According to a new study, eating one avocado every day for six months had no effect on belly fat, liver fat, or waist circumference in those who were overweight or obese. It did, however, result in a small drop in harmful cholesterol levels.
The team, which included Penn State researchers, discovered that those who ate avocados had higher quality diets over the study time.
While previous, smaller studies indicated a relationship between consuming avocados and decreased body weight, BMI, and waist circumferences, this was the largest, most comprehensive study on the health benefits of avocados to date, due to the vast number of participants and duration of the study period.
“While the avocados did not affect belly fat or weight gain, the study still provides evidence that avocados can be a beneficial addition to a well-balanced diet,” said Penny Kris-Etherton, Evan Pugh University Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Penn State. “Incorporating an avocado per day in this study did not cause weight gain and also caused a slight decrease in LDL cholesterol, which are all important findings for better health.”
According to Kristina Petersen, associate professor of nutritional sciences at Texas Tech University, consuming avocados on a regular basis increased the overall quality of the participants’ diets by eight points on a 100-point scale.
“Adherence to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans is generally poor in the U.S., and our findings suggest that eating an avocado per day can substantially increase overall diet quality,” Petersen said. “This is important because we know a higher diet quality is associated with lower risk of several diseases including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.”
The study, which was just published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, was carried out in collaboration with Loma Linda University, Tufts University, and UCLA, with coordination assistance provided by Wake Forest University.
One Avocado a day
The researchers ran a six-month trial with over 1,000 overweight or obese subjects, half of whom were directed to consume one avocado every day while the other half followed their regular diet and were encouraged to limit their avocado consumption to fewer than two per month. Fat in the belly and surrounding abdominal organs was carefully assessed using MRI before and after the trial.
“While one avocado a day did not lead to clinically significant improvements in abdominal fat and other cardiometabolic risk factors, consuming one avocado a day did not result in body weight gain,” said Joan Sabaté, professor at Loma Linda University School of Public Health. “This is positive because eating extra calories from avocados doesn’t impact body weight or abdominal fat, and it slightly decreases total and LDL-cholesterol.”
They also discovered that eating avocados on a regular basis reduced total cholesterol by 2.9 milligrammes per deciliter (mg/dL) and LDL cholesterol by 2.5 mg/dL.
The researchers stated that they will continue to evaluate data from the study in the future. For example, participants were not advised on how to consume their avocados each day, and future study might look at how people incorporated the avocados into their diet and whether there were any changes in the findings based on how they ate the avocado.