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Are Avocados Good for Weight Loss?

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If you are wanting to lose weight or shred body fat then your diet plays a massively important role. Some foods will support your goals and others will make it harder.

The avocado is one of those foods that can divide weight loss planners – some feel that its high fat content can put the brakes on your body composition, whilst others feel the unique combination of fats and nutrients will accelerate a shred.

In this article we are going to take a look at the avocado and whether or not it will support your fat loss goals.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • What is an avocado? – a nutritional breakdown
  • The health benefits
  • The science – does it support weight loss?
  • Can it help to keep you feeling full?

What is the avocado?

Native to South Central Mexico, the avocado is from the Persea Americana flowering treeSometimes referred to as the butter pear or alligator pear, this pear-shaped fruit has a thick, green skin that covers a vibrant green flesh. It has a mild, creamy taste and smooth texture.

This fruit is high in fat – around 80% of the flesh is fat, with the majority of this coming from monounsaturated fats, in particular oliec acid.

There are many different varieties of the fruit, however the Hass variety accounts for over 90% of commercial crop [1].

They contain high levels of fiber which can help maintain good digestive health, and are a rich source of a variety of nutrients. You can expect generous amounts of vitamin K and B from this fruit, as well as folate, potassium and copper. It is one of the only foods that provides significant levels of vitamins C and E [2].

The Hass fruit also provides flavonoids and carotenoids that are types of phytonutrients which protect plants and are responsible for providing them with pigments and vibrant color. Alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin are all examples of the many carotenoids found in this fruit.


Types-of-Fats

Key Point: The avocado is a smooth and creamy tasting fruit that is high in monounsaturated fats, fiber and nutrients.


The Health Benefits of Avocados

This food has the highest lutein content among commonly eaten fruits as well as measurable amounts of related carotenoids [3]. This nutrient is responsible for protecting your eyes from light damage.

The monounsaturated fats (MUFA) of this fruit have been found to improve risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease. For example, a study by Yoneyama et al [4] reported that the oleic acid contained within MUFAs significantly reduced C-reactive protein – an inflammatory marker often associated with heart disease.

One large review study published in the Journal of Clinical Lipidology [5] found that Hass consumption significantly reduced all indices of cholesterol including LDLs and triglycerides – the most abundant type of body fat.

Likewise, some studies have found that eating between half and one-and-a-half avocados per day can reduce cholesterol by as much as 43% [6].

A large survey between 2001-2008 [1] reported that consumption of the Persea Americana fruit was associated with significantly higher overall fruit and vegetable intake, as well as overall diet quality. Although no differences in body weight were found between consumers and non-consumers, the inclusion of a healthy diet is likely to promote better health and weight maintenance in the long-term.


 

MUFA-fats-and-weight-loss

Key Point: Avocados can decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease by reducing cholesterol and inflammation.


So Can Avocados Boost Weight Loss?

This heart-healthy fruit could boost your ability to burn fat. Here’s what some of the studies say:

A study in Applied Nutritional Investigation [7] aimed to dispel the myth that this fruit was fattening by assessing their addition to calorie-restricted diets.

In order to do this, the researchers recruited 61 overweight men and women and placed them in one of two groups over a 6-week period:

  • Group 1: Energy restricted diet of 7000kJ/1700kcal with 200g per day of avocado – 30g of fat
  • Group 2: Energy restricted diet of 7000kJ/1700kcal with 30g of fat from a variety of other sources

At the end of the study, both groups had lost weight and reduced blood lipids. Group 1 found a significant increase in oleic acid whereas group 2 didn’t. The authors concluded that inclusion of Hass fruit in an energy-restricted diet did not compromise the weight lost. 

Similar results were seen in another study, this time on insulin-resistant volunteers [8]. In this trial, 11 diabetics with excess belly fat were split into one of three groups – all received the same amount of calories each day over a 28-day period:

  • Group 1: High saturated fat diet
  • Group 2: High MUFA fat diet
  • Group 3: High carb diet

The high carb group reported that their fat mass was redistributed toward the abdominal cavity, whereas the MUFA-rich group found that their belly fat decreased. The release of certain biomarkers also helped to protect against insulin resistance as well. 


Could an Avocado Help to Keep You Feeling Full?

If research is anything to go by then the answer is yes.

The fruit of the Persea Americana is nutrient dense with properties that may favorably impact energy balance. As such, its fat and fiber content helps to increase satiety.

One study in Nutrition Journal [9] found that when volunteers ate a lunch containing added Hass fruit, satiety increased by 23% and desire to eat within a 5-hour period after the meal decreased by 26%. 

This showed that Hass fruit at a lunch meal can influence post-ingestive satiety over a subsequent 3 and 5 hour period in overweight adults.


Alligator-Pears

Key Point: Research suggests that the avocado can increase satiety and help burn belly fat.


Summary – Is Avocado Good or Bad for Weight Loss?

The avocado comes from the flowering tree Persea Americana and is Native to South Central Mexico. It is a pear-shaped fruit that has a thick, green skin that covers a vibrant green flesh and has a mild, creamy taste.

The avocado is high in monounsaturated fat particular oliec acid. It provides a number of vitamins and minerals as well as a contribution to your daily fiber. Research suggests that the combination of healthy fats and nutrients can decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease by reducing inflammation and blood lipids.

Whether or not this fruit helps you to lose weight or not is down to overall lifestyle. When included in moderation, it can increase satiety, helping you to feel fuller for longer. It can also help to reduce belly fat by redistributing it away from the abdominal area.

As this food is high in fats – regardless of whether they are unsaturated or not – eating to much will potentially put you in a positive energy balance. It is therefore important that this food is not overeaten. More does not mean better, no matter how healthy this food is.


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References

  1. Fulgoni, VL et al. 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; 12: 1.
  2. Dreher, ML et al. Hass Avocado Composition and Potential Health Effects. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2012; 53(7): 738-750
  3. Lu, QY et al. Inhibition of prostate cancer cell growth by an avocado extract: role of lipid-soluble bioactive substances. J Nutr Biochem. 2005; 16(1): 23-30.
  4. Yoneyama, S et al. Dietary intake of fatty acids and serum C-reactive protein in Japanese. J Epidemiol. 2007; 17(3): 86-92.
  5. Peou, S et al. Impact of avocado-enriched diets on plasma lipoproteins: A meta-analysis. J Clin Lipidol. 2016; 10(1): 161-71
  6. Grant, W. C. Influence of avocados on serum cholesterol. Proc. Soc. Exp. Biol. Med. 1960; 104: 4547
  7. 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; 21: 67–75
  8. Paniaqua, JA et al. Monounsaturated fat-rich diet prevents central body fat distribution and decreases postprandial adiponectin expression induced by a carbohydrate-rich diet in insulin-resistant subjects. Diabetes Care. 2007; 30(7): 1717-23
  9. Wien, M et al. 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. Nutrition Journal. 2013; 12: 155


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