The researchers devised a 6-month-long experiment involving more than 1,000 overweight or obese participants. One-half of the participants ate 1 avocado every day while the other half limited their avocado consumption to fewer than 2 per month. The researchers measured participants’ belly fat as well as organ fat using a very precise MRI measurement and they did blood tests before and at the end of the study. Each participant was asked to recall their 24-hour dietary intake at baseline and at 8, 16, and 26 weeks to evaluate how their overall diet is changing as a result of this intervention.
Avocados lower bad cholesterol
This was the largest and most extensive study to date on the health effects of avocados. Unlike previous studies, it found no differences in weight and fat between the two groups of participants. This is a great result, especially because the avocado group had a lowered “bad” LDL cholesterol.
“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. 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,” said Joan Sabaté, a co-author of the study.
The results showed that daily avocados decreased total cholesterol by 2,9 mg/dL and LDL cholesterol by 2,5 mg/dL. Elevated LDL cholesterol has been established as one of the main risk factors for heart disease. This simple act of eating an avocado a day could help people get under the recommended 100 mg/dl levels for LDL cholesterol.
Avocados improve overall diet quality
The study also found that eating avocados daily improved the overall quality of the participants’ diets by eight points on a 100-point scale. The group eating an avocado a day had a higher intake of fibre and fat and a lower intake of carbohydrates and protein.
“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. 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,” said co-author Kristina Petersen.
It is important to note that the participants were only observed for over 6 months. A longer time period may have shown different results, especially in terms of organ fat which takes longer to change. But even these results make an appealing case for avocados.
Ways to add avocados into your diet
If you’re thinking of ways to include avocados more often, you can check out some of our recipes such as Baked egg avocado boats or Sunny-side up eggs with avocado and feta. Guacamole is another popular way to enjoy avocados. But this tasty fruit works great on toast, in salads, in soups or even just seasoned with some salt and pepper.