UCSD study finds positive health effects of eating lots of avocado

Health

SAN DIEGO — A study from UC San Diego shows eating your fair share of avocado could lead to consuming fewer calories and an overall healthier diet.

The findings by researchers at the UC San Diego School of Medicine and the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science were published this month. In a randomized controlled trial, they compared potential health effects over six months between Mexican families that consumed a low allotment of avocados — three per week — to families that consumed 14 avocados per week.

Avocados are rich in vitamins C, E, K and B6, plus riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, potassium, lutein, beta carotene and omaga-3 fatty acids, according to researchers. Half of a medium-sized fruit provides up to 20% of recommended daily fiber, 10% potassium, 5% magnesium, 15% folate and 7.5 grams of monounsaturated fatty acids.

The 72 families, made up of 231 individuals, were randomly assigned to each consumption group. They consisted of at least three family members each over the age of 5, residing in the same home, free of severe chronic disease, not on specific diets, and self-identified as Mexican heritage.

The research team found families that ate a higher number of avocados self-reported eating a fewer number of calories. They also reduced their intake of other foods, including dairy, meats and refined grains and their associated negative nutrients, such as saturated fat and sodium.

“Though researchers discerned no change in body mass index measurements or waist circumference between the two groups during the trial, they did note consuming more avocados appeared to speed satiety — the feeling of fullness after eating,” a Monday news release said. “Fats and some dietary fibers, such as those found in avocados, can impact the amount of food consumed by affecting gastrointestinal functions, such as introducing bulk that slows gastric emptying, regulating glucose and insulin reactions, prolonging nutrient absorption and modifying key peptide hormones that signal fullness.”

The study was funded in part by the Hass Avocado Board, which donated avocados but had no role in the study, according to UCSD. Researchers chose families of Mexican heritage because they have a higher-adjusted prevalence of obesity and lower intake of key nutrients than other demographic groups in the country, researchers said.

The authors say the findings may offer insight into how to better address obesity and other diseases, particularly in high-risk communities. The full study can be viewed here.

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