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An Avocado a Day Helps Women Fight Belly Fat


The epidemic of obesity is currently a major public health challenge in the USA, affecting almost 70% of the adult population. Abdominal fat is the underlying challenge linked to chronic metabolic diseases that impact one of three adults. But, according to a new study out of the University of Illinois, eating avocados can help change the distribution of this belly fat. 

There are two types of fat in the abdomen. Subcutaneous fat accumulates directly below the skin, and visceral fat accumulates much deeper in the abdomen. The location of fat in the abdomen is directly related to overall health. The visceral fat will collect around your organs, becoming one of the leading factors of an increased risk of metabolic conditions like diabetes. 

Currently, dietary changes have been shown to help with weight management, but until now, there has been no clear evidence that diet can influence visceral fat reduction specifically. Based on evidence that avocados benefit metabolic health, a team from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign set out to evaluate the effects of regularly eating avocados over abdominal fat distribution. 

Avocados have a high monounsaturated fatty acid and omega-3 fatty acid content, making them a marker of a higher quality diet and ideal for this study. One hundred and five adults with obesity received one meal a day for 12 weeks. Participants were divided into two groups, one receiving a meal that included avocado and the other a meal of identical ingredients and similar calories, but no avocado. 

Woman preparing avocado toast

Abdominal fat and glucose tolerance were used to evaluate metabolic health over this 12-week period. During the study, researchers found:

♦ Female participants had reduced visceral fat around their bellies.

♦ Female participants had a reduced ratio of visceral fat to subcutaneous fat.

♦ Male participants had no change in fat distribution.

♦ No improvements in glucose tolerance in male or female participants.

While there was no evidence to support improvements in glucose tolerance, the results indicated that daily consumption of avocados impacts fat storage around the belly. Learning that the benefits only occurred in women highlights the potential role of hormones in fat distribution around the body and possible dietary interventions to improve health.  

Based on the findings that avocados impact body fat and health, follow-up studies continue. By learning how our bodies work, targeted and effective dietary plans can be developed to help those with obesity reduce fat storage and promote overall health. For now, it looks like an avocado a day can help women reduce belly fat for a healthier profile.

Journal source:

Naiman A Khan, et al. Avocado Consumption, Abdominal Adiposity, and Oral Glucose Tolerance Among Persons with Overweight and Obesity. The Journal of Nutrition, 2021; 151 (9): 2513.