New analysis of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) , a program of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), indicates that consuming avocados may be associated with better diet quality and nutrient intake level, lower intake of added sugars, lower body weight, BMI and waist circumferences, higher “good cholesterol” levels and lower metabolic syndrome risk. These results were published in the January 2013 issue of Nutrition Journal.
Specifically, the survey data (NHANES 2001-2008, 17,567 U.S. adults ages 19 years and older) revealed that the 347 adults (50% female) who consumed avocados in any amount during a 24-hour dietary recording period had several significantly better nutrient intake levels and more positive health indicators than those who did not consume avocados. Among the avocado consumers, average daily consumption was about one half (70.1 +/- 5.4 g/day) of a medium sized avocado, somewhat higher in male avocado consumers (75.3 +/-6.3 g/day) than females (66.7 +/- 7.3 g/day).
- According to the study, Avocado consumers more closely adhered to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans than those who did not eat avocados, as measured by the Healthy Eating Index (HEI).
- Avocado consumers had significantly higher intakes of certain important nutrients including 36% more dietary fiber, 23% more vitamin E, 13% more magnesium, 16% more potassium and 48% more vitamin K than non-consumers.
- Avocado consumers also had significantly higher intakes of “good” fats (18% more monounsaturated and 12% more polyunsaturated) and total fats (11% more) than non-consumers, although average caloric intake of both groups was the same.
- Avocado consumers and non-consumers had similar intakes of sodium.
Physiological Health Measures
- Avocado consumers had significantly lower BMI values than non-consumers.
- Avocado consumers had significantly smaller waist circumference measures than non-consumers (an average of 4 cm smaller).
- Avocado consumers weighed significantly less than non-consumers (an average of 7.5 pounds less).
- Avocado consumers had significantly higher HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels.
Metabolic Syndrome Risk
The study found that Avocado consumers had a 50% lower odds ratio for metabolic syndrome compared to non-consumers. Metabolic syndrome is a name given to a group of risk factors which, when they occur together, increase the risk for coronary artery disease, stroke and type-2 diabetes.
As with most analyses of NHANES data, research findings were based on cross-sectional data from a single 24-hour dietary recall (which may be inaccurate and biased due to misreporting and memory lapses) and cannot provide cause and effect evidence between avocado consumption and improvements in diet quality. “These findings suggest an interesting association between the consumption of avocados and better nutrient intakes and other positive outcomes,” said study primary investigator Victor Fulgoni, PhD. “These observations were derived from population survey data, they provide important clues to better understanding the relationships between diet and health, and give direction to future research endeavors.”
“To this end, the Hass Avocado Board is funding additional clinical studies to investigate the relationship between fresh avocado consumption and risk factors for cardiovascular disease, avocados’ potential positive role in weight management and diabetes, and avocados’ ability to enhance nutrient absorption,” said Hass Avocado Board Executive Director Emiliano Escobedo.