If you love smashing avocado over your toast, throwing it in your salad or digging nachos in guacamole, you're not alone. And while the many reasons to eat the buttery fruit have been documented before-- healthy mono-unsaturated fats, blood pressure controlling magnesium and potassium, decent amounts of satiating fibre--here is another one.
According to a recent study conducted by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and collaborators and published in the Journal of Nutrition, an avocado a day could help redistribute belly fat in women toward a healthier profile. Visceral fat aka belly fat is a type of body fat that’s stored within the abdominal cavity, often cocooning vital organs like the liver, stomach and arteries. It is called “active fat” since it actively increases the risk of serious health problems, unlike the more benign subcutaneous fat that lies beneath the skin. Men tend to accumulate more visceral fat than premenopausal women, explaining why they are at higher risk for heart disease. As women age, hitting menopause, their bodies change from being more pear-shaped, fat moving from their hips and thighs to their bellies, adversely impacting their metabolic health.
One hundred and five adults participated in a randomised controlled trial that provided one meal a day for 12 weeks. Participants were divided into two groups, one of which received meals that incorporated a fresh avocado, while the other group received a similar meal, but without the fruit. Researchers, who had measured abdominal fat and glucose tolerance before and after the experiment discovered this. “Women who consumed avocado as part of their daily meal had a reduction in deeper visceral abdominal fat,” stated the study, adding that this did not impact the fact distribution in men or changed the glucose tolerance in either men or women.
Also read: Forget apples, eat an avocado a day
The study was led by Naiman Khan, a professor of kinesiology and community health. According to Khan, the goal wasn't about 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,” he said. He added that the study proved 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. “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,” he said.