Avocado, a nutritious food that also has some unhealthy saturated fats, has made its way onto our plates and into our hearts — both figuratively and literally. But how good is it, actually? A new study found that eating one avocado a day for six months brings down unhealthy cholesterol levels and improved the overall quality of diets during the study period.
While previous studies have found a relationship between eating avocados and lower body weight and waist circumference, this one found that it wasn’t the case. The researchers argue their study is the largest and most extensive one so far on the health effects of avocados, so its results should be given more confidence. But even as they don’t make you thinner, avocados could be good for you.
“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 Kris-Etherton, study author, said in a statement. “Incorporating an avocado per day in this study did not cause weight gain and also caused a slight decrease in LDL cholesterol.”
Avocados and health effects
It’s fair to say that avocados have become a growingly popular food, with people slicing it to layer on top of toast or blending the creamy fruit in smoothies. It has become a true staple in kitchens around the world — and for good reason. Avocados bring a wide range of health benefits and are also a versatile ingredient when cooking.
A 100-gram serving of avocado has 485 milligrams of potassium and about seven grams of fiber. Foods with more fiber keep us satiated longer than low-fiber foods, making avocados a good choice for people who are watching their weight. Avocado is also rich in folate, a B vitamin important for brain function and healthy pregnancies.
For this new study, researchers at Penn State did a six-month experiment involving over 1,000 participants experiencing overweight or obesity. Half were told to eat an avocado every day while the other half kept their usual diet, limiting avocado consumption to less than two a month. Fat in the abdomen was measured before and after the study.
“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,” Joan Sabaté, study author, said in a statement. “This is positive because eating extra calories from avocados doesn’t impact body weight.”
The study found that eating avocados daily improved the overall quality of the participants’ diets by eight points on a 100-point scale. Additionally, the study showed daily avocados resulted in total cholesterol-lowering 2.9 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) and LDL cholesterol (known as the “bad” cholesterol) decreasing 2.5 mg/dL.
For the researchers, there’s still a lot more to learn about avocados and diets. For example, participants weren’t told how to eat their avocados each day, and future studies could look at how participants incorporated the avocados into their diets and whether differences in the results are seen based on how the avocados were eaten.
The study was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.