Keep eating that avocado toast. Eating avocados two or more times a week was associated with a 16 per cent lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 21 per cent lower risk of coronary heart disease, compared to rarely or never eating avocados, according to new research published in the peer-reviewed Journal of the American Heart Association . (A serving of the fruit is about half an avocado or half a cup.) Using avocado instead of butter, cheese, processed meats or other foods higher in saturated fat was also associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease events , including heart disease, heart attack and arrhythmia, the study found. Researchers studied roughly 68,800 women aged 30 to 55, and 41,700 men aged 40 to 75, in the US over 30 years, who answered food questionnaires as part of their involvement in two separate studies: the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. Why exactly are avocados so good for you? Dietitians explain Avocado intake was analysed, along with 9,185 coronary heart disease events and 5,290 strokes documented during more than 30 years of follow-up. Researchers did not find a significant association between the amount of avocados eaten and stroke risk . While avocados were found to be a healthier substitute for margarine, butter and other foods with more saturated fat, they were not found to provide an associated health benefit when used in place of olive oil, nuts or other plant oils. This isn’t the first research to suggest avocados are good for the heart. “We know avocados impart heart-healthy benefits,” said Lorena Pacheco, lead author of the study and a postdoctoral research fellow in the nutrition department at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in Boston. Avocados are nutrient-rich, with healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and soluble fibre, Pacheco said. However, avocados are not a low-calorie food: a whole one typically contains between 200 and 300 calories, depending on the size. Going forward, the findings give dietitians more reason to suggest including avocados as part of a healthy diet, such as the Mediterranean diet or Healthy US-Style Dietary Pattern, Pacheco said. “It is certainly not a ‘magical bullet’ in itself,” she said. Be mindful of avocados, which are known to be filling, if you are using them as an ingredient to help with weight control. For instance, guacamole and tortilla chips compromise those benefits “since we need to consider your portion of avocado and your portion of chips”, Pacheco said. For those looking to use avocado as a substitute for foods high in saturated fat, the researchers found that just a half serving a day (one quarter of an avocado) was associated with lower cardiovascular disease risk. Miracle of the human heart, and how to keep yours healthy And as for that avocado toast, skip a fatty additive like mayonnaise if you want it to be healthier. “I have seen some avocado toast recipes made with mayonnaise which defeats the purpose,” Pacheco said. “We should be using avocado in lieu of mayonnaise.” When mashed, avocados serve as a spread and can be topped with red peppers, arugula (rocket), or even cilantro and lime juice, she said. Keeping avocados on the menu may cost a bit more – prices have hit 24-year highs amid tightening supplies in Mexico, the world’s largest producer. The country harvested about 2.4 million tons of avocados in 2020, accounting for 34 per cent of global production. Like what you read? Follow SCMP Lifestyle on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram . You can also sign up for our eNewsletter here .