Your daily avocado toast may be doing more than simply getting you through your morning to-dos—a new study claims that eating one fresh avocado every day changed women’s abdominal fat to be healthier.
The study, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and published in The Journal of Nutrition, found that an avo a day for 12 weeks led to women seeing reduced levels of visceral fat, the kind of fat that encases the internal organs and is linked to higher chances of inflammation, heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes.
“[W]hat we learned is that a dietary pattern that includes an avocado every day impacted the way individuals store body fat in a beneficial manner for their health, but the benefits were primarily in females,” lead author Nainan A. Khan, an associate professor of kinesiology and community health at the university, said in a media release. “It’s important to demonstrate that dietary interventions can modulate fat distribution.”
But before you start adding guacamole to everything you eat, you need to take this slice of avocado news with a grain of salt. Several, in fact.
First of all, the study was funded by the Hass Avocado Board and only studied the effects of Hass avocados, not other types of the fruit. Then there’s the study size, which was relatively small, at 105 participants between 24 and 45, roughly 60% of whom were women.
Then there are the results themselves. The group that ate a fresh avocado a day did see both a reduction of and a smaller proportion of visceral fat to overall abdominal fat compared to the control group, which maintained a similar calorie count but ate no avocado. But the avocado group didn’t actually didn’t actually see an overall decrease in abdominal fat. Instead, the visceral fat seemed to be converted into subcutaneous fat, or that belly fat that lies under the skin and not around the organs. Subcutaneous fat isn’t implicated like visceral fat is in the onset of chronic disease.
In fact, the non-avocado group actually had lower levels of overall abdominal fat—though they didn’t seem to be moving away from the harmful visceral fat. Furthermore, avocados didn’t seem to have any effect on glucose levels, which doctors and researchers use to detect diabetes and measure metabolism.
And, finally, the only subjects who saw a noticeable change in abdominal fat composition were women—avos didn’t seem to make any difference for men at all, for better or worse. Still, the results show that there are avenues for further research into how we can improve our health through better diets.
“By taking our research further, we will be able to gain a clearer picture into which types of people would benefit most from incorporating avocados into their diets and deliver valuable data for health care advisers to provide patients with guidance on how to reduce fat storage and the potential dangers of diabetes,” said co-author Richard Mackenzie, a professor of human metabolism at the University of Roehampton in London.