Five Reasons to Recommend Avocado to your Clients
This gorgeous green fruit with its creamy, smooth texture is the perfect addition to creamy soups and warming Autumn meals. But it’s not just about avocado’s taste and texture that makes it so special. Here are five healthy reasons why your clients need avocado.
Avocados for heart health and cholesterol lowering
Avocados contain all the heart healthy nutrients: healthy monounsaturated fats, plant sterols, fibre, vitamin C, vitamin E, potassium and polyphenol antioxidants. As a result when eaten as part of a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables 50-75g* of avocado a day can:
- Reduce total cholesterol 1-5
- Reduce LDL “lousy” cholesterol 1-5
- Increase the size of LDL particles – bigger is better than smaller6
- Maintain HDL “healthy” cholesterol1,4,5
- Prevent oxidative stress and inflammation response - improving the health of blood vessels7,8
- Reduce blood pressure9
- Together all of these help contribute to heart health.9
*Note: 50g of avocado is equivalent to 1/3 of a smaller or a ¼ of a larger avocado.
Avocados for weight management
There have been three studies looking at the affects of avocado on weight management:
- 200g of avocado can be exchanged for just 30g of other types of fats e.g. margarine and oils in an energy restricted diet and still result in reductions in body weight, BMI and body fat.10
- Adding 75g of avocado to lunch can increase satiety by 25% and decrease desire to eat by 30% for 3-5 hours after a meal – great for reducing mid afternoon snacking.11
- Regular avocado eaters have a lower body weight (approx 3.4kg less) and reduced waist circumference (by 4cm) than those who don’t eat avocado.12
Avocados effect on insulin
Avocado is a food worth including in the diets of those with type 2 diabetes, pre-diabetes and metabolic syndrome because of their positive effects on insulin.1,11 Adding healthy fats to meals that contain ingredients rich in carbohydrate can slow the digestion of the carbohydrates and hence reduce the rise in blood glucose following a meal. This means healthy fats have a glycemic index-lowering effect. We have seen this effect in studies on nuts14-16 and olive oil17 but to date there has been only one research study done using avocado. This study found no change in blood glucose following a meal with avocado but it did find improvements in insulin levels.11 While more research is needed we could assume that any healthy fat added to carbohydrate meals could have similar effects e.g. almonds tossed through a stir fry with rice or avocado smashed on toast.
Those with diabetes also have an increased risk of heart disease so any positive effects on cholesterol and triglycerides13 are also a win with this group.
Avocados improve diet quality
Avocados are a nutrient dense fruit and a recent analysis of the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) over a seven year period has found that those who are regular avocado eaters have a better diet quality score and better nutrient intakes than those who don’t eat avocado.12
Avocado for eye health
Gorgeous green avocados contain the colourful carotenoid pigments beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin which are needed by the body for eye health. Avocado also helps the body absorb these pigments from other vegetables. A study in 2005 found when 75-150g of avocado was added to a salad or eaten with salsa – the amount of carotenoids absorbed from salad vegetables and salsa was enhanced18. These carotenoids are fat-soluble so they move into the healthy fats in avocado as they are digested. Avocado also helps convert these provitamin A carotenoids into vitamin A in the body19. Both carotenoids and vitamin A play a role in eye health. The macula lutea is a yellow oval spot near the optic nerve in the eye that is responsible for central vision. Macular degeneration is an age related condition where central vision is affected which can lead to blindness. Lutein and zeaxanthin are what makes the macula lutea yellow in appearance and vitamin A forms part of rhodipsin or visual purple which helps us see in levels of low light.
Interestingly lutein and zeaxanthin are carried to the eye on HDL cholesterol20 – fortunately avocado also helps boost HDL cholesterol levels1,4,5.
So many reason to recommend 50g of avocado a day to your clients.
- López Ledesma R, et al. Monounsaturated fatty acid (avocado) rich diet for mild hypercholesterolemia. Arch Med Res. 1996 Winter;27(4):519-23.
- Carranza-Madrigal J, et al Effects of a vegetarian diet vs. a vegetarian diet enriched with avocado in hypercholesterolemic patients. Arch Med Res. 1997 Winter;28(4):537-41.
- Carranza J, et al [Effects of avocado on the level of blood lipids in patients with phenotype II and IV dyslipidemias]. Arch Inst Cardiol Mex. 1995 Jul-Aug;65(4):342-8.
- Colquhoun DM, et al Comparison of the effects on lipoproteins and apolipoproteins of a diet high in monounsaturated fatty acids, enriched with avocado, and a high-carbohydrate diet. Am J Clin Nutr. 1992 Oct;56(4):671-7.
- Alvizouri-Muñoz M, et al. Effects of avocado as a source of monounsaturated fatty acids on plasma lipid levels. Arch Med Res. 1992 Winter;23(4):163-7.
- Wang L et al. Effect of a Moderate Fat Diet With and Without Avocados on Lipoprotein Particle Number, Size and Subclasses in Overweight and Obese Adults: A Randomized, Controlled Trial. J Am Heart Assoc. 2015;4:e001355 doi: 10.1161/JAHA.114.001355)
- Li Z, et al. Hass avocado modulates postprandial vascular reactivity and postprandial inflammatory responses to a hamburger meal in healthy volunteers. Food Funct. 2013 Feb 26;4(3):384-91.
- Khor A, et al. Postprandial oxidative stress is increased after a phytonutrient-poor food but not after a kilojoule-matched phytonutrient-rich food. Nutr Res. 2014 May;34(5):391-400.
- FSANZ Food Standards Code Standards 1.2.7 Nutrition, health and related claims https://www.comlaw.gov.au/Series/F2013L00054
- Pieterse Z, et al. Substitution of high monounsaturated fatty acid avocado for mixed dietary fats during an energy-restricted diet: effects on weight loss, serum lipids, fibrinogen, and vascular function. Nutrition. 2005 Jan;21(1):67-75.
- Wien M, Haddad E, Oda K, Sabaté J. A randomized 3×3 crossover study to evaluate the effect of Hass avocado intake on post-ingestive satiety, glucose and insulin levels, and subsequent energy intake in overweight adults. Nutr J. 2013 Nov 27;12:155
- Fulgoni VL 3rd, Dreher M, Davenport AJ. Avocado consumption is associated with better diet quality and nutrient intake, and lower metabolic syndrome risk in US adults: results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001-2008. Nutr J. 2013 Jan 2;12:1.
- Lerman-Garber I, et al.Effect of a high-monounsaturated fat diet enriched with avocado in NIDDM patients. Diabetes Care. 1994 Apr;17(4):311-5.
- Cohen AE, Johnston CS. Almond ingestion at mealtime reduces postprandial glycemia and chronic ingestion reduces hemoglobin A(1c) in individuals with well-controlled type 2 diabetes mellitus.Metabolism. 2011 Sep;60(9):1312-7.
- Mori AM, Considine RV, Mattes RD. Acute and second-meal effects of almond form in impaired glucose tolerant adults: a randomized crossover trial. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2011 Jan 28;8(1):6.
- Kendall CW et al. The impact of pistachio intake alone or in combination with high-carbohydrate foods on post-prandial glycemia. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2011 Jun;65(6):696-702.
- Paniagua JAet al A MUFA-rich diet improves posprandial glucose, lipid and GLP-1 responses in insulin-resistant subjects. J Am Coll Nutr. 2007 Oct;26(5):434-44.
- Unlu NZ, et al. Carotenoid absorption from salad and salsa by humans is enhanced by the addition of avocado or avocado oil. J Nutr. 2005 Mar;135(3):431-6.
- Kopec RE, et al. Avocado consumption enhances human postprandial provitamin A absorption and conversion from a novel high-β-carotene tomato sauce and from carrots. J Nutr. 2014 Aug;144(8):1158-66.
- Renzi LM et al. The relation between serum lipids and lutein and zeaxanthin in the serum and retina: results from cross-sectional, case-control and case study designs.Lipids Health Dis. 2012 Feb 29;11:33