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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 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

Read More 12 Dec '16 Taste of Auckland - a great success Photo

Taste of Auckland - a great success

We celebrated our amazing product and enjoyed mixing with foodies at the recent Taste of Auckland festival at Western Springs, Auckland held 17-20 November. We used it as a fun team building event, where seven of the team were involved in preparing and sharing over 7700 delicious samples for more than 6,000 visitors to our stand. It was great to have Nadia Lim join us on the Saturday and Sunday to interact with visitors to our stand and demonstrate three terrific avocado recipes – avocado bliss balls, avocado chocolate mousse and avocado pina colada smoothies. Nadia told her audiences about her love of avocados, her favourite ways to eat them or feed them to her 7-month old baby Bodhi, and her key avocado ripening and storing tips. Taste of Auckland is the largest food and wine festival in New Zealand and is held during the main part of the avocado season, so it’s perfect for promoting our avocados. This was our third year at Taste and it was a great success. We receive incredibly positive feedback from guests who loved our avocado samples and showed a real interest in the industry. For more images from the event check out our Facebook page www.facebook.com/nzavocado and for the recipes we shared check out our website http://www.nzavocado.co.nz/online/recipes.csn.

Read More 08 Dec '16 Get creative with avocados this Christmas! Photo

Get creative with avocados this Christmas!

Avocados are in abundant supply this season and with Christmas just around the corner, they are the perfect addition to your Christmas holiday menu. We enlisted the help of five of our favourite foodie bloggers - Nicola Galloway Homegrown Kitchen, Pregnancy Exercise, Pretty Damn Good For You, Katie in the Kitchen, Dom's Kitchen - and asked them to create an amazing avocado Christmas creation. Check out the recipes they came up with in the links below. Nicola Galloway Homegrown Kitchen Chilled cucumber avocado soup Pregnancy Exercise Avocado mousse with smoked salmon and cream cheese on a kumara crisp Super avocado breakfast smoothie Pretty Damn Good For You Avocado, asparagus and mint rice paper rolls with almond satay sauce Katie in the Kitchen Best guacamole ever Dom's Kitchen Avocado ice cream 

Read More 08 Dec '16 Inspiring The Next Generation Of Avocado Lovers  Photo

Inspiring The Next Generation Of Avocado Lovers

Leading nutritionist Claire Turnbull is encouraging Kiwi parents to introduce avocado into their children’s diets as soon as possible and has invented an amazing new range of recipes to tempt young taste buds these school holidays. The popular nutritionist, author, speaker and Healthy Food Guide contributor says encouraging your children to eat avocado will help set them up with healthy food habits for life.  The delicious fruit is also low in sugar and sodium and high in fibre, which we all know is important, and helps to keep small tummies feeling fuller for longer.  To foster a life-long love of avocados, Turnbull has developed a range of kid-friendly recipes including purees, ice-creams and a loveable ‘morepork’ made entirely of fruit and vegetables which almost looks too cute to eat! These fun and creative recipes will keep your kids well-nourished and well-entertained during the upcoming school holidays. When it comes to dessert, Turnbull has perfected two delicious ice-cream recipes – chocolate avocado ice-cream and white chocolate avocado ice-cream. "Children love sweet treats but a lot of treats are packed with sugar and unhealthy fats. Avocados are the perfect base for super healthy desserts and treats for kids. Full of healthy fats, their creamy rich texture makes them an ideal ingredient to make ice-cream.” Alternatively, these recipes can also be made into popsicles for a great mid-afternoon snack. Turnbull’s own young son, Zac, loves moreporks and is the inspiration behind her adorable ‘avocado morepork’. Using half a peeled avocado for the body, you can use mushrooms, carrots, celery, capsicum and apple to finish off your delicious creation that kids won’t be able to resist.  "My little boy LOVES moreporks and he enjoyed eating his very own avocado one with some homemade brown rice sushi with salmon, avocado and veggies. If you can make meals fun to eat in this way you’re more likely to convince fussy eaters to give something new a try. With school holidays just around the corner, getting kids in the kitchen creating their own moreporks is also great fun,” she explains. NZ Avocado Chief Executive Jen Scoular is thrilled with Turnbull’s new recipe suggestions which give parents plenty of inspiration without making life too difficult. "Every parent knows time is precious so whipping up these quick purees and ice-creams is a great way to create a nutritious meal or treat in a short space of time,” Scoular says. Avocado is also a perfect first food for babies.  "It can be made incredibly smooth initially when babies are just starting to learn to eat, and then lumpier as babies progress and are able to manage this texture,” Turnbull explains. "Avocado’s smooth, creamy consistency and excellent nutritional content make it an ideal first food,” Turnbull explains. "They’re packed with almost 20 vitamins and nutrients, are full of healthy fats, are great for energy and the development of your little one’s immune, brain and nervous system.” Avocado blends easily with other fruits and vegetables to make delicious puree mixes such as avocado and mango, avocado and broccoli, or avocado and pea baby food.  "We all want our children to grow up eating a healthy diet and avocados pack a big nutritional punch. The sooner you can introduce this delicious-tasting fruit into their daily diet, the better. We hope New Zealand parents enjoy giving these new recipes a try.” says Scoular. Find all of Claire’s recipes, as well as other great avocado recipes for kids here