The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced that fresh Hass avocados, as well as all other raw fruits and vegetables, now qualify for the “Dietary Saturated Fat and Cholesterol and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease” health claim. In other words, fresh Hass avocados can now be labeled heart-healthy, according to the Federal Regulations.
The interim final rule, effective immediately, qualifies all raw fruits and vegetables, including fresh Hass avocados, as heart-healthy, allowing fruits and vegetables that did not previously comply with the "low fat" definition and/or the minimum nutrient content requirement to make the claim. This is in line with the FDA’s recent guidance to redefine the “healthy” nutrient content claim, which took into consideration 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), which qualified avocados to make that claim.
Aligning dietary guidance with current nutrition science, the ruling reinforces the large body of science suggesting fruits and vegetables support heart health, including a study that was recently published in the Journal of the American Heart Association that investigated the potential beneficial effects of eating fresh avocados on risk factors for cardiovascular disease. The study demonstrated that participants (overweight but otherwise healthy adults) who incorporated one fresh Hass avocado into the diet daily for five weeks reduced LDL (bad) cholesterol levels more than a moderate fat diet without avocado or a low fat diet without avocado. While the study can’t be generalized to all populations, it provides further evidence that avocados may have positive effect on cardiovascular disease biomarkers.
“This ruling is a huge opportunity for the entire Hass avocado industry, as it confirms that fresh avocados play an important nutritional role in a heart-healthy diet,” said Emiliano Escobedo, Executive Director of the Hass Avocado Board (HAB). “All fresh Hass avocados have long been recognized for their range of health and wellness benefits, and now we can more directly promote their positive role in a heart-healthy diet.”