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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 13 Jun '17 Biosecurity preparedness for the avocado industry  Photo

Biosecurity preparedness for the avocado industry

Biosecurity preparedness for the avocado industry NZ Avocado is seeking industry feedback on the intention to sign the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) Operational Agreement (OA).  Just like the Fruit Fly OA, this is a threat specific arrangement under the Government Industry Agreement (GIA) biosecurity partnership. All horticulture groups were asked to undertake research to determine if they will be impacted by the arrival of BMSB into New Zealand. NZ Avocado has now completed this assessment and believes that we would be a minor beneficiary for the collective readiness and response activities that industries and MPI will undertake. Although the threat to avocados is believed to be minimal there remains a number of unknowns as BMSB has not yet invaded some of the major avocado producing areas of California so the investigation into the bugs potential to impact avocados continues.  The conclusion of the NZAGA Executive is that we should be part of the BMSB Operational Agreement. However, as the impact to avocados is minimal we have negotiated a very lowimpact rating and proportionate cost share (0.2%) with a well-defined fiscal cap. This ability to fix an industry’s financial liability through the Operational Agreement process is one of the main advantages of joining GIA.  With over 150 BMSB interception events in the 2016-17 risk period (September to April), this invasive bug has a high potential of invading NZ in the coming years. Through the GIA partnership we would want to help mitigate the impact of BMSB as they will also be a significant household nuisance for growers. See video here Also see the following video produced by MPI on the potential impacts to horticulture in New Zealand. See video here   Please contact Brad Siebert if you wish to discuss this further. 

Read More 17 May '17 On The Way To Meet Audacious Goals - Growers Rewarded With Record New Zealand Avocado Season Photo

On The Way To Meet Audacious Goals - Growers Rewarded With Record New Zealand Avocado Season

The New Zealand avocado industry has just reported its highest value ever with avocados sales reaching $198 million, an increase of $64 million on last season and $62 million higher than the previous record of $136 million in 2013-14. Volume too was a record 7.7 million trays in the 2016-17 season - an 84% increase on last season. The season saw significant increases in demand across all markets, with Australia remaining the industry’s largest market with an almost insatiable consumer demand. Over 70% of New Zealand avocados are exported with the remaining avocados sold in New Zealand. New Zealanders too are finding more and tastier ways to use avocados, and starting to add them regularly to their shopping basket. Jen Scoular, Chief Executive of NZ Avocado, says the industry’s Primary Growth Partnership programme: NZ Avocados Go Global, has provided a major boost to the sector. "We are part of an industry that has gone from $70 million in value in 2013 to an impressive $200 million in 2017. The Go Global programme gave us the platform as an industry to develop a strategy with audacious goals of quadrupling sales and trebling productivity in ten years. That strategy, and Crown investment has been implemented and resulted in fantastic growth in value right across the supply chain” says Scoular. "The independent review of the NZ Avocados Go Global programme said the five-year programme had made a major contribution to the New Zealand avocado industry,” says Scoular. "The review noted that we’ve achieved a step change in the way the industry operates and it’s now a much more trusting, collaborative, cohesive, communicative and co-ordinated industry, with a correspondingly greater public profile.” Alistair Petrie, Chair of the Avocado Exporter Council said, "We saw a superb increase in demand that was matched by excellent planning and supply from harvest through to delivery to customers in market. Versatility, health benefits and the amazing taste of avocados are the key drivers for that demand.” Ashby Whitehead, Chair of NZ Avocado, says the industry is in the best state it has been for many years. "With the huge increase in value from avocados and much higher visibility of the global opportunities, we are seeing strong growth throughout the industry. Demand for new trees has resulted in a near trebling of production at nurseries, large commercial investors in Northland are converting dairy farms to avocado orchards and smaller orchards are maximising the productivity of their orchards. Growers will be very happy with their returns and are looking at further investment. It’s a very exciting time to be in the New Zealand avocado industry.”

Read More 01 May '17 Where have all the avocados gone Photo

Where have all the avocados gone

Ever wondered where avocados in NZ come from or why the supply changes through out the year? We've created a video that explains it all!  Check it out here

Read More 03 Mar '17 New Zealand's Best Avocado Cafe Announced Photo

New Zealand's Best Avocado Cafe Announced

The hunt for the most popular avocado dish in New Zealand is over after thousands cast their votes. New Zealand Avocado invited cafes and restaurants throughout the country to send in their best-selling avocado recipes to battle it out via a Facebook poll amongst their 22,000 diehard New Zealand Avocado Facebook fans. The competition was tight, with nearly 2,000 avocado aficionados casting votes for 22 eateries from Auckland to Queenstown. Ultimately it was Best Ugly Bagels’ recipe for T.A.B – Tomato, Avocado and fresh Basil with Al Brown Lemon and Fennel infused Olive Oil, served on a toasted sesame bagel, that came out on top, winning the cafe the title of ‘New Zealand's Best Avocado Cafe 2017’.  Jeremy Coombes of Best Ugly Bagels, said this bagel consistently ranks in their top three sellers all year round.  "People are always raving about avocado on toast, but it’s even better on a freshly baked bagel! Add juicy sliced tomato on top and the combination of the tomato’s acidity and the creaminess of avocado - you really can’t beat it.” Best Ugly Bagels is owned by celebrity chef Al Brown who was delighted with the win. "We are thrilled to win this award and absolutely love using avocados here at Best Ugly Bagels.” The competition highlighted the versatility of avocados with mouth-watering recipes such as a scallop, bacon and avocado salad, an avocado, tomato, balsamic & watermelon salsa with crispy bacon and a tapas-style avocado addiction platter. New Zealand Avocado CEO Jen Scoular said the response to the competition had been fantastic. "We were so impressed by the calibre of dishes sent in and love that we had representation from cafes nationwide.” This season has produced the largest New Zealand avocado harvest on record. New Zealanders have already consumed over 40 million avocados and the season’s not over yet. Growth in demand for avocados in New Zealand has been phenomenal, never before have we seen such a large volume be consumed so quickly in New Zealand. Scoular points to a huge collaborative effort between avocado wholesale marketers, supermarkets and NZ Avocado over the past few seasons as helping to make consumers aware of avocados amazing health benefits and versatility. NZ Avocado Market Manager Bevan Jelley said NZ Avocado’s increased focus on social media is helping take engagement with everyday New Zealanders to new levels. "New Zealand’s best avocado café competition was great because it benefited consumers, cafes and New Zealand’s avocado growers.” Consumer demand for avocados continues to grow in both at-home use and the food service industry with avocado dishes, such as the famed avocado on toast, becoming increasingly popular on menus nationwide. "Demand for amazing avocados is very high because avocados hit three sweet spots for consumers – they’re healthy, they are super versatile and they taste great,” explains Scoular." New research on the specific nutrient properties of avocados from New Zealand is expected to produce exciting results in the months ahead.” Check out the video here  See the recipe here