Luckily, it looks like that Green Goddess obsession may indicate good things about our diets overall: A new study ties eating avocados with better diet quality, consumption of less added sugar, and lower body weight, BMI, and waist circumference. Plus, the results showed that subjects who consumed avocados had higher HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels and lower metabolic syndrome (a collection of traits and behaviors that increase risk of developing heart problems, stroke, and type-2 diabetes).
What's the Deal?
The study looked at data collected by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) — run by the CDC — between 2001 and 2008. Each of the 17,567 U.S. adult subjects (ages 19 and older) reported everything they ate for one 24-hour period. The 347 adults (half male, half female) who consumed any avocado (average consumption was about half of a medium-sized fruit) during that time had significantly healthier diets and more positive health indicators, such as BMI, waist circumference, and body weight, than those who did not consume the creamy green fruit. On average, the avocado lovers weighed 7.5 pounds less than the other subjects.
The avocado-eating group also consumed significantly more vegetables and fruit, as well as higher levels of vitamins and nutrients — 36 percent more fiber, 23 percent more vitamin E, 13 percent more magnesium, 16 percent more potassium, and 48 percent more vitamin K — than their avocado-less friends Avocado consumption is associated with better diet quality and nutrient intake, and lower metabolic syndrome risk in US adults: results form the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001-2008. Fulgoni, V.L. 3rd, Dreher, M., Davenport, A.J. Nutrition Impact, LLC., Battle Creek, MI. Nutrition Journal, 2013 Jan 2;12(1):1. . They also ate more fats (including 18 percent more monounsaturated and 12 percent more polyunsaturated “good” fats), even though both groups consumed, on average, the same amount of calories.
Is It Legit?
Probably. First of all, it’s important to note that the study was supported by the Hass Avocado Board, so there is some possibility for bias, though the study methods themselves seem to be pretty legit.
The overall sample size was fairly large, and steps were taken to minimize mistakes in dietary reporting. But there are still some weak points here. Even though the researchers used a method of collecting dietary data that helps minimize memory lapses or biases (the method they used probes the respondents for frequently forgotten foods, is conducted 1-on-1 versus electronically, and offers a good level of specificity), that's not to say the study wasn't without its methodological challenges. Since some research suggests that people have a tendency to overestimate diet quality, there’s a chance the diets reported were slightly healthier than those actually consumed Accuracy of weighted dietary records in studies of diet and health. Livingstone, M.B., Prentice, A.M., Strain, J.J., et al. British Medical Journal, 1990 March 17; 300(6726): 708-712. Comparison of self-reported and measured metabolizable energy intake with total energy expenditure in overweight teens. Singh, R., Martin, B., Hickey, Y., et al. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2009 June; 89(6):1744-1750. .
And while the evidence clearly indicates that avocado consumption is tied to healthier diets, that doesn’t mean that eating avocados will make you healthier — just that it seems people who tend to consume avocados are more likely to have a healthier diet and lifestyle overall.
When it comes to avocados, get ready for more research to come: there are several clinical studies in the works to look further into the tie between avocado consumption and risk factors for heart disease, their potential to help with weight management and diabetes, and whether they promote better nutrient absorption (though these studies will also be funded by the Hass Avocado Board, so take that into consideration when they deliver the news).
Jumpstart your health today - check out these 39 Deliciously Unexpected Healthier Avocado Recipes
Are you an avocado lover? What’s your favorite way to enjoy these beauties? Share with us in the comments below or tweet the author @ksmorin!