Nutrition is an essential part of good health, and a varied diet can contribute to well-being and quality of life. Avocados can be part of a healthy diet and provide beneficial nutrients. A new study has found that eating an avocado every day doesn’t contribute to weight gain, may lower bad cholesterol, and improve diet quality.
Food trends and the latest diets are always changing and it can be difficult to keep up. Some experts are now focusing their research on the health benefits of certain foods. One of these foods is avocado. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association evaluated the effects of eating avocado daily compared to a usual diet. Although the researchers didn’t find much of a difference between the control group and the intervention group, they did find that participants who ate an avocado a day had lower bad cholesterol levels and improved the quality of their diet.
Cholesterol and the nutritional value of avocados
Cholesterol can come from food, but the body also makes it on its own. There are two main types of cholesterol: low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL). Keeping cholesterol, especially LDL (sometimes referred to as “bad” cholesterol), below a certain level is essential to prevent health problems such as stroke or coronary heart disease. In fact, blood cholesterol and heart health are linked.
Studies show convincingly that blood cholesterol levels are important for heart health. High levels are a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease, including cerebrovascular disease and coronary artery disease.
Research continues into what factors affect cholesterol levels and how people can make dietary changes to keep their cholesterol levels at healthy levels and improve their overall diet. One of the areas of interest is the impact of certain foods on health. For example, eating avocados can help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Avocados also contain several helpful vitamins, like vitamins C and K, and are a good source of fiber.
The benefits of an avocado a day
The study in question was a randomized trial and looked at the health benefits of eating an avocado every day for six months. Researchers wanted to see if eating one avocado a day helped people reduce visceral obesity in participants with a large waist circumference (“a waist circumference of ≥ 90 cm for women and ≥ 100 cm for men”).
They also looked at the impact on several other health outcomes, including cholesterol levels, body weight, body mass index, and health-related quality of life.
To be included in the study, participants had to have a large waist size and regular consumption of two or fewer avocados per month. The intervention group (505 participants) ate one avocado daily, while the control group (503 participants) continued their usual diet. Researchers collected food intake data at baseline, then at 8, 16 and 26 weeks, and used MRI scans to examine levels of visceral adipose tissue. That is, the body fat that covers the abdominal organs.
The researchers found that there weren’t many significant differences between the control and intervention groups. The exception was cholesterol levels. The intervention group had lower total cholesterol levels and lower “bad” cholesterol levels.
There were also minor differences in diet between the two groups, with the intervention group performing better on the Healthy Eating Index. The intervention group ate more fiber and fat and less carbohydrate and protein. Additionally, the researchers found no significant differences between the groups in weight gain, suggesting that eating one avocado daily does not contribute to weight gain.
The study found that simply adding a “healthy food” in terms of fats and nutrients, in this case an avocado, to one’s diet did not result in clinical benefits. However, there were no negative effects, and it was associated with one benefit, an improvement in overall diet quality.
Limits and future prospects
This study had certain limitations. For example, the researchers did not collect data on the participants’ medication. Then the participants were only followed for six months, and a longer period could have yielded different results, particularly in relation to visceral adipose tissue. The important message of the study is that focusing on a single food is not a substitute for an overall healthy diet. Aside from a modest cholesterol benefit, however, anything that encourages people to consume more fruits and vegetables as part of an overall balanced diet is welcome.
* Presse Santé strives to convey health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE can the information given replace the advice of a doctor.