Avocado consumption linked to better overall diet quality

Avocado intake enhances diet quality in randomized trials.


A study by Penn State‘s Nutritional Sciences Department researchers suggests that eating one avocado daily may improve diet quality. Because many adult Americans do not follow dietary guidelines, poor food quality increases the risk of heart disease.

Led by Kristina Petersen and Penny Kris-Etherton, the study, published in Current Developments in Nutrition, explored how eating one avocado daily affects overall diet quality.

Petersen said, “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 a 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.”

According to Petersen, the researchers aimed to determine whether including avocados in people’s daily meals may significantly enhance the quality of their diets, as just 2% of American adults routinely eat avocados.

They interviewed participants by phone before and during the study to understand their eating habits on the previous day. They assessed their diets using the Healthy Eating Index. This index measures how closely diets align with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, indicating overall diet quality.  

The study involved 1,008 participants split into two groups: one group continued their diet with limited avocado intake. In contrast, the other group added one avocado daily for 26 weeks.

Petersen mentioned that having an avocado daily significantly boosted adherence to dietary guidelines, indicating that simple strategies can help people follow healthier diets. Although avocados are known to enhance diet quality, researchers were taken aback by how individuals could attain this goal. Avocados were frequently utilized to replace diets heavy in sodium and refined carbohydrates.

While classified as a vegetable in the study, avocados increased overall vegetable consumption, replacing some less healthy options in participants’ diets.

According to Petersen, a lousy diet significantly increases the likelihood of developing conditions, including diabetes, kidney disease, and heart disease. By helping people follow dietary guidelines better, we can lower their risk of these chronic conditions and increase their healthy lifespan. Petersen has studied other food-based interventions, like pistachios’ effect on diet quality. However, more research is needed to find different strategies for improving dietary adherence.

According to Penn State researchers, eating one avocado daily may improve diet quality. Poor diets raise risks for diseases like heart disease. The study, conducted under the direction of Kristina Petersen and Penny Kris-Etherton, examined how eating an avocado every day affects diet quality. It was discovered that individuals who consumed one avocado daily had better compliance with dietary recommendations, frequently substituting unhealthy choices.

Petersen emphasizes that poor diet quality increases risks for various diseases, and improving adherence to guidelines can lower these risks. More research is needed to find other food-based strategies to enhance dietary adherence.

Journal reference:

  1. Kristina S Petersen, Sydney Smith, et al., One Avocado per Day as Part of Usual Intake Improves Diet Quality: Exploratory Results from a Randomized Controlled Trial. Current Developments in Nutrition. DOI: 10.1016/j.cdnut.2024.102079.
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