New Research Suggests Avocados Could Enhance Diet Quality

by Ella

A recent study led by researchers at Penn State University’s Department of Nutritional Sciences suggests that incorporating one avocado into daily dietary intake may lead to an improvement in overall diet quality. Poor diet quality is recognized as a risk factor for various diseases, including heart disease, and a significant portion of American adults fail to meet key dietary recommendations outlined in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Associate Professor of Nutritional Sciences, Kristina Petersen, alongside retired Evan Pugh University Professor of Nutritional Sciences, Penny Kris-Etherton, spearheaded the study, which was recently published in the journal ‘Current Developments in Nutrition’. The research aimed to investigate how a food-based intervention, specifically consuming one avocado per day, impacts overall diet quality.


“Avocados are a nutrient-dense food, rich in fiber and other essential nutrients. We wanted to explore if regular avocado consumption could lead to an increase in diet quality,” explained Petersen. “Previous observational studies have suggested that individuals who consume avocados tend to have higher diet quality than non-consumers. Hence, we designed this study to establish a potential causal link between avocado consumption and overall diet quality.”


Given that only 2% of American adults are regular avocado consumers, the researchers aimed to assess whether integrating avocados into daily dietary habits could substantially enhance diet quality.


The study involved 1,008 participants divided into two groups. One group maintained their usual diet while limiting avocado intake throughout the 26-week study, while the other group incorporated one avocado per day into their diet.


“Our findings revealed that participants who consumed one avocado per day significantly increased their adherence to dietary guidelines,” stated Petersen. “This suggests that simple strategies, such as consuming one avocado daily, could assist individuals in adhering to dietary guidelines and enhancing the quality of their diets.”

While the researchers anticipated an improvement in diet quality among participants consuming avocados daily, they were intrigued by the methods through which participants achieved this improvement.

“We observed that participants utilized avocados as substitutes for foods higher in refined grains and sodium,” Petersen elaborated. “While we classified avocados as a vegetable and noted an increase in vegetable consumption attributed to avocado intake, participants also utilized avocados to replace less healthy options.”

Petersen emphasized the significance of improving adherence to dietary guidelines, as poor diet quality substantially elevates the risk of conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and kidney disease.

“Enhancing adherence to dietary guidelines can aid in reducing the risk of developing chronic conditions and extending healthy life expectancy,” Petersen added.

While Petersen and her team have conducted similar studies exploring the impact of food-based interventions, such as the relationship between pistachios and diet quality, they underscored the need for further research to identify additional food-based strategies that can enhance adherence to dietary guidelines.

“In studies like ours, we identify food-based approaches to enhance diet quality, yet behavioral strategies are also essential to assist individuals in adhering to dietary guidelines and mitigating the risk of chronic disease,” Petersen concluded.



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