Avocados are turning a negative into a positive in the area of nutrition, according to growers, shippers and marketing agents.

In the past, they said, the fruit’s oil content was perceived as a nutritional liability.

“Consumers used to consider it this highly oily piece of fruit that wasn’t good for you, but the California Avocado Commission and, really, the industry as a whole, have done an excellent job of turning around those perceptions,” said Ed Odron, owner of Ed Odron Produce Marketing Consulting, Stockton, Calif.

That’s one reason avocados have bounded out of the “specialty” and “seasonal” categories to a staple, at least in many markets, Odron said.

The Irvine, Calif.-based Hass Avocado Board, which promotes hass avocados from all countries that ship the product to the U.S., has shifted its emphasis to the nutritional aspects of the fruit. The board says it anticipates results of numerous studies to be published by early 2013, and those results likely will be central to its promotional efforts in the short and long terms.

The Irvine-based California Avocado Commission, an established promoter of avocados’ nutritional benefits, lists nearly two dozen nutrients in the fruit and promotes it as good for heart health.

Promoting the product’s health benefits is a good plan, said Dana Thomas, president of Bloomington, Calif.-based Index Fresh Inc.

“As that nutritional research becomes available, Chile, Mexico and California will use it, so there’s a lot of good things coming out of that,” Thomas said.

“It’s a great-tasting fruit, and it’s always important to keep getting that message out,” Thomas said.

“The California Avocado Commission started working on this many years ago and, of course, turned around the old perception of avocados and made people aware of the nutritional benefits,” said Phil Henry, owner of Escondido, Calif.-based Henry Avocado.

New research findings will only strengthen that message, Henry said.

“HAB, of course, is focusing on the nutrition and then providing information to the various commissions, and they can use that information in the advertising and their various promotions,” he said.