You’ve probably heard the phrase “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” But according to new research, avocados may have the same effect — except this time, eating one daily may actually target that stubborn belly fat.
In a study published in The Journal of Nutrition, researchers wanted to see the effects of avocados on people who were overweight or obese. Instead of simply looking at weight loss, however, they were more interested in if the fruit could affect the distribution of fat in the body. To do this, they conducted a controlled experiment where they tracked 105 participants over the course of 12 weeks. Subjects ate normally, except one group received a daily meal from researchers that contained one avocado in it, while the second group received the same meal but without avocado.
By the end of the three-month period, researchers discovered that women who ate one avocado daily saw a reduced amount of visceral abdominal fat, a type of belly fat that can lead to more serious health problems than fat that accumulates in other parts of the body. Visceral abdominal fat can increase your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, Alzheimer’s, breast cancer, and several other life-threatening conditions if left untreated. It can also be among the most difficult fat to remove. Interestingly, men didn’t see this same redistribution of fat that women did.
Researchers are still trying to parse why avocados had such a significant impact on belly fat storage in women. “Our research not only sheds a valuable light on benefits of daily avocado consumption on the different types of fat distribution across genders, it provides us with a foundation to conduct further work to understand the full impact avocados have on body fat and health,” explained study co-author Richard Mackenzie, a professor of human metabolism at the University of Roehampton. Previous academic work has shown this may be due to the fruit’s high concentration of healthy fats as well as its incredible fiber content, so those are helpful places to start.
If eating one full avocado in a single sitting seems like a lot, consider breaking it up throughout the day and adding it to a smoothie, a few avocado slices to your salad at lunch, or whipping up a delicious avocado toast!