By: Katie Wolf
When you are at Chipotle Mexican Grill and the lady behind the counter says to you, “Would you like guacamole with that?” do you say yes or no? Eating avocados has been shown to provide nutrients to your diet such as carotenoids, fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. Incorporating avocado flesh, seed, peel, and leaves plays an important role in the diet for people who are at a high risk for metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. The avocado fruit originated in Mexico, and Central/South America. Avocado grows on an evergreen tree and is also known as the “alligator pear” or “ butter pear”. 1 Studies were conducted including clinical studies, in vivo, and in vitro to test the effects of avocado on high glucose levels, lipid profile, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, and antioxidant activity.
The effect of avocado on high glucose levels was found to have significantly maintained glycemic control when 12 women consumed a diet high in monounsaturated fatty acids (oleic acid from avocados and olive oil). Another randomized clinical trial studied over weight adults and showed that eating half of Hass avocado significantly reduced the blood insulin and glucagon-like peptide-1 levels.1 Likewise, a study showed that eating an avocado at lunch stopped the rise of blood insulin and assisted the state of satiety and craving to eat leading to an anti-obesity effect. The in vitro and in vivo studies were consistent with the clinical trial and showed that avocado had an antidiabetic effect via regulating the glucose uptake in the liver and reduced insulin resitance.1
Not only can avocados lead to anti-obesity, the avocado fruit had the most significant impact on lipid levels. 15 women included avocado in their diet for 3 weeks. A decrease in total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and apolipoprotein B was observed. Another study was conducted where patients consumed a diet rich in monounsaturated fatty acids using avocado as the major source for four weeks in which 30% of the total calories were consumed as fat and 75% of total fat from avadcao.1 The results lead to a significant decrease in total cholesterol and low density lipoprotein cholesterol.1 Furthermore, a clinical trial in healthy participants, adding avocado to a vegetable based diet helped increase the absorption of many carotenoids and supports lipid lowering actions. The fruit, seed, and leaf extract were shown to also have a lipid lowering affect in rats the in vivo and in vitro studies.
Including avocado in a diet can result in anti-obesity effects. In fact, according to McKinsey Global Institute report, by the year 2030 it is estimated that 41% of the world population will be overweight or obese.1 Overweight and obese participants with a body mass index of 27-44 kg/m2 were studied and evaluated. These participants ate one avocado for six weeks. Decreases in body mass index, body weight, and body fat were observed.
With many people around the world experiencing hypertension, many studies have been done to evaluate the effect of avocado as a remedy for hypertension. One study used 60mL/day of liquid leaf avocado extract on patients who had hypertension. Reduction in plasma cholesterol and blood pressure were seen. In one in vitro study, it was found that the seed of the avocado had more antihypertensive role compared to the leaf extract, which had more antioxidant role, which can scavenge oxidative stress radicals.
Overall, the research that was complied concluded that avocados might be beneficial for the treatment of risk factors that are associated with metabolic syndrome. Not only does it provide essential vitamins and minerals, it may provide a reduction in lipids, aide in weigh loss, lower blood pressure, depress your appetite and give your body a boost of antioxidants. So the next time you are at Chipotle Mexican Grill and the lady behind the counter asks “Would you like guacamole with that?” do you say yes or no?
- Tabeshpour J, Razavi B, Hosseinzadeh H. Effects of Avocado (Persea americana) on Metabolic Syndrome: A Comprehensive Systematic Review. Phytotherapy Research. 2017; 31(6): 819-837