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What are the avocado benefits for women? Is avocado good for high blood pressure? Is avocado good for your heart? Read on to learn how and why to incorporate avocados into your daily routine.
Quick Facts About Blood Pressure
Did you know that 44% of women have a health condition that carries no symptoms (but lots of risk)?
What is it you may ask? High blood pressure. (Also known as hypertension).
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is called the “silent epidemic.” That’s because so many people have it (about half of adults). But because it rarely shows any warning signs or symptoms, it’s easy to miss if you’re not looking out for it.
In fact, as a teenager, I witnessed a scary moment – my grandpa having a heart attack. He clutched his chest and was struggling to breathe because of the chest pain. He was rushed to the hospital and thankfully it was caught in time. But the real issue here was that he had no previous issues – except having high blood pressure which likely contributed to this event.
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), 44% of women and 50% of men in the United States have hypertension and most don’t have it under control. In 2019, this resulted in over half a million deaths. High blood pressure can be very dangerous because it increases your risk for a heart attack, heart failure, stroke, kidney disease, and blindness.
What is blood pressure?
Blood pressure is how much pressure your heart needs to use to keep blood flowing through your vessels. You can think of it as water flowing through a garden hose versus flowing through a stiff, hard, narrow pipe. Which takes more effort? Pumping water through a garden hose or through a pipe?
That’s how blood pressure works. The more force that’s needed, the more pressure it puts on your vessels, and the more damage it can do to the pump and the vessels. This is especially true when high blood pressure persists over many years.
A normal blood pressure reading is 120/80 mm Hg. The first number (in this case, 120 mm Hg) is the systolic pressure in your vessels as your heart beats. The second number (in this case, 80 mm Hg) is the diastolic pressure in your vessels between beats.
If your blood pressure is slightly higher than these numbers, that’s considered “elevated.” However, if your blood pressure gets above 130/80 mm Hg, you may be diagnosed with hypertension.
High blood pressure usually develops over many years. It can happen as a result of diabetes or obesity, or not getting enough physical activity. It can also sometimes happen during pregnancy.
This is why regular blood pressure screening and incorporating a healthy diet and lifestyle are so important. Read on to learn how.
How to Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally Without Medication
There are several healthy lifestyle habits that can lower your risk for high blood pressure and heart disease.
- Don’t smoke.
- Get at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week (like walking 30 minutes a day for 5 days)
- Manage your stress in a positive way
- Eat foods that can help you lower your blood pressure naturally by using the DASH Diet. DASH stands for “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension”. Studies have shown it can lower blood pressure in as little as two weeks, per Mayo Clinic.
Which foods can help lower blood pressure?
In general, you want to lower the sodium in your eating patterns, and increase the potassium and fiber and healthy fats, along with calcium and magnesium. Eating this way can also help you lower your cholesterol as well.
The eating pattern looks like this:
- whole grains (6-8 servings/day)
- fruits (4-5 servings/day)
- vegetables (4-5 servings/day)
- low-fat dairy (2-3 servings/day)
- healthy fats and oils (2-3 servings/day)
- nuts, seeds, or beans (4-5 servings/week)
- meat, poultry, or fish (no more than two 3 oz servings/day)
- sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages (no more than 5 servings/week)
What are the avocado benefits for women?
The first 30 years of my life, I never had an avocado – in my Midwest life, it was not a popular option. That all changed when my friend made and taught me how to make homemade guacamole. I was hooked! I now eat them almost daily.
There are four avocado benefits for women. They are so good for healthier blood pressure and heart healthy eating because they contain:
- Potassium – which can help relax the walls of the vessels, which lowers blood pressure
- Magnesium – which also helps relax the walls of the vessels
- Healthy fats (monounsaturated) – which help with cholesterol reduction according to the American Heart Association for a healthy heart
- Fiber – which helps with cholesterol reduction for a healthy heart
Which fats are best for your heart?
All fats are not created equal. In fact, saturated fats and trans fats are actually harmful to your health when you eat them often. For the most heart-healthy fats, focus on monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats.
Saturated fats may increase LDL cholesterol (not good). So eat it in moderation (less than 20 grams a day). You can find examples of saturated fat in the chart below. You can also find it in fats that are solid at room temperature, like butter and coconut oil.
Trans fats may increase LDL cholesterol (not good). Try to completely avoid this at all times. You can find it in foods that have “Partially hydrogenated oil” in the ingredient list.
Monounsaturated fats may lower LDL cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease when used in place of saturated and trans fat. This is a great thing and choose monounsaturated fats as often as you can. You can find it in avocados and olive oil and many other foods listed in the chart.
Polyunsaturated fats may also lower LDL cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease when used as a substitute for saturated and trans fat. This type of fat also includes omega 3 fats, found naturally in fatty fish, seeds and certain oils (see chart below).
How to use avocados daily?
Avocados are best known as the main ingredient in guacamole and can also be found as a condiment on sandwiches. But there are many ways you can eat them. Here are some ideas:
- Sandwich condiment instead of mayonnaise
- Diced and put on salads
- Pureed into smoothies
- Pureed into puddings
- Even added to chocolate recipes!
They are extremely versatile!
You can even try them in this Cranberry Spinach Salad with Avocado!
How to choose avocados:
Watch this quick video to see the special trick to know how to pick a ripe avocado.
How to make avocado toast?
Watch my special cooking class to learn how to make this fast and easy. You will learn more about avocados, and my number one strategy to eating more of them, and how to pick one from the grocery store.
How to Make Avocado Salad Bowls
Virtually the only fresh fruit with good fats, avocados can help you meet both good fat and fruit and vegetable recommendations in the same bite, with 6 grams of good fats per serving (one-third of a medium avocado). They taste great and are creamy and delicious! Try them in this Harvest Bowl Salad from Avocados of Mexico.
Healthy Meal Planning
I offer monthly menu plans to help you take the hassle of meal planning for healthier meals off your plate (pun intended). Contact me to learn more, they include a grocery list and recipes! Click here to let me know you are interested.
Join my Nutrition Newsletter List for more healthy, science-based, nutrition advice from me as your credentialed, registered dietitian nutritionist by clicking here. I share practical advice and recipes each week!
Avocado Tool For Your Kitchen
To help you with learning how to cut into an avocado safely, try my favorite Avocado Tool from Pampered Chef. It will slice around the avocado and safely remove the pit for you.
One Final Thought on the Avocado Benefits for Women
Your self care is so important. As women, we tend to put ourselves as last priority. But incorporating avocados into your day is a simple way to take care of you. Now that you know many of the avocado benefits for women, I hope you choose avocados every time you grocery shop as a heart healthy way to take care of you.