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One Avocado a Day Improves Diet in an Unexpected Way


Avocados are full of important nutrients

We wrote about past research on avocados, which showed they help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. But this new study suggests that the benefits of eating avocados may go far beyond that.

“Avocados are a nutrient-dense food, containing a lot of fibre and other important nutrients. We wanted to see if regular intake of this food would lead to an increase in diet quality. Previous observational research suggests avocado consumers have higher diet quality than non-consumers. So, we developed this study to determine if there is a causational link between avocado consumption and overall diet quality,” said the study’s lead author Kristina Petersen, PhD, from Penn State University.

The study included over 1,000 participants split into two groups. One group continued their usual diet without avocados. The other group was instructed to include one avocado per day into their diet.

Researchers followed the participants for 26 weeks and conducted phone interviews to determine what they ate in the previous 24 hours. They also evaluated their diets using the Healthy Eating Index to see how well they adhered to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Avocado
Studies suggest that eating an avocado per day can substantially increase overall diet quality.

Avocados improved adherence to dietary guidelines

“We found that the participants who had an avocado per day significantly increased their adherence to dietary guidelines. This suggests that strategies, like eating one avocado per day, can help people follow dietary guidelines and improve the quality of their diets,” Petersen said.

This is important because poor diet quality is a significant risk factor for conditions like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, and other preventable diseases.

Avocados crowded out unhealthier foods

The improved diet was not a surprising outcome. Adding a healthy food such as an avocado is likely to produce suchresults. But after a closer inspection, the researchers found that the diet of the avocado group improved in other ways, too. The researchers saw the following improvements:

  • More vegetables
  • Less added sugar
  • Less refined grains
  • More healthy fats and less unhealthy fats
  • Less sodium

“We determined that participants were using avocados as a substitute for some foods higher in refined grains and sodium. In our study, we classified avocados as a vegetable and did see an increase in vegetable consumption attributed to the avocado intake but also participants used the avocados to replace some unhealthier options,” Petersen said.

How to add avocados in a tasty way?

It’s very encouraging to see that a simple intervention such as adding one avocado to your diet can have such a large positive effect on what you eat and, therefore, on your disease risk. If you’re considering giving this experiment a try, here are a few ideas for how to introduce avocados into your diet.

Baked avocado boats with eggs are a very popular avocado-based dish that can serve as any of your daily meals or even as a snack. And it looks really cool! You can check out the recipe in our previous article. For a great breakfast option, you can try these sunny-side-up eggs with avocado and feta. The recipe is really quick to make and super tasty. Both of these meals are filling on their own so there’s no need for extra refined grains or added sugar, and that’s exactly how your diet improves one meal at a time.

Avocados are also the main ingredient for the famous guacamole. You can use it as a dip, spread or salad. It goes wellwith so many meals that it’s sure to be the main way you include avocados during your avocado-a-day experiment.



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