Other than their now soaring prices, avocados appear to have it all. The versatile fruit can be spread onto your breakfast toast, added to your favorite sandwich, or used as a topping for your taco night dinners. But many Americans fear that avocados’ high-calorie count risks weight gain or poor health. This week, new research concluded that eating one avocado a day for six months did not affect belly fat, liver fat, or waist circumference in overweight or obese participants, but rather revealed incredible health benefits.

Published in the Journal of the American Heart Association by Penn State, Loma Linda University, Tufts University, Wake Forest University, and UCLA researchers, the new study – which was funded by the Hass Avocado Board – presents a remarkable conclusion that not only do avocados not risk weight gain but also help people lower cholesterol levels. The researchers claim that eating an avocado a day improves dietary health quality.

"While the avocados did not affect belly fat or weight gain, the study still provides evidence that avocados can be a beneficial addition to a well-balanced diet," Evan Pugh University Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Penn State Penny Kris-Etherton said. "Incorporating an avocado per day in this study did not cause weight gain and also caused a slight decrease in LDL cholesterol, which are all important findings for better health."

To conduct the study, the researchers followed more than 1,000 participants for a six-month period. The participants were all experiencing overweight or obesity. Half of the participants were instructed to eat an avocado a day, while the other half limited avocado consumption to less than two a month. The study also noted that the daily avocado-eating participants showed dietary improvement by eight points on a 100-point scale. Daily avocado consumption led to 2.9 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) decrease in total cholesterol and the LDL cholesterol decreasing 2.5 mg/dL.

"Adherence to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans is generally poor in the U.S., and our findings suggest that eating an avocado per day can substantially increase overall diet quality," Assistant Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Texas Tech University Kristina Petersen said. "This is important because we know a higher diet quality is associated with lower risk of several diseases including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers."

Avocados Can Help Promote Weight Loss

The latest study found that consistent avocado consumption will not cause an increase in body weight with a low impact on weight or BMI generally. But another study reviewed how avocado consumption can help shrink belly fat.

From the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. researchers examined how avocado consumption impacts the abdominal fat and blood sugar of 105 overweight or obese participants. The research team noted that the goal of the study was not weighted loss, but the way the body stores fat, emphasizing the location of fat is key to health. The study found that avocados help shift where the body stores fats. Avocados also contain a significant amount of fiber – 10 grams per fruit – that helps the body feel fuller for longer and improves digestion.

How Many Calories Are in an Avocado?

Avocado calories average at about 240 per average-sized fruit, and mostly come from its high-fat content, approximately 24 grams. But avocados fat content are natural “good” fats as opposed to processed saturated fats. These good fats help the body lose weight, feel fuller longer, and promote a healthy heart.

Avocados are much more than their high caloric reputation. Beyond the recent studies, avocados offer you several health benefits that will make you want to eat an avocado every day. Helping with weight loss and healthy fat consumption is only the beginning of avocado health benefits. Avocadoes help boost the immune system with high levels of vitamin E. Avocados also contain more potassium than bananas – 14 percent of your daily value per fruit.

Eating an avocado a day can also replace your daily vitamin. Just one avocado contains significant sources of 20 different vitamins and minerals including vitamin K and vitamin C.

  • Vitamin C: 17 percent of the DV
  • Vitamin B5: 14 percent of the DV
  • Vitamin B6: 13 percent of the DV
  • Vitamin E: 10 percent of the DV
  • Potassium: 14 percent of the DV
  • Vitamin K: 26 percent of the daily value (DV)
  • Vitamin B9, aka Folate 20 percent of the DV

Despite its high-calorie counts, eating an avocado a day helps your body and personal health enough to justify the caloric intake. Overall, avocados deliver a substantial dose of nutrients, helps your body store fat, decrease cholesterol levels, and even help protect your eyes with antioxidants including zeaxanthin and carotenoids lutein.

Bottom Line: Eating Avocados Can Help Lower Cholesterol and Promote Weight Loss.

Despite avocados' high-calorie counts, adding an avocado to your daily diet provides several key health benefits without causing weight gain, increased BMI, or belly fat. New research suggests that daily avocado consumption can help lower unhealthy cholesterol levels and improve diet standards overall. Next time you are cooking breakfast, lunch, or dinner, think about how you can incorporate avocado into your meal.

For more of the latest studies, visit The Beet's News articles

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