MISSION VIEJO, Calif. – Despite the influx of information about dietary fats becoming available to consumers nationwide, a new survey by the Hass Avocado Board (HAB) revealed that many Americans are still unclear about the definition and impact of “good” and “bad” fats.
In a survey of more than 2,000 adults, more than a third (36 percent) incorrectly thought that all fats play a role in increased cholesterol levels, compared to 42 percent of respondents in 2014. Respondents categorized as Millennials (aged 18-35) may feel more educated today about which foods to eat and which to avoid (66 percent), but they also incorrectly indicated that saturated fats are considered good fats (21 percent), up seven percent from 2014. While some progress has been made over the past two years, there’s still work to be done to educate consumers.
“Today’s consumer knows that there’s a difference between good fats and bad fats, but they can’t yet make the distinction,” said Emiliano Escobedo, Executive Director of the Hass Avocado Board. “This tells us that more education is needed to help differentiate these types of fats, and identify the role they play in our diets and the impact they have on our health.”
The survey indicated that there’s a hunger for healthy choices. Millennials try hardest (71 percent) among the overall population (67 percent) to make some or a strong effort to eat more foods high in good fats. Millennials also said they feel more educated today about which foods to eat and which to avoid, (66 percent) versus the entire population (62 percent). Encouragingly, more than three-quarters of overall respondents (82 percent) said they’re paying attention to this type of information. But this doesn’t equate to understanding.
Understanding Good vs. Bad Fats
Despite this level of confidence, there are still an alarming number of misconceptions. One in five people (21 percent) mistakenly thought that trans fats are good fats. The Millennial group responded similarly, at 22 percent.
Recognizing Health Benefits
Millennials (63 percent) trail behind the overall population (72 percent) in believing a positive impact of including good fats in their diets is the lowering of bad cholesterol. Even fewer Millennials (61 percent) feel including good fats lessen the risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
Identifying Sources of Good Fats
And while most respondents were fairly adept at indicating that nuts (76 percent), salmon (74 percent), olive oil (69 percent) and avocados (68 percent) contain good fats, Millennials haven’t quite caught on (71 percent, 65 percent, 59 percent and 65 percent, respectively).
Specifically, more Hispanics (73 percent) know that avocados are a good source of fat than the population at large.
According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, small shifts in food choices can make a big difference; including a shift from solid fats like those found in trans fats and saturated fats, to oils, like the oil in fresh avocados. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, saturated and trans fats raise LDL (or ‘bad’) cholesterol levels in the blood, thereby increasing the risk of heart disease. That’s why it’s advisable to choose foods that have good – monounsaturated and polyunsaturated – fats as part of a healthful diet.
Sources of Naturally Good Fats
Avocados are virtually the only fruit with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats or “good fats.” In fact, over 75 percent of the fat in avocados is good fat that acts as a nutrient booster by helping to increase the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients. They are also cholesterol free and do not raise LDL, or bad, cholesterol.
“Fresh avocado contributes naturally good fats to one’s diet, and is a wholesome, delicious and satisfying swap in an individual’s healthy eating plan for foods high in saturated fats,” says Nikki Ford, PhD, Director of Nutrition, Hass Avocado Board. “We are committed to continuing to educate Americans about the health benefits of this fruit – and good fats in general – until consumers can easily identify good fat types and their benefits.”
About the Survey
The results are based on a survey conducted among a sample of 2,035 adults comprising 1,010 men and 1,025 women 18 years of age and older, living in the continental United States, between March 7-13, 2016. A sample size of 2,035 carries a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points. The survey was conducted by CARAVAN®, an omnibus service of ORC International.
About the Hass Avocado Board
The Hass Avocado Board (HAB) is an agriculture promotion group established in 2002 to promote the consumption of Hass Avocados in the United States. A 12-member board representing domestic producers and importers of Hass Avocados directs HAB’s promotion, research and information programs under supervision of the United States Department of Agriculture. Funding for HAB comes from Hass avocado producers and importers in the United States.
In 2010, HAB established a Nutrition Research program to increase awareness and improve understanding of the unique benefits of avocados to human health and nutrition. Fresh Hass avocados are a delicious, cholesterol-free, whole food source of naturally good fats. The Nutrition Research program is an integral part of Love One Today, HAB’s multiyear, science-based, food and wellness education program. Love One Today encourages Americans to include fresh Hass avocados in everyday healthy eating plans to increase fruit and vegetable intake.
For more information visit www.LoveOneToday.com or follow HAB on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube.
Source: Hass Avocado Board