Since avocados contain the highest fat content of any fruit, it seems illogical to think they might actually help people lose their belly fat.
Nevertheless, that’s the hypothesis behind an upcoming study at Loma Linda University School of Public Health. To sweeten the deal, Joan Sabaté, MD, DrPH, is willing to pay 250 people to help researchers determine if moderate avocado consumption actually promotes weight loss.
Sabaté, who directs the Center for Nutrition, Lifestyle and Disease Prevention at the school, says LLU and three other American universities will evaluate the controversial idea in a randomized, six-month trial.
“The study will examine whether eating one avocado per day reduces visceral adipose fat in the abdomen,” Sabaté says.
Participants for the study must:
- Be 25 years of age or older
- Be willing to either eat one avocado per day for six months or eat only two avocados per month for the same period
- Measure at least 40 inches around the waist if they are male, or
- Measure at least 35 inches around the waist if they are female.
Participants will be randomly assigned to one of two groups. The test group will be given 16 avocados every two weeks and be required to eat one avocado per day throughout the six-month study. The control group will be required to eat no more than two avocados per month during the same period.
Selected participants will receive a free MRI and health screening by an LLU clinician, and asked to attend a monthly meeting with a dietician. Upon successful completion of the study, participants in both groups will be paid $300 each, and members of the control group will be given 24 avocados to enjoy.
In addition to LLU, Penn State University, Tufts University and the University of California, Los Angeles, will each recruit 250 participants, for a total of 1,000 participants in the study.
Samuel Barnes, PhD, assistant professor of radiology at LLU School of Medicine, has been selected to read the MRI results of participants from all four universities. Wake Forest University of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, will perform statistical analysis once the data has been collected.
The study is funded by the Hass Avocado Board. Sabaté says sponsorship will not affect the findings. “For the last 20 years, we have been doing dietary intervention studies on plant-based foods and nuts. We are rigorous in our selection of projects,” he says.