Avocados and Cardiovascular Health Research
“There is a growing body of evidence that suggests avocados support heart health. Fresh Avocados – Love One Today is pleased to collaborate with ACLM’s Corporate Roundtable and provide complimentary resources to both patients and clinicians working to establish more nutritious and heart-healthy dietary patterns.” – Love One Today Public Relations and Advertising Manager Amanda Izquierdo, MPH, RD, LDN.
Despite many advancements in understanding and treating cardiovascular disease (CVD), it remains the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States, taking a life every 34 seconds, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A growing body of evidence suggests that 80% of premature heart disease and strokes are preventable with sufficiently-dosed lifestyle behavior changes in areas such as avoidance of harmful substances like smoking, physical activity and diet. ACLM recommends a whole-food, plant-predominant eating pattern for the prevention, treatment, and reversal of many chronic diseases.
Love One Today, an initiative to advance awareness and understanding of the nutrition research on avocado consumption, joined ACLM’s Corporate Roundtable in 2022 and is empowering lifestyle medicine by providing resources that make it easy for health professionals help patients who want to improve their health and make diet-related lifestyle behavior changes with healthy foods like avocado.
Additionally, avocados are a good source of fiber. Soluble fiber represents 35% of the fiber in avocados, which helps prevent the digestive tract from absorbing cholesterol and reduces the risk of heart disease. Avocados also contribute plant compounds including phytosterols (38 milligrams of beta-sitosterol per 50-gram serving), which may help maintain healthy cholesterol levels as well as carotenoids (136 micrograms of lutein per 50-gram serving).
There are plenty of reasons and ways fresh avocados can be part of a heart-healthy diet, according to Love One Today. Avocados are a source of unsaturated fat and virtually the only fruit with these “good” fats. Unsaturated fat helps the body absorb fat-soluble nutrients without raising LDL cholesterol. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourages substituting saturated fat with unsaturated fats.
Here are 3 recent studies:
- Avocado Consumption and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease in US Adults, Journal of the American Heart Association, 2022 – First large prospective study linking avocado intake to lower CVD risk
- Effect of Incorporating One Avocado Per Day Versus Habitual Diet on Visceral Adiposity: A Randomized Trial, Journal of the American Heart Association, 2022 – One of the most extensive clinical trials of its kind assessing daily avocado consumption, weight-related measures, and markers of cardiometabolic risk
- Avocado Consumption is Associated with a Reduction in Hypertension Incidence in Mexican Women, British Journal of Nutrition, 2022 – Prospective study evaluating avocado intake and the impact on blood pressure
“We know that shifting eating patterns can be one of the biggest drivers of reducing risk for heart disease,” said Love One Today Public Relations and Advertising Manager Amanda Izquierdo, MPH, RD, LDN. “There is a growing body of evidence that suggests avocados support heart health. Fresh Avocados – Love One Today is pleased to collaborate with ACLM’s Corporate Roundtable and provide complimentary resources to both patients and clinicians working to establish more nutritious and heart-healthy dietary patterns.”
Explore a collection of resources including accredited webinars and podcasts, educational handouts, nutrition tips, meal plans, and more to help prepare you to counsel your patients on cardiovascular health. Select credential holders can earn CE credits for listening to the webinars and podcasts.
As he made changes to his own lifestyle habits, Dr. Turner started talking to a nutritionist colleague at the Mayo Clinic who mentioned ACLM, the nation’s medical professional society representing clinicians dedicated to a lifestyle medicine. ACLM defines lifestyle medicine as the evidence-based use of a predominantly whole food, plant-based diet, physical activity, restorative sleep, social connection, avoidance of risky substances and stress management. ACLM, which represents more than 7,000 physicians and other clinicians, is the only organization that educates, equips, and supports certification of physicians and other clinicians in lifestyle medicine.
Dr. Turner began talking to patients about their lifestyle habits and explaining the evidence that supported how changes could improve their whole health. During clinical rounds, he visited patients with lifestyle-health related books that could benefit their specific health ailment. Resident doctors accompanying him on rounds would say afterward “I’ve never seen anyone do that before. Can you show me the books you’re using?”
For patients who committed to lifestyle behavior changes, the results were at times astonishing. Patients suffering from severe hypertension enjoyed dramatic decreases in blood pressure and, subsequently significantly reduced the antihypertension medication they required. Patients with chronic kidney disease, diabetes or advanced atherosclerotic vascular disease stabilized their kidney function and did not progress to the point of needing dialysis. Patients with a history of kidney stones were able to prevent stone growth and new stone formation.
At times, Dr. Turner took good-natured ribbing from colleagues — “Here comes Turner with his veggies.” But as health care spending soared, the pandemic raised awareness of the risks of chronic lifestyle-related disease and the evidence grew proving the therapeutic power of lifestyle medicine, interest in the field exploded. ACLM, which had 500 members in 2014, has grown to more than 9,000 practicing in the field. Large health systems are increasingly integrating a therapeutic dose of lifestyle medicine into patient care, employee health and their broader communities.
“Interest in lifestyle medicine is growing not just among clinicians and health systems but among patients who are increasingly understanding that they can make a big difference in their health with small lifestyle changes,” said ACLM President Dr. Cate Collings, MD, MS, FACC, DipABLM. “Dr. Turner’s generous gift to ACLM will help more clinicians gain the knowledge and skills to practice lifestyle medicine and partner with their patients take control of their heath.”
The time is now for lifestyle medicine to become the foundation of health and health care, Dr. Turner said. He hopes his gift to ACLM can help build that foundation.
“ACLM has really become my intellectual home,” Dr. Turner said. “I truly believe lifestyle medicine is the most positive thing happening in the medical space. I am excited to do my part to keep that positive momentum going.”
Fresh Avocados - Love One Today® is a Corporate Roundtable Member
ACLM’s Corporate Roundtable is a convening of organizations and companies united in a shared commitment to address the burden of chronic disease through novel products and solutions focused on health care transformation.
The HEAL scholarship was created to provide an avenue for BIPOC healthcare professionals to explore lifestyle medicine as a specialty and help diversify the lifestyle medicine workforce.
Addressing each patient’s diabetes is more in-depth than a standard diagnosis. Instead, residents and attending physicians educate patients about evidence-based lifestyle medicine that, if prescribed intensively, could reverse their diagnosis.
The University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville (SOMG), in partnership with the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM), offers its Lifestyle Medicine Education (LMEd) curricular resources free to other medical and health professional schools.