February 22, 2013 by APRIL McCARTHY
New analysis of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 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.
You probably already knew that avocado was a great source of vitamin E, but did you know that because it’s so rich in antioxidants and the good-for-you type of fat, it’s also an anti-aging powerhouse? Studies have shown that the minerals in avocado even help you better absorb other nutrients, like beta carotene. They also contain a sugar called D-manno-heptulose that helps your skin produce collagen, which can prevent wrinkles.
Researchers have found that consuming avocado bolsters cells’ power centers against harmful free radicals. Atmospheric oxygen facilitated the evolution and complexity of terrestrial organisms, including human beings, because it allowed nutrients to be used more efficiently by those organisms, which in turn were able to generate more energy.
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).
Overall Diet Quality, Energy and Nutrient Intakes
- 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.”
7 Amazing Avocado Recipes
1. Vegan Avocado Alfredo Sauce — Who needs butter and cream? Make a decadent alfredo sauce with avocado as the base instead!
2. Creamy Avocado Potato Salad — Mashed replaces the mayo in this healthy, tasty side dish.
3. Avocado Reuben Sandwich — Talk about decadent!
4. Vegan Enchiladas with Cilantro Avocado Cream Sauce — I’ve always said that avocado is perfect for mimicking the creaminess of cheese, and this recipe proves it!
5. Avocado and Basil Mayonnaise — The avocado base for this recipe gives you the creaminess of mayo without any high cholesterol eggs.
6. Mexican Pizza — Another delicious example of avocado standing in for saturated fat-laden cheese!
7. Avocado Lime Cupcakes — The avocado adds a bit of richness to these decadent vegan cupcakes.
April McCarthy is a community journalist playing an active role reporting and analyzing world events to advance our health and eco-friendly initiatives.