Avocados are native to Mexico and Central America.
Commercially, they are ripened after harvesting and are cultivated in tropical and Mediterranean regions.
Avocado is commonly called Alligator pear and butter fruit.
Avocados are believed to act by lowering the low-density lipoproteins (bad cholesterol) and improving levels of high-density lipoprotein (good cholesterol).
Avocados contain as much as 20 vitamins and minerals in one serving, including vitamin B, C, and E. They are rich in lutein, which works wonders for your eyes; and folate, which plays an important role in cell repair.
They are also low in sugar and contain fiber, which keeps you ‘full’ for a longer time . Owing to such nutritional benefits, avocado has been named a superfood.
According to NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) analysis, the official serving of avocado is one-half of a fruit which comes out to about 68g.
One serving is rich in the following nutrients and phytoconstituents :
- Dietary fibers
- Vitamin A, E, C, K1, B2, B3(Niacin), B6
- Pantothenic acid
- High-monounsaturated fatty acids: Oleic acid is the major one.
Avocado oil has the following components :
- 71% monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA)
- 13% Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA)
- 16% Saturated fatty acids (SFA)
5 Reasons Why Avocados are Good for Weight Loss and Management
These components improve lipid profiles of individuals consuming avocados with other low-fat fruits and vegetables.
They also enhance the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.
High quantities of monounsaturated fatty acids are responsible for controlling the blood cholesterol and hence help in effective weight management.
These are present in the form of a water-based matrix, which further masks the taste of the fibre present in it.
Though it may sound paradoxical, avocados do have fat. Lots of it! But "good" fat.
Oleic acid is the major component of the MUFA (71%) which has a role in reducing the LDL-cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and enhancing levels of HDL-cholesterol (good cholesterol) in blood.
Oleic acid also has a relatively high boiling point, thereby qualifying avocado oil to be used in cooking.
Researchers claim that ‘Mediterranean diet’ is an effective way to curb cholesterol related problems.
This was practiced long ago by inhabitants of Greece and Southern Italy. All they did was consume high amounts (approx. 29% daily intake) of oleic acid on a routine basis.
Fewer incidences of atherosclerotic plaques were recorded among these groups. This was attributed to the property of oleic acid being able to reduce overall bad cholesterol and avoid potentiation of heart diseases.
Another study conducted in Mexico stated that MUFA plays an important role in bringing down the total serum cholesterol levels in hyperlipidemic patients.
What it means? The oleic acid present in avocado oil acts a fat-manager for your body and helps it get rid of unwanted fats.
Also, it promotes levels of good cholesterol. Owing to its heat induced-oxidation resistant characteristics, avocado oil is a favourable candidate for cooking.
2. Avocados are rich in fibre
Avocado consists of about 7% fibre. This amounts to about 4.6 grams per one-half of a fruit.
Fibre intake has shown to induce a feeling of satiation which keeps you away from over-eating .
Foods high in fibre essentially help in controlling obesity as it takes care of satiation and satiety (yes, the two are different terms!).
Consuming fibre is known to decrease the risk of developing coronary diseases.
Fibres improve functioning of the intestine and also decrease absorption of carbohydrates and fats. Thus, the person can go without eating for a relatively long period of time.
What it means? Fibres are proved to be essential parts of diet for tackling obesity and Avocados do that for you!
3. Avocados help to prevent insulin resistance and hyperlipidemia
Avocados contain very fewer amounts of sugar as compared to other fruits. One-half avocado comprises of approximately 0.2 grams of sugar .
Major sugar found in avocados is a seven-carbon D-mannoheptulose along with its reduced form, perseitol.
Mannoheptulose helps in an effective reversal of insulin resistance and in reducing glycolysis.
This, in turn, helps in controlling insulin resistance-related obesity.
Presence of Magnesium (20mg per one-half medium-sized fruit ) has shown to decrease fat absorption which helps in the treatment of postprandial hyperlipidemia.
What it means? Avocados have very less sugar which makes them ideal for being called weight loss fruit. Mannoheptulose and Magnesium help in reducing overall serum cholesterol levels. Thus, these help your body lose fat.
4. Avocados are rich in antioxidants:
Avocados contain a good combination of Vitamin C and Vitamin E (6mg and 1.34 mg per one-half fruit).
Vitamin C recycles Vitamin E and ensures that a certain level of antioxidant is present in the blood to prevent oxidation of low-density lipoproteins.
Vitamin C has better activity in CVD patients with obesity and hypertension.
A study showed that simply adding avocado oil to your salad could increase the antioxidant absorption.
This would further result in decreasing potentially harmful effects which result due to oxidation of LDL-cholesterol.
What it means? Antioxidants act by slowing the rate of oxidation of LDL-cholesterol. This inhibits cholesterol deposition in body.
5. Carotenoids and Phenolics
Avocados are rich in xanthophyll carotenoids – lutein and zeaxanthin (185μg per one-half fruit ). Xanthophylls are fat-soluble antioxidants which reduce the amount of circulating low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.
Avocados also contain moderate levels of phenolics which have functions similar to that of carotenoids.
These together help your body fight bad cholesterol and decrease their levels in the blood.
Points to Remember
One-half fruit of avocado (68grams) has approximately 114 calories.
Hence, excessive consumption will lead to weight gain.
Moreover, if you fill yourself up with avocados, you may not have the appetite for eating other foods which provide a balanced diet. This may result in nutrient deficiencies in the long run.
Research Study - Avocado for Hunger Pangs!
Research states that the inclusion of Hass avocado (a particular type or cultivar) in lunch brings a feeling of satisfaction and can aid in weight management.
What happened in the study?
In the 3 one day study period that was scheduled a week apart, 26 overweight and moderately obese individuals were asked to consume the meals provided by the researchers. Among the meals a modification was made in the lunch meal as follows:
- Control meal: avocado-free
- Avocado inclusive: control meal including an avocado but equal in calories
- Avocado added: avocado added to control meal, therefore, higher in calorie
Approximately ½ an avocado was included in the lunch meal. Appetite sensations, blood glucose, and insulin levels were measured before and after lunch.
What was the outcome?
Adding avocado to a lunch meal brought about a 26% increase in satisfaction and 40% decreased desire to eat as compared to the avocado-free control lunch meal over a 3 hour period.
Whereas a 22% increase in satisfaction and 24% decreased the desire to eat was observed with consumption of isocaloric avocado included diet when compared to the control diet.
Both the treatment diets reduced energy intake at dinner and evening snack.
The inclusion of avocado at meals reduced insulin levels post meal and this could be of importance in case individuals with insulin resistance and suffering from diabetes.
Including avocado in their meals could help balance blood glucose levels.
How did this occur?
Avocado is classified as a medium dense food and when included in a meal it increases the volume of the diet.
This causes a sensation of fullness and reduces energy intake. It is also a rich source of dietary fiber which is said to modulate glucose and insulin levels and to increase satiety.
Avocado also provided an additional 112kcal which could be the reason for increased satisfaction and reduced desire to eat.
Also, avocados contain a unique sugar (D-manno-heptulose) which doesn’t contribute to energy but can influence blood glucose and support weight management.
What does this mean?
According to the study, including around a half of avocado (around 75 g) in lunch can help reduce energy intake in subsequent meals by curbing hunger and causing satisfaction.
Also, this practice is beneficial to insulin-resistant individuals, as avocado can influence post-meal insulin levels.
You can replace certain portions of your meal with avocado to have a more satisfied feeling post meal. Apart from curbing your hunger, avocado has a wide range of health benefits which you could make use of.
The low amounts of SFA and high amounts of MUFA make avocados an ideal agent for weight control.
Oleic acid, the major MUFA component, along with antioxidants, carotenoids, and phenolics help reduce the bad cholesterol levels in your body.
People consuming avocados were found to have low body weight, BMI, waist circumference and higher levels of HDL-cholesterol.
Moreover, having a controlled diet alone won’t help in effective weight loss. Regular exercise is definitely an added advantage for people willing to lose weight.
So, eat well and exercise, the weight will take care of itself!