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Diet change works swiftly in reducing risk

NZ Avocado contributed to the study detailed below through the provision of avocados to the participants throughout the trial.

A study by Lynnette Ferguson, Professor of Nutrition at The University of Auckland, has shown that a change in diet can be effective in reducing inflammation over a period of just six weeks in healthy New Zealanders.

The research has also shown that short-term studies with relatively small numbers of participants are capable of yielding robust research results, which has major implications for the cost of human clinical trials.

"Inflammation, says Professor Ferguson, "can be the catalyst for chronic human diseases, including Alzheimer's, cardiovascular diseases and some cancers, as well as various autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's Disease and type 2 diabetes.

"It has been established in many studies that this inflammation can be reduced through a diet which is high in long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, fruit and vegetables, nuts and whole grains, and is low in refined grains, saturated fats and sugars.

"Many of these dietary components characterise the Mediterranean diet', which has been shown to protect against chronic disease.

What Professor Ferguson set out to investigate was whether there was evidence of inflammation in apparently healthy New Zealanders and whether changing their diet for just six weeks would reduce this evidence.

To do this she looked at bio-markers including the C-reactive protein (CRP), which is a standard marker for inflammation and can be measured through blood tests.

Thirty healthy volunteers, selected for their initially "poor diets, were encouraged to cut out refined and processed foods and to follow a Mediterranean-type diet over the six weeks of the study, with increased amounts of fish, vegetables, unrefined cereals and "good fats such as olive oil and avocado. They were given some foods, including salmon (for one meal a week), and were provided with recipes for healthy eating. The biggest difference from a standard Mediterranean-style diet was the use of gluten-free foods.

Participants, randomly assigned to high and lower-intervention groups, provided blood and urine samples at the beginning and end of the study, completed a four-day diary in the final days, and completed questionnaires about their diet and lifestyle, as well as attending workshops led by expert dieticians.

"This was a small study, intended to be a pilot for a much larger study of patients with Inflammatory Bowel Diseases such as Crohn's Disease, but the results turned out to be highly statistically significant, says Professor Ferguson. "Overall average daily fat intake was considerably reduced, and much lower percentages of saturated fat were consumed.

The self-reporting of volunteers was corroborated by the blood tests, which showed a corresponding reduction in the bio-markers for inflammation. It demonstrated that the high-intervention diet had altered gene expression within six weeks.

"This is a remarkable result, says Professor Ferguson, "since it shows that average people, many of them young and with no health conditions, can, through an improvement in diet, significantly modify the biomarkers that indicate the risk that they could develop a chronic disease later.

The larger research project for which this was a pilot or "proof of principle study is one which is examining the effect of a change to a Mediterranean-type diet (similar, though not identical, to that in the pilot study) on people suffering from Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

It has been established that there are several different genotypes characteristic of people suffering from Inflammatory Bowel Disease, and that each of those genotypes responds differently to particular types of diet or dietary items. The current research project is concentrating on those who have the most common genotype for the disease, though the ultimate aim is to formulate different diets tailored to the needs of the whole range of genotypes.

Results are being analysed now and look "highly encouraging , says Professor Ferguson. The findings will be available in March.

Read More 06 Sep '17 Nic Gill - avocado grower Photo

Nic Gill - avocado grower

Dr Nic Gill tells us about why he chose to grow avocados and why he loves them. Watch here: Nic Gill - Avocado grower

Read More 06 Sep '17 Nic Gill - avocado as the Ferrari of fruit Photo

Nic Gill - avocado as the Ferrari of fruit

Dr Nic Gill shares about why avocados are the "Ferrari of fruit" and talks about avocados as a part of a high performance athletes diet. Nic also shares his favourite avocado smoothie recipe. Watch here: Nic Gill - avocado as the "Ferrari of fruit"

Read More 17 Aug '17 Kiwis Assured All Fresh Avocados Eaten in New Zealand are Grown Here Photo

Kiwis Assured All Fresh Avocados Eaten in New Zealand are Grown Here

“All fresh avocados eaten in New Zealand are grown here,” says New Zealand Avocado CEO Jen Scoular, mitigating concerns that we import the fruit from Mexico. Criticism of Mexican growing practices was raised by an article published this week by the New Zealand Herald in the Lifestyle Section article headlined “Why you should stop eating avocados.”* Scoular says the article has caused confusion and New Zealand Avocado had fielded some concerned calls from the public for clarification about the origins of the fruit in New Zealand. New Zealand Avocado says the facts are: New Zealand does not import any fresh avocados. All our fruit is grown here, and consumed by Kiwis as well as exported, and our industry business model is environmentally sustainable. All of the fresh avocados that are sold in New Zealand supermarkets must comply with food safety protocols that ensure they are free of unsafe chemical residues and are safe for consumption. Furthermore, New Zealand researchers have discovered that New Zealand-grown avocados have unique nutritional qualities, with double the amount of Vitamin B6 and 20 percent more folate than those grown in other countries. “The article is misleading because it doesn’t mention New Zealand’s positive role in the international avocado industry. We don’t want Kiwis to be put off purchasing avocados based on incorrect information and a lack of knowledge and understanding about our successful and sustainable industry,” she says. Scoular says she is confident that Kiwis’ love affair with avocados will continue, and New Zealand Avocado encourages discussion around origin and sustainability. “It’s great the public are asking these questions, we want to ensure they are properly informed.” The New Zealand avocado season officially launched last week, it runs from August to April, but fresh avocados can be supplied year around in New Zealand. “Avocados are simply one of the best everyday simple, healthy, delicious foods. And it is wonderful the new research has uncovered that New Zealand avocados are especially healthy.” * http://www.nzherald.co.nz/lifestyle/news/article.cfm?c_id=6&objectid=11904488

Read More 10 Aug '17 New avocado research makes superfruit even more desirable Photo

New avocado research makes superfruit even more desirable

New Zealand researchers have discovered thatNew Zealand-grown avocados have unique nutritional qualities, with double the amount of vitamin B6 and 20 percent more folate than those grown in other countries. Demand for avocados is already surging in New Zealand and this nutrient packed superfruit is fast becoming a staple ingredient in the diets of high-performance athletes, busy parents and the elderly. The findings were announced at the New Zealand Avocado 2017-18 season launch held at Eden Park’s Centenary lounge  on Wednesday 9 August. The launch drew celebrities and included presentations from head international rugby strength and conditioning coach, ironman and avocado grower Nic Gill, and chef, author and avocado enthusiast Nadia Lim. New Zealand Avocado Chief Executive Jen Scoular says the new research is huge news for the nation. “We always knew avocados were good for us. It’s wonderful that we have now confirmed our locally grown fruit is especially healthy.” New Zealand avocados have a folate measurement of 81.6 ug* per 75g serving, providing 41 percent of the recommended daily intake.  They have a vitamin B6 measurement of 0.47mg per 75g serving, providing 30 percent of the recommended daily intake. Folate contributes to normal growth and development in children, and to good tissue growth in pregnancy. Vitamin B6 contributes to normal immune system function and helps reduce fatigue. But that’s not all - the superfruit is fullof healthy mono-unsaturated fats that help keep appetites under control, is low in sugar and sodium, a good source of dietary fibre, and is packed with a range of essential vitamins and minerals. These vitamins are particularly beneficial for athletes, mums, busy families and young professionals. Nic Gill, who is also an associate professor of Sport and Recreation at AUT, addressed the guests on achieving optimal performance.  Gill is credited by the likes of Jeff Wilson and Steve Hansen as being the key architect behind the best-conditioned team in the world. Avocados are “the Ferrari of fruit.” “Many athletes and high performing individuals eat avocados throughout the day, due to the nutrient dense and quality fuel they provide,” says Gill Celebrity chef and co-founder of My Food Bag, Nadia Lim, demonstrated healthy ways of using avocados at the launch, and spoke about the need to innovate for a healthier New Zealand. “Avocados are simply one of the best everyday simple, healthy delicious foods and Kiwis love learning new ways to enjoy them.” Nadia prepared for guests two salads; roast pumpkin, pear, avocado salad with blue cheese and raspberry balsamic dressing and harissa chicken, pumpkin and avocado salad with mint yoghurt dressing.  Launch guests included Art Green and Matilda Rice, Laura McGoldrick, Mikki Williden, Zac Franich and Viarni Bright who were served five different avocado dishes to enjoy. The latest research was conducted by the Phytochemical and Health team at Plant & Food Research throughout the 2015-16 season. New Zealand avocados were analysed in accredited laboratories in New Zealand following the protocols required by the New Zealand Food Composition Database, NZFCD. NZFCD is an independent validated source for the nutritional composition information for the foods consumed by New Zealanders. ug* is the correct symbol for the metric measurement microgram which is one millionth of a gram or one thousandth of a milligram.