Five universities worked together to conduct the largest and longest avocado research study.
According to recent research, eating one avocado every day for six months had no impact on waist circumference, belly fat, or liver fat in those who were overweight or obese. It did, however, cause unhealthy cholesterol levels to slightly decline.
The team, which included Penn State researchers, also discovered that participants who consumed avocados had higher-quality diets throughout the study.
This was the largest and most thorough study to date on the health effects of avocados, including a large number of participants and the length of the study period. While earlier, smaller studies have found a link between eating avocados and lower body weight, BMI, and waist circumferences, this one involved a much larger population.
“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, an associate professor of nutritional sciences at Texas Tech University, eating avocados regularly improved the participants’ diets’ overall quality by eight points on a scale of 100.
“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 research — recently published in the Journal of the American Heart Association — was conducted in conjunction with Loma Linda University, Tufts University, and the University of California, Los Angeles, with coordinating support from Wake Forest University.
More than 1,000 participants who were overweight or obese participated in the study’s six-month trial, half of them were encouraged to eat one avocado every day while the other half were directed to stick to their regular diet and consume no more than two avocados each 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 found that daily avocados resulted in total cholesterol decreasing 2.9 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) and LDL cholesterol decreasing 2.5 mg/dL.
The researchers said that in the future, they will continue to analyze 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 avocado.
Reference: “Effect of Incorporating 1 Avocado Per Day Versus Habitual Diet on Visceral Adiposity: A Randomized Trial” by Alice H. Lichtenstein, Penny M. Kris‐Etherton, Kristina S. Petersen, Nirupa R. Matthan, Samuel Barnes, Mara Z. Vitolins, Zhaoping Li, Joan Sabaté, Sujatha Rajaram, Shilpy Chowdhury, Kristin M. Davis, Jean Galluccio, Cheryl H. Gilhooly, Richard S. Legro, Jason Li, Laura Lovato, Letitia H. Perdue, Gayle Petty, Anna M. Rasmussen, Gina Segovia‐Siapco, Rawiwan Sirirat, April Sun and David M. Reboussin, 5 July 2022, Journal of the American Heart Association.
The Hass Avocado Board funded this research.