People who eat a lot avocado are likely to have a healthier diet and slimmer waistlines than the rest of the population, according to research.
They also have better cholesterol readings and are less at risk of heart disease, strokes and diabetes, it is claimed.
The findings, published in the Nutrition Journal, come from a large US health and diet survey. It was funded by the Hass Avocado Board, which promotes avocado consumption.
Researchers analysed data on more than 17,500 individuals who took part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
They focused on 347 adults, half of them women, who reported eating any amount of avocados. Average consumption was about half a medium-sized avocado a day.
These participants were found to have significantly better nutrient intake levels and health indicators than those who avoided the fruits.
According to the study, avocado eaters had generally healthier diets rich in essential vitamins and minerals. Their fibre intake was 36% higher, and they consumed 23% more vitamin E, 13% more magnesium, 16% more potassium and 48% more vitamin K.
People who ate avocados also had significantly higher levels of “good” fats in the blood that those who did not, despite consuming the same number of calories.
Their body mass index readings were lower, and they weighed on average 7.5 pounds less than avocado avoiders. In addition, their waistlines were four centimetres slimmer.
Eating avocados was associated with significantly higher levels of “good” cholesterol, or high-density lipoprotein, which protects against heart disease, the study showed.
Avocado consumers were also 50% less at risk of metabolic syndrome, a collection of symptoms linked to heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
Lead researcher Dr Victor Fulgoni, a dietary consultant at the firm Nutrition Impact, said: “These findings suggest an interesting association between the consumption of avocados and better nutrient intakes and other positive outcomes.
“These observations were derived from population survey data, they provide important clues to better understanding the relationships between diet and health, and give direction to future research and endeavours.”
The findings were based on a single snapshot of participants’ diet over a period of 24 hours, combined with test results.
The researchers pointed out there was no evidence of a causal link between avocado consumption and better diet.
Avocados were cultivated in Central America as long ago as 5,000 BC, but did not reach British shores until the late 17th century.
They made their first appearance on supermarket shelves in the UK in the 1960s.