Green foods are usually associated with healthy and nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables, so it’s no surprise that avocado has been linked to multiple health benefits. But now, a new study from UC San Diego has revealed that, in addition to its vast nutritional portfolio, avocado has many secondary health benefits.
In collaboration with experts at the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science, the researchers compared the health effects of low avocado consumption (three per week) to high consumption (14+ per week) among 72 Mexican families.
One of the key findings was that families who ate a lot of avocados reported lower calorie intake. Due to the variety of nutrients, vitamins, and healthy fats found within avocados, these families were naturally able to reduce their consumption of meat, dairy, and grains, and thus their intake of unhealthy nutrients such as sodium and saturated fat.
The researchers believe that the unique findings of this study could be helpful in addressing issues of obesity-related diseases in high-risk communities. Mexican families were chosen due to the prevalence of obesity and low intake of key nutrients among Hispanic immigrants within the United States.
The experts wanted to investigate whether such a singular dietary change could help in solving the obesity pandemic.
The caloric reduction found in the high consumption group ultimately resulted from the nutritionally dense makeup of the avocado. The fruit contains high quantities of vitamins C, B6, K, E, and omega-3 fatty acids, in addition to fiber, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, potassium, riboflavin, and beta carotene.
No correlation was established between avocado consumption and weight loss, but it was concluded that the fats and dietary fibers found in avocados increase the feeling of “fullness” after eating.
On the other hand, the researchers found that regular avocado eaters showed a decrease in some key vitamins and nutrients, an effect that is assumed to be the result of eating a lower range of food products.
“Our results show that the nutrition education and high avocado intake intervention group significantly reduced their family total energy intake, as well as carbohydrate, protein, fat (including saturated), calcium, magnesium, sodium, iron, potassium and vitamin D,” explained first author Lorena Pacheco.
“In secondary energy-adjusted analyses, the nutrition education and high avocado allotment group significantly increased their intake of dietary fiber, monounsaturated fatty acids, potassium, vitamin E and folate.”
While the study presented a range of positive and negative effects from high levels of avocado consumption, the researchers believe that the simplicity of the single-food strategy could be very useful in supporting public health efforts regarding obesity.
The research has been published in the online journal Nutrients.