posted on 09/04/2021 7:00 AM
(credit: Ed Alves/CB/DA Press)
An avocado a day can help redistribute women’s abdominal fat for a healthier profile, according to a study by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, in the United States, published in the Journal of Nutrition. One hundred and five overweight and obese adults participated in a randomized clinical trial, in which they received a daily meal for 12 weeks. Female participants who consumed the fruit as part of their diet had a more profound reduction in visceral fat.
“The goal was not to lose weight. We were interested in understanding whether eating an avocado affects the way people store body fat. The location of fat in the body plays an important role in health,” says Naiman Khan, professor of kinesiology and health at the university and one of the study’s authors.
In the abdomen, there are two types of fat: that which accumulates just under the skin, called subcutaneous, and that which accommodates more deeply and involves the internal organs, known as visceral. “Individuals with a higher proportion of this deeper visceral fat tend to have a higher risk of developing diabetes. So we were interested in determining whether the proportion of subcutaneous and visceral fat changed with avocado consumption,” explains Khan.
Participants were divided into two groups. One received meals that included a fresh avocado, while the other group was fed a menu that had nearly identical ingredients and similar calories, but did not contain the fruit. At the beginning and end of the 12 weeks, researchers measured the volunteers’ abdominal fat and glucose tolerance, an indicator of metabolism and a marker of diabetes.
Female participants who consumed an avocado per day showed a reduction in visceral abdominal fat and a decrease in the proportion of this type of adipose tissue to the subcutaneous tissue, indicating a redistribution of fat away from the organs. However, this did not happen in men. Neither they nor the women had improvements in glucose tolerance.
“Although daily consumption of avocado does not change glucose tolerance, what we have learned is that a dietary pattern that includes the fruit every day does impact how individuals store body fat in a way that is beneficial to health, but the benefits were mainly for women,” says Khan. “It is important to demonstrate that dietary interventions can modulate fat distribution. Knowing that the benefits were only evident in women shows us a little bit about the role sex plays in responses to dietary interventions.”
The researchers said they hope to conduct a follow-up study that provides participants with all of their daily meals and looks at additional markers of bowel and physical health. Thus, they aim to obtain a more complete picture of the metabolic effects of fruit consumption and to determine whether the difference remains between the two sexes.
“Our research not only sheds valuable light on the benefits of daily avocado consumption on different types of fat distribution, but provides us with a basis for further work to understand the full impact of avocado on body fat and health.” said co-author Richard Mackenzie, professor of human metabolism at the University of Roehampton in London. “By taking our research further, we will be able to get a clearer picture of what types of people would benefit most from incorporating avocados into their diets, as well as providing valuable data for healthcare professionals to guide patients on how to reduce fat storage and the potential dangers of diabetes,” bets Mackenzie.