Cal Poly Pomona is looking for a few good men.
Men who like avocados.
Max Johnson, a graduate student in the College of Agriculture, is launching a research study to determine whether regular consumption of avocados can improve blood cholesterol levels. Participants in the study ¿ men ages 18 to 40 who might have elevated cholesterol but are in good health overall ¿ will receive a medium-size Hass avocado daily for eight weeks. That¿s 56 free cut-and-ready-to-eat avocados in return for six visits to the Student Health Center for minor blood work, five assessments of body composition, and a commitment to complete three 24-hour food-consumption logs. Participants will also receive numerous recipes to ensure that avocados remain an interesting part of the daily diet. Johnson is looking to line up all volunteers by the end of September.
Professor Bonny Burns-Whitmore, Johnson¿s faculty mentor in the department of human nutrition and food science, says this is the first study of its kind in the United States. (Studies have been conducted in Australia and Mexico.) The tasty fruit is high in antioxidants and monounsaturated fats, which Burns-Whitmore says is not a bad thing.
¿People should not have a reflexive fear of fats,¿ she says. ¿There are essential fats, such as omega 6 and omega 3, that are found in avocados.¿
Johnson says studies show that people on diets high in monounsaturated fat, or MUFA, do not experience a significant weight gain, and he does not expect subjects in his research to add pounds because of their avocado consumption.
¿Those who take part in the research should be able to eat avocados with a clear conscience as part of a regular diet,¿ he says.
Johnson¿s interest in food runs deep. He attended culinary school and worked at several high-end restaurants before enrolling at Oregon State, where he majored in food science and minored in chemistry. It was during his time on campus that he ¿became totally enamored with looking at whole foods and at food as medicine.¿
Put simply, unprocessed foods contain a cornucopia of minerals, acids, vitamins and compounds that play a role in a person¿s metabolism. The right combination of whole foods can promote a healthful lifestyle, but much remains to be learned. Johnson¿s avocado research is one step in that direction.
Besides eating avocados daily for eight weeks, participants will maintain a regular, avocado-free diet for eight weeks as well. The ¿randomized crossover design,¿ as it is called, will allow Johnson and Burns-Whitmore to assess each participant individually, which increases the reliability of the results.
Those who are interested in participating in the study should contact Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.