The avocado is not a miracle worker. But at least she tries. According to a randomised research trial, participants who ate an avo once a day for six months, saw a decrease in unhealthy cholesterol levels.
Before, smaller studies found a link between eating avocados and lower body weight, BMI, and waist circumferences. This was the largest, most extensive study to date on the health effects of avocados, including the large number of participants and length 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,” says 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.”
The research was recently published in the Journal of the American Heart Association and was conducted in conjunction with Loma Linda University, Tufts University, and UCLA, with coordinating support from Wake Forest University.
How research was conducted
Kristina Petersen, assistant professor of nutritional sciences at Texas Tech University, said the study also found that eating avocados daily improved the overall quality of the participants’ diets by eight points on a 100-point scale.
“Our findings suggest that eating an avocado per day can substantially increase overall diet quality,” Petersen says.
For the study, the researchers conducted a six-month experiment involving more than 1 000 participants experiencing overweight or obesity, half of whom were instructed to eat an avocado every day while the other half continued their usual diet and told to limit their avocado consumption to less than two a month. Fat in the abdomen and around other organs was measured precisely using MRI before and at the end of the study explains, professor Joan Sabaté, from the Loma Linda University School of Public Health.
“While one avocado a day did not lead to clinically significant improvements in abdominal fat and other cardiometabolic risk factors, consuming one avo an day did not result in body weight gain,” she says.
“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.”
The researchers said that in the future, they will continue to analyse data from the study. For example, participants were not instructed on how to eat their avocados each day, and future research could investigate how participants incorporated the avocados into their diet and whether any differences in the results are observed based on how participants ate the avo.