U.S.: FDA declares avocados as "healthy" food

October 03 , 2016

While the health benefits of avocados are evident to those in the know, a recent decision from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will go along way towards clearing up misconceptions about the fruit's fat content. Avocado-shutterstock_247457608 npanorama

Avocados were included in the FDA's most recent proposed new guidance for the use of the nutrient content claim "healthy" on food labeling.

Long touted for the range of health and wellness benefits associated with them, avocados can finally bear the claim that sums it all up: avocados are healthy.

While 90% of consumers report that they purchase avocados based on the nutritional benefits they provide, 21% still say that the fat content in avocados is a barrier to purchase, despite the fact that the latest science demonstrates that the type of fat, rather than the total amount, is more important to good health.

The term “healthy” on food labels is regulated by the FDA and reserved for foods low in fat among other restrictions.

The past definition, which was established more than 20 years ago, focused on total fat content per serving, but the new proposed guidance considers the breakdown between good (unsaturated) and bad (saturated) fats in light of new evidence and dietary recommendations in the recently published 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA).

Avocados contain 8g of fat per 50g serving, over 75% of which are naturally good fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats).  Avocados comply with the new FDA guidance because they have a fat profile of predominantly naturally good monounsaturated fats.

"With the pervasiveness of many chronic diseases in the US population, consumers are thinking about the ways to make healthy food choices for themselves and their families” said HAB executive director Emiliano Escobedo.

“We applaud the FDA for its efforts in updating the guidance on what makes a food healthy, and recognizing that good fats play an important role in healthy diets.”

For industry, this means fresh avocados can start to use the term “healthy” in marketing and communications as well as packaging and point-of-sale materials. HAB is updating its messages and materials to include the claim.

Avocados are a healthy fruit that provide a good source of fiber and folate per 50g serving (one-third of a medium avocado), and nearly 20 vitamins, minerals and beneficial plant compounds that can enhance the nutrient quality of the diet.

A healthy fruit, avocados are virtually the only fruit that contain monounsaturated fat, and they are sodium, cholesterol and trans-fat free.

Photo: www.shutterstock.com

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