Consuming half of a fresh Hass avocado with a burger may counteract the protein Interleukin-6 (IL-6), a measure of inflammation, compared to eating a burger without the vegetable.

The finding came from a pilot study that was published in the journal Food and Function, supported by the Hass Avocado Board (HAB), and conducted by a team of experts at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

The HAB is supporting investigations in order to advance knowledge on the benefits of eating fresh avocados and their effect on the health and nutrition of humans.

Clinical trials are now being conducted to examine the association between consuming avocados and the possible beneficial role in weight management and diabetes, risk factors for heart disease, and the vegetable’s capability to increase the absorption of nutrients.

The UCLA research involved 11 healthy males who were between the ages of 18 and 35. The experts found that four hours after the men ate a burger with no avocado, there was a notable increase (70%) of IL-6. However, four hours after a burger with fresh avocado was consumed, IL-6 was less influenced (40% increase).

Observations also showed that when the burger was consumed with the Hass avocado, it did not increase triglyceride levels more than eating the plain burger did. Research has shown that raised levels of triglycerides may result in heart disease. The vegetable does, however, bring extra calories and fat to the burger.

The researchers noted that after eating the plain hamburger compared to the burger with avocado, the contrast in peripheral arterial blood flow (the movement of blood to various body parts, as calculated by PAT), a measure of vascular health, was nearly statistically significant.

There were a notable decrease in PAT scores, demonstrating reduced blood flow, after the men ate the plain hamburger (an estimated 27% reduction), as opposed to a burger with avocado (4% reduction).

This indicates that consuming avocado with a burger may have alleviated a greater reduction in blood flow. However, the authors said that more research is necessary.

Although these preliminary results are from a single study of just 11 men, it is the starting point for future experiments to identify whether avocados can have an effect on vascular health and heart health.

David Heber, MD, PhD, primary investigator of the study, concluded:

“This study supports the hypothesis that fresh Hass avocado, may help support normal vascular function, which is important for heart health. After eating a burger with one-half of a fresh medium Hass avocado, some of the after-meal effects observed after eating the plain burger, specifically inflammation and narrowing blood vessels, were reduced within hours, and triglycerides did not increase beyond what was observed after eating the burger alone.

Written by Sarah Glynn