Tag: avocado

Eating More Avocados Edges Out Unhealthy Foods

Photo by Dirk Ribbler on Unsplash

In a novel study, researchers conducted a randomised controlled trial comparing the potential health effects between families of Mexican descent that consumed a low allotment of avocados (three per week) and families that consumed a high allotment (14 per week).

They found that the high avocado allotment families self-reported lower caloric consumption, reducing their intake of other foods, including dairy, meats and refined grains and their associated negative nutrients, such as saturated fat and sodium.

The findings, published in Nutrients, may offer insights into how to better address the burgeoning public health issues of obesity and related diseases, particularly in high-risk communities, said the authors.

“Data regarding the effects of avocado intake on family nutritional status has been non-existent,” said senior author Matthew Allison, MD, professor at UC San Diego School of Medicine.

“Recent trials have focused on individuals, primarily adults, and limited to changes in cardiometabolic disease blood markers. Our trial’s results provide evidence that a nutrition education and high avocado allotment reduces total caloric energy in Mexican heritage families.”

The soft and buttery insides of the avocado are rich in vitamins C, E, K and B6, plus riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, potassium, lutein, beta carotene and omega-3 fatty acids.

Half of a medium-sized fruit provides up to 20% of the recommended daily fibre, 10% potassium, 5% magnesium, 15% folate and 7.5 grams of monounsaturated fatty acids.

For the study, researchers enrolled 72 families (231 individuals) consisting of at least three members each over the age of five, residing in the same home, free of severe chronic disease, not on specific diets, and of Mexican heritage. The families were randomised into two groups for six months, during which time both groups also received bi-weekly nutrition education sessions.

Researchers wanted to assess if increased but moderated consumption of a single, nutrient-dense food might measurably improve overall health and decrease diet-related disparities.

While no change in BMI or waist circumference was seen between the two groups during the trial, researchers noted that consuming more avocados appeared to speed satiety. Fats and some dietary fibres, such as those found in avocados, can impact total energy intake by influencing gastrointestinal functions, such as introducing bulk that slows gastric emptying, regulating glucose and insulin reactions, prolonging nutrient absorption and modifying key peptide hormones that signal fullness.

Interestingly, the study found that families consuming more avocados correspondingly reduced their consumption of animal protein, specifically chicken, eggs and processed meats, the latter of which are typically higher in fat and sodium. Current nutrition guidelines recommend reduced consumption of both fat and sodium.

But surprisingly, high avocado consumers also recorded decreased intake of calcium, iron, sodium, vitamin D, potassium and magnesium, which researchers said might be associated with eating less.

“Our results show that the nutrition education and high avocado intake intervention group significantly reduced their family total energy intake, as well as carbohydrate, protein, fat (including saturated), calcium, magnesium, sodium, iron, potassium and vitamin D,” said first author Lorena Pacheco.

“In secondary energy-adjusted analyses, the nutrition education and high avocado allotment group significantly increased their intake of dietary fibre, monounsaturated fatty acids, potassium, vitamin E and folate.”

Source: EurekAlert!

In Women, Avocado Consumption Reduces Abdominal Visceral Fat

Photo by Dirk Ribbler on Unsplash

An avocado a day could help reduce abdominal visceral fat in women and result in health benefits, researchers wrote in the Journal of Nutrition.

In a randomised study, women who consumed avocado as part of their daily meal experienced a reduction in deeper visceral abdominal fat, though glucose tolerance markers were unchanged.

Study leader Naiman Khan, professor of kinesiology and community health, at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign said:

“The goal wasn’t weight loss; we were interested in understanding what eating an avocado does to the way individuals store their body fat. The location of fat in the body plays an important role in health,” Prof Khan said.

“In the abdomen, there are two kinds of fat: fat that accumulates right underneath the skin, called subcutaneous fat, and fat that accumulates deeper in the abdomen, known as visceral fat, that surrounds the internal organs. Individuals with a higher proportion of that deeper visceral fat tend to be at a higher risk of developing diabetes. So we were interested in determining whether the ratio of subcutaneous to visceral fat changed with avocado consumption,” he said.

The participants were divided into two groups; one received meals incorporating a fresh avocado, and the other received a meal that had nearly identical ingredients and similar calories but without avocado. At the beginning and end of the trial, the researchers measured participants’ abdominal fat and their glucose tolerance, a measure of metabolism and a marker of diabetes.

Female participants who consumed an avocado a day as part of their meal had a reduction in visceral abdominal fat and experienced a reduction in the ratio of visceral fat to subcutaneous fat, indicating a redistribution of fat away from the organs. However, in males there was no change in fat distribution, and neither males nor females had improvements in glucose tolerance.

“While daily consumption of avocados did not change glucose tolerance, what 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,” Prof Khan said. “It’s important to demonstrate that dietary interventions can modulate fat distribution. Learning that the benefits were only evident in females tells us a little bit about the potential for sex playing a role in dietary intervention responses.”

The next step would be to provide all of the participants’ daily meals and look at additional markers of gut health and physical health for a more complete understanding of metabolic impacts and whether this sex difference persists.

Source: University of Illinois Alabama

Avocado Compound May Be Useful in Leukaemia Therapy

Avocados may be good for more than just an expensive toast topping. According to a new study from the University of Guelph a compound in avocados offers a potential route to improved leukaemia therapy.

The compound in questions targets an enzyme that scientists have identified for the first time as being critical to cancer cell growth, explained Dr Paul Spagnuolo, at the Department of Food Science.

The study focus was on acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), which is the most severe form of leukaemia. Most cases occur in people over age 65, with fewer than 10% of patients surviving five years after diagnosis.

Leukaemia cells have elevated levels of an enzyme called VLCAD involved in their metabolism, said Dr Spagnuolo.

“The cell relies on that pathway to survive,” he said, explaining that the compound is a likely candidate for drug therapy. “This is the first time VLCAD has been identified as a target in any cancer.”

Dr Spagnuolo’s team screened nutraceutical compounds among a variety of compounds, searching for any substance that could inhibit the enzyme. “Lo and behold, the best one was derived from avocado,” said Dr Spagnuolo.

Avocados have already been shown to improve lipid profiles, as well as helping to control weight, likely through increased satiation. His lab previously examined avocatin B, a fat molecule found only in avocados, for potential application in diabetes prevention and obesity management. He’s now keen to see it put to use in leukaemia patients.

“VLCAD can be a good marker to identify patients suitable for this type of therapy. It can also be a marker to measure the activity of the drug,” said Dr Spagnuolo. “That sets the stage for eventual use of this molecule in human clinical trials.”

Around half of patients over 65 diagnosed with AML currently enter palliative care. Some may undergo chemotherapy, but these treatments are often toxic and result in patients dying.

“There’s been a drive to find less toxic drugs that can be used,” he noted.

Referring to earlier work using avocatin B for diabetes, Spagnuolo said, “We completed a human study with this as an oral supplement and have been able to show that appreciable amounts are fairly well tolerated.”
The results of the study were published in the journal Blood.    

Source: Medical Xpress

Journal information: Matthew Tcheng et al, Very long chain fatty acid metabolism is required in acute myeloid leukemia, Blood (2021). DOI: 10.1182/blood.2020008551