disease by 21%, compared with people who do not eat avocados.

Avocados contain high levels of fibre, healthy fats and other key nutrients, including magnesium and vitamins C, E, and K. They have become increasingly popular in recent years, often served on top of sourdough bread alongside poached eggs.

You see avocados have taken over our lives. Bacon butties have had to take a bit of ‘gardening leave’ whilst a crushed avocado on sourdough has become a breakfast and lunch staple. I have also been finding that skincare products include avocado in their list of ingredients extolling its virtues as something that will make me look younger. Since I am now going to live for decades more, then I will need avocados inside and out. Oh wow, my weekly shop is getting more expensive as I write.

Previous studies have shown that eating avocados regularly has various health benefits, including reducing cholesterol, body weight, BMI and waist size. 

In the new study, more than 100,000 people were followed for several years to see how their avocado consumption impacted long-term health conditions. 

They found that as well as a 21 per cent reduction in the risk of coronary heart disease, there was a 16 per cent drop in the likelihood of developing any other form of cardiovascular disease. 

Dr Lorena Pacheco, the lead author of the study from the Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health in Boston, said: “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. These are particularly notable findings since the consumption of avocados has risen steeply in the US in the last 20 years, according to data from the US Department of Agriculture.”

Sadly this study also found no links between eating avocado and the risk of stroke.

I have just posed the idea to my husband that since I have been eating avocados for decades then I may live until I am 150 years old. There was a groan of despair from him. I may find him throwing avocados away before I can eat them!

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Looking for a fresh zingy avocado recipe? Try this one