10 SEPTEMBER 2017 AVOCADO NEWS New research from Plant and Food Research shows that avocados contain not only compounds that support cardiovascular health and blood glucose regulation with anti-inflammatory effects, but gut bacteria metabolises the dietary fibre in the avocado to produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) as a result of fermentation. SCFAs are associated with a number of health benefits, including the stimulation of cells to produce antimicrobial peptides called defensins, which play an important role in immune protection. Researcher Dr Gunaranjan Paturi says the study is the first to examine the direct effect of avocados on gut health, where rats were fed different diets that included five, 10 or 15% avocado for six weeks. Results showed higher concentrations of defensins in the gut tissues of the high avocado-fed rats, he says, and significantly more goblet cells in the gut wall in rats on the 15% avocado diet. This finding implies avocado also positively influences gut mucus secretion. As this trial has worked with a known safe and beneficial food, Paturi says the next step could be a move straight into testing with humans. New Zealand Avocado chief executive Jen Scoular says the research is exciting. “It potentially opens the door to a whole new area of benefit we hadn’t seen before,” she says. “It would be great to see this research followed up to find out if it translates into real benefits for human gut health.” MEDIA ARTICLE CAUSES AVOCADO CONFUSION Chief executive Jen Scoular says the organisation fielded several concerned calls for clarification. “The article is misleading because it doesn’t mention New Zealand’s positive role in the international avocado industry,” Scoular says. “We don’t want Kiwis to be put off purchasing avocados based on incorrect information and a lack of knowledge and understanding about our successful and sustainable industry.” Scoular says New Zealand does not import any fresh avocados, and all fruit grown nationwide is consumed by Kiwis and exported overseas. All fresh avocados sold in New Zealand supermarkets must comply with food safety protocols to ensure they are free of unsafe chemical residues and are safe for consumption, and recent research has found New Zealand-grown avocados have unique nutritional qualities with double the amount of Vitamin B6 and 20% more folate than those grown in other countries. Scoular says she is confident that Kiwis’ love affair with avocados will continue, and New Zealand Avocado encourages discussion around origin and sustainability. “It’s great the public are asking these questions - we want to ensure they are properly informed,” she says. The 2017/18 New Zealand avocado season has officially launched from now until April, but fresh avocados can be supplied year-round in New Zealand. “Avocados are simply one of the best everyday simple, healthy, delicious foods. And it is wonderful the new research has uncovered that New Zealand avocados are especially healthy.” The industry’s vision and strategy is set to quadruple sales to $280m and triple productivity by 2023, with the help of innovation and collaboration with stakeholders and new partnerships with the Crown and Crown Research Institutes. New Zealand currently produces just 2% of the global supply but is the ninth largest international avocado exporter, with more than 4000ha of avocado trees planted primarily in the Bay of Plenty and Northland. GUT HEALTH HELPED BY AVOCADO New Zealand Avocado has moved quickly to assure consumers of its product that all fresh avocados eaten nationwide are grown here, after a media article looking at Mexican growing practices caused “confusion.” If you’ve always believed avocados are good for your guts, you’d be right.
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