A University of Illinois-led study found women who added an avocado a day to meals showed a healthier distribution of visceral fat vs. subcutaneous fat around the abdomen after three months. The research was published this summer in the Journal of Nutrition.
- Local scientist angle: The study was led by Naiman Khan, an Illinois professor of kinesiology and community health.
Why it matters: Subcutaneous fat, found right beneath the skin, is relatively harmless when it comes to disease. But visceral fat (which lies behind the abdominal wall and around organs) is associated with higher risk of Type 2 diabetes — one of the biggest drivers of illness and health care costs in the nation.
Details: The study followed 105 men and women over 12 weeks. The random sample of subjects was divided into two groups. Each group ate mostly the same controlled diet. But one of those diets included a Hass avocado each day (the study was funded by Hass Avocado Board).
While the women saw changes in fat distribution, the men didn't.
- "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," Khan said in a statement.
What they're saying: Northwestern Medicine nutrition researcher Bethany Doerfler, who was not involved in the study, applauded it and called it "well designed."
- But she wanted to know if the avocado eaters had changed their lifestyles in any other ways that might affect the outcome. The study only provided dietary data.
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