Avocados are by far the fattiest fruit you’ll find in your grocery’s produce section – each contains about 29 grams – 10 to 20 times more fat than any other fruit.
But researchers say it’s the avocado’s high mono-unsaturated fat content that actually makes it a weight loss superstar.
Avocados can help lower cholesterol, reduce hunger pangs and even reduce belly fat – making avocados a must-have fruit on your plate if you’re trying to eat healthy and lose weight.
Here are 8 tasty reasons why you should add avocados to your diet…
1. Avocados fight “bad” cholesterol
In a study found in the Journal of the American Heart Association, 45 overweight people were put on one of three different diets to lower cholesterol over a 5 week period. One diet was low in fat, the second diet included moderate fat, and the third diet also provided moderate fat, but included one Hass avocado per day. The winner? The group lowest in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels was the one that enjoyed an avocado each day.
2. Avocados shrink belly fat
Researchers say it’s a good idea to swap out your traditional cooking and finishing oils for those that are richer in monounsaturated and oleic fatty acids like avocado oil. In a Penn State study, participants who consumed 40 grams (about 3 tablespoons) of high-oleic oils on a daily basis for 4 weeks reduced their belly fat by 1.6 percent compared to those who consumed a flax/safflower oil blend. A second study in the Diabetes Care journal produced similar results: A diet rich in monounsaturated fat may prevent body fat from settling around the belly by changing the expression of specific fat genes. Avocado oil is very close nutritionally to olive oil, but with a higher smoke point making it idea for higher-temperature cooking.
3. Avocados give you a nutrition boost
As you probably know, healthy salads are a dieter’s friend — but researchers say the leafy greens and veggies won’t help you much without adding the kind of fat found in avocados.
In a study found in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, participants fed salads topped with saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat-based dressings. Then the researchers tested the participants’ blood for absorption of fat-soluble carotenoids — compounds linked to improved weight and fat loss.
They found that salads topped with monounsaturated fat (the kind in avocados) required the least amount of fat. It only took 3 grams to get the most carotenoid absorption, while much higher amounts of saturated fat and polyunsaturated fat dressings were needed to get the same benefit.
The bottom line: give your greens a healthy dollop of guacamole, slices of fresh avocado, or a tablespoon of avocado oil-based vinaigrette for a healthy and flavorful boost
4. Avocados are free radical fighters
There’s always a war inside your body between free radicals and your mitochondria – and as a result your metabolism is the biggest loser! Free radicals are oxygen molecules gone wild — a natural byproduct of metabolism — that can destroy cells and DNA, causing all kinds of health problems.
The antioxidants in fruits and veggies can help neutralize some rogue free radicals, but they can’t reach the mitochondria where the majority of free radicals live. When your mitochondria is under attack, your metabolism can’t function efficiently.
In a research project conducted in Mexico, it was found that monounsaturated-rich oil pressed from ripe avocados can help mitochondria survive free radical attacks. Researchers say similar results have been proven with olive oil. Since avocados are nutritionally very similar to olives, there’s yet another reason to include more avocados in your diet.
5. Avocados keep the munchies away
A scoop of guacamole may be one of the most effective hunger-pang eliminators around. In a study published in Nutrition Journal, participants who ate just half of a fresh avocado with lunch reported a 40% decreased desire to eat for hours afterward. A two-tablespoon serving of guacamole on healthy foods such as eggs, salads, or grilled meats can keep you satisfied longer, and as a bonus, adds a little extra fatty flavor to your meal.
6. Avocados are a good start to a healthier diet
According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) published in Nutrition Journal, eating just half a medium-sized avocado every day can greatly improve your overall diet quality and reduce your risk of metabolic syndrome by up to 50%.
In fact, avocado eaters reported a lower body mass index and smaller waist when they also included significantly more fruits and vegetables in their diets which added up to increased fiber consumption and more vitamin K — a powerful combo of nutrients beneficial for weight loss.
7. Avocados help stabilize blood sugar
In addition to healthy fats, avocados provide nearly 20 vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that are essential for healthy weight management. These include 14 grams of satiating fiber and 66% of the daily requirement for Vitamin K – a nutrient that also helps with metabolizing sugar and managing insulin sensitivity.
A study published in the journal Diabetes Care found both men and women with a high vitamin K intake had a 19% less risk of developing diabetes over the course of a decade. Leafy greens are even richer in Vitamin K, so a combination of creamy avocado with your side salad will give you a good dose of Vitamin K for healthier blood sugar levels.
8. Avocados are great for workouts and higher metabolism
Research suggests eating avocados can provide the same energy boost as pre-workout supplements.
A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published the results of a 3-week study that compared a high palmitic acid (saturated fat) to a high oleic acid (monounsaturated fats such as avocados). Each diet had the same amount of calories – the two types of fats were the only difference. Researchers then looked at the subjects’ performance in physical activity and metabolic rate after eating to determine what kind of fats were the most beneficial for energy and metabolism.
The study found both physical activity and metabolic rates were significantly better in the group that consumed the high oleic-acid (as in avocados) diet. The bottom line here is to swap fried foods, baked goods, and butter for healthier snacks and oils that are higher in monounsaturated fat (as in fresh avocados or avocado oil) if you want a greater energy boost and increased metabolism – that continues to work even after you’ve left the gym.