If you, like some of us here at mindbodygreen, rely on avocados as a staple healthy fat in your diet, we’ve got good news: New research is saying they’ve got some particular health benefits for women that are worth listening to.
A new study, published in the Journal of Nutrition (and, important to note, funded by the Hass Avocado Board), has linked eating avocados to a more healthy fat distribution—which can have big impacts on future health.
The link between avocados and women’s health.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, saw just over 100 participants with overweight and obesity split into two groups, both of whom were provided with similar means—the only difference was that one group featured one avocado every day, and another did not. They found that women who ate an avocado each day had a reduction in deeper visceral abdominal fat.
“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,” explained Naiman Khan, Ph.D., R.D., a professor of kinesiology and community health at the university. “Individuals with a higher proportion of that deeper visceral fat tend to be at a higher risk of developing diabetes.”
At both ends of the 12-week study period, abdominal fat and glucose tolerance were measured by researchers. “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,” said Khan. Fat composition in men did not change, but the researchers point out that this is supporting evidence for more nuanced dietary interventions based on sex and other more unique factors.
“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,” said Khan.
Why body composition is important for everyone.
As the researchers note, having more of that visceral fat tends to be linked with a higher risk of diabetes, but there are other conditions that have the same link as well. Studies have found that excess visceral abdominal tissue can contribute to metabolic syndrome and, ultimately, heart disease; while others have specifically linked body composition to stroke risk.
Effectively, these findings mean that regardless of other health components, considering ways to “optimize” our body’s composition can play a major role in overall health and well-being. For women, something as simple as a few slices of avocado a day may help improve health—so brb, I’m going to make some avocado toast.