Eating one avocado a day for six months was found lead to a slight decrease in unhealthy cholesterol levels. In the randomized trial, the researchers also found that participants who ate avocados had better quality diets during the study period.
While prior, smaller studies have found a link between eating avocados and lower body weight, BMI, and waist circumferences, this was the largest, most extensive study to date on the health effects of avocados, including the large number of participants and length of the study period.
"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 study co-author Penny Kris-Etherton. "Incorporating an avocado per day in this study did not cause weight gain and also caused a slight decrease in LDL cholesterol, which are all important findings for better health."
Co-author Kristina Petersen said the study also found that eating avocados daily improved the overall quality of the participants' diets by eight points on a 100-point scale. "Adherence to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans is generally poor in the U.S., and our findings suggest that eating an avocado per day can substantially increase overall diet quality," Petersen said. "This is important because we know a higher diet quality is associated with lower risk of several diseases including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers."
For the study, the researchers conducted a six-month evaluation involving more than 1,000 participants who were overweight or obesity, half of whom were instructed to eat an avocado every day while the other half continued their usual diet and told to limit their avocado consumption to less than two a month. Fat in the abdomen and around other organs was measured precisely using MRI before and at the end of 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," said study co-author Joan Sabaté. "This is positive because eating extra calories from avocados doesn't impact body weight or abdominal fat, and it slightly decreases total and LDL-cholesterol."
They also found that daily avocados resulted in total cholesterol decreasing 2.9 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) and LDL cholesterol decreasing 2.5 mg/dL.
Avocados are plentiful, available at nearly every food store, and they are extremely versatile, so they can be enjoyed as a part of a meal or as a snack and even dessert.
Lichtenstein AH, “Effect of Incorporating 1 Avocado Per Day Versus Habitual Diet on Visceral Adiposity: A Randomized Trial” Journal of the American Heart Association, 2022;