Green gold: People who eat more avocados consume fewer calories

Avocados are pictured as volunteers from a culinary school attempt to set a new Guinness World Record for the largest serving of guacamole in Concepcion de Buenos Aires, Jalisco, Mexico September 3, 2017 (photo credit: FERNANDO CARRANZA / REUTERS)
Avocados are pictured as volunteers from a culinary school attempt to set a new Guinness World Record for the largest serving of guacamole in Concepcion de Buenos Aires, Jalisco, Mexico September 3, 2017
(photo credit: FERNANDO CARRANZA / REUTERS)

A study examined what consuming two avocados a day does for families' diets, and the results were fascinating. Participants reported a faster feeling of satiety and researchers found that all participants consumed fewer calories yet received more nutrients from their total food intake.

People who eat avocados regularly tend to consume fewer calories and eat healthier foods, a new study finds. 

Not everyone remembers but the fruit, which in recent years has been served in hip cafes and had social media abuzz with pictures of avocado toast, in the past suffered from dubious public relations thanks to its fat content.

The avocado comes to us from Central and South America, where it was an integral part of the diet as early as 3,000 years ago. It is rich in oleic acid (monounsaturated fat), which makes it especially healthy for people whose diets lack animal fat (vegetarians, vegans and others who avoid or undereat meat, dairy products or fish). Also, it contains adequate levels of B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E and potassium.

(Credit: Courtesy)(Credit: Courtesy)

In the current study, published in the journal Nutrients, families were asked to consume 14 avocados weekly for a period of six months, and at the end of the study they reported a number of health improvements. This group included 72 families from Mexico totaling 231 people who reported that eating more avocados made them feel satiated faster.

The researchers also found that increasing avocado consumption caused families to eat less processed meat, chicken and eggs. This is compared to the control group that included families whose avocado consumption was lower, about three avocados a week.

"To date, there has been little information about how avocado consumption affects family nutrition," said Dr. Matthew Allison, a lecturer and head of preventive medicine at the University of California at San Diego School of Medicine.  “Recent studies on the subject focused on individuals, mostly adults, and mainly examined changes in markers in the blood for cardio-metabolic diseases. Our results show that nutritional education and high avocado consumption can reduce total caloric intake in Mexican families.”

Eat more avocados, but less of other foods

One of the surprising findings was that those who consumed the most avocados consumed the lowest amounts of some important nutrients, including vitamin D and calcium. Researchers say this is a characteristic that may be associated with less eating in general.

"The results of our study show that nutritional education and increased consumption of avocados led to a significant reduction in joint family caloric intake including calories derived from carbohydrates, protein, fat (also saturated), calcium, magnesium, sodium, iron, potassium and vitamin D," said a scientist who examined data from a study by Dr. Lorena Pacheco from the Harvard School of Public Health.

Pacheco added that a secondary analysis of the data adjusted for energy consumption found that families who received nutritional education and ate more avocados increased their consumption of dietary fiber, monounsaturated fatty acids, potassium, vitamin D and folic acid. Scientists called for more research to look at how eating more avocados per capita would affect other populations and cultures.