A randomized controlled trial found that families with a higher consumption of avocados reported lower calorie intake and an overall healthier diet.
In a new study, researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine and Herbert Werthem College of Public Health and Human Longevity conducted a randomized controlled trial to compare potential health effects between families who consumed a low amount of avocado (three per week) and families that consumed a high allowance (14). per week) over a period of six months. All families were of Mexican descent.
They found that families assigned to avocados reported lower calorie consumption, which reduced their intake of other foods, including dairy, meat, refined grains, and associated negative nutrients, such as saturated fat and sodium.
Results published in the November 11, 2021 online issue of Nutrients, may provide insights into how to better address the growing public health issues of obesity and related diseases, particularly in high-risk communities, the authors said.
The study was funded in part by the Hass Avocado Council, which had no role in the study design, collection, analysis, interpretation of data, writing of results, or publication. The council provided the avocados used in the experiment at no cost.
“Data regarding the effects of avocado intake on family nutritional status are lacking,” said senior author Matthew Allison, MD, professor and chair of preventive medicine in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.
Recent trials have focused on individuals, especially adults, and have been limited to changes in blood indices of cardiovascular disease. The results of our experiment provide evidence that nutritional education and high intake of avocados reduce total caloric energy in families of Mexican heritage.”
In terms of nutrition, avocados are the toast of the city. Its soft and buttery interior is rich in vitamins C, E, K and B6, as well as riboflavin, niacin, folic acid and pantothenic. sourMagnesium, potassium, lutein, beta-carotene, omega 3 fatty acids.
Half of a medium-sized fruit provides up to 20 percent of the recommended daily fiber, 10 percent of potassium, 5 percent of magnesium, 15 percent of folate and 7.5 grams of monounsaturated fatty acids.
For the study, researchers enrolled 72 families (231 individuals) consisting of at least three individuals over 5 years of age, residing in the same household, free of acute chronic diseases, not following specific diets, and self-identifying as Mexican heritage. Families were randomly divided into the two assignment groups for a period of six months, during which time the two groups also received biweekly nutrition education sessions.
The rationale for focusing on families of Mexican heritage was twofold: First, Hispanics/Latinos in the United States have a higher prevalence of obesity and lower intakes of key nutrients compared to other demographic groups in the country. Second, for Hispanic/Latino immigrants, diet quality worsens as they become literate, adopting a Western dietary pattern that is higher in refined carbohydrates and animal fats.
The researchers wanted to assess whether increased but moderate consumption of a single nutrient-dense food might measurably improve overall health and reduce diet-related disparities. Avocados were chosen because they are a traditionally consumed vegetable food that was originally domesticated thousands of years ago in Mexico and parts of Central and South America.
Although the researchers did not notice any change in BMI or waist circumference measurements between the two groups during the trial, they did note that eating more avocados seemed to speed up satiety — the feeling of fullness after eating. Fats and some dietary fibres, such as those in avocados, can affect total energy intake (the amount of food consumed) by affecting digestive functions, such as introducing amounts that slow gastric emptying, regulating glucose-insulin interactions, prolonging nutrient absorption and modulating peptide hormones. The main that indicates fullness.
Interestingly, the study found that families who consumed more avocados decreased their consumption of animal protein, especially chicken, eggs, and processed meat, which is usually higher in fat and sodium. Current nutrition guidelines recommend reducing both fat and sodium intake.
But surprisingly, avocado consumers also reported lower intakes of calcium, iron, sodium, vitamin D, potassium and magnesium, which the researchers said may be linked to lower intakes.
“Our results show that nutritional education and an intervention group eating large amounts of avocados significantly reduced their families’ total energy intake, as well as carbohydrates, protein, fat (including saturated), calcium, magnesium, sodium, iron, potassium, and vitamin D,” first author Lorena Pacheco, a researcher. Postdoctoral fellow at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Research Associate at the Herbert Werthem School of Public Health at the University of California, San Diego.
“In the secondary analyzes adjusted for energy, the nutritional education and the high avocado allocation group significantly increased their intake of dietary fiber, monounsaturated fatty acids, potassium, vitamin E, and folate.”
Despite the study’s mixed results and limitations, the researchers said the trial may provide a strategy to support current public health efforts to reduce saturated fat and sodium, both of which are consumed nationally beyond dietary guidelines. In addition, there was significant adherence to study protocols by participants, confirming the value of using a single nutrient-dense plant food already familiar and preferred by participants.
“Culturally appropriate plant foot testing should extend to energy intake, by bilingual and bilingual community health workers, to other populations,” the authors wrote.
Reference: “Effects of different avocado allocations on families’ nutritional status: a randomized controlled trial group” by Lorena S. 2021, Nutrients.
DOI: 10.3390 / nu13114021
Co-authors are: Ryan D. Bradley, Julie O. Denberg, and Sheryl AM Anderson, all at UCSD.
Funding for this study came in part from the Haas Avocado Council, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (T32 HL079891-11), the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (T32 DK007703-26), and a Harvard Chan-Yerby Fellowship at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.