Avocados are known for their anti-inflammatory and heart-healthy properties. Researchers from a recent study have recommended including this nutrient-dense food daily in your diet, as it may help improve overall diet quality.

The researchers from Penn State’s Department of Nutritional Science examined how a food-based intervention involving one avocado every day could help solve poor diet quality, a risk factor associated with many diseases.

“Avocados are a nutrient-dense food, containing a lot of fiber and other important nutrients. We wanted to see if regular intake of this food would lead to an increase in diet quality. Previous observational research suggests avocado consumers have higher diet quality than non-consumers. So, we developed this study to determine if there is a causational link between avocado consumption and overall diet quality,” Kristina Petersen, who led the study, said.

The trial involved 1,008 participants with abdominal obesity who were split into two groups. One group maintained their regular diet and restricted their avocado consumption, while the other group incorporated one avocado per day into their diet for 26 weeks.

Through phone interviews before the study and at a few points throughout the trial period, the researchers assessed the dietary intake of the participants in the previous 24 hours. Using the Healthy Eating Index, the experts checked how well these participants adhered to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which was used as a measure of overall diet quality.

The researchers noted that those participants who took an avocado daily had better adherence to dietary guidelines. Poor overall diet quality was linked to the risk of conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and kidney disease.

“By improving people’s adherence to dietary guidelines, we can help to reduce their risk of developing these chronic conditions and prolong healthy life expectancy. In studies like this one, we are able to determine food-based ways to improve diet quality, but behavioral strategies are also needed to help people adhere to dietary guidelines and reduce their risk of chronic disease,” Petersen said.

Although improved diet quality was not a surprising finding, researchers could also understand how the participants could achieve it.

“We determined that participants were using avocados as a substitute for some foods higher in refined grains and sodium. In our study, we classified avocados as a vegetable and did see an increase in vegetable consumption attributed to the avocado intake, but also participants used the avocados to replace some unhealthier options,” Petersen said.

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