While avocados were once shunned due to their high fat content, they are now taking centre stage in many healthy diet plans, and for good reason. Avocados are not only full of healthy fats, they’re also a source of essential nutrients, and provide a wide range of health benefits.
In fact a recent US study revealed eating an avocado a day as part of a moderate-fat diet is almost twice as effective as a lower-fat diet in reducing “bad” LDL cholesterol.
I recently reviewed the past 20 years of research on avocados focusing on studies that examined their health and nutrition benefits. And based on that review, here are my top 5 reasons to enjoy a third of an avocado a day.
1. Help Manage Weight – Avocado eaters tend to weigh less, have a lower BMI and a smaller waist. Adding an avocado to a meal can also increase satiety by 25 per cent and help reduce snacking by keeping you feeling full for three to five hours. Add avocado to lunch to help control snacking in the afternoon
2. Promote Eye Health – Avocados contain colourful carotenoid pigments for eye health. These pigments help reduce the risk of macular degeneration. When eaten with other veggies, such as in a salad, avocados help increase your absorption of carotenoids from other veggies by five-fold and convert the carotenoid beta carotene into Vitamin A in the body. Another nutrient necessary for vision.2
3.Good Food For Pregnancy – Avocados are rich in folate, a B group vitamin that is important for cell division, tissue development and blood formation during pregnancy. A varied diet rich in folate may reduce the risk of foetal neutral tube defects like spina bifida. A quarter of a large avocado or a third of a smaller one (50g) contains 60 micrograms of folate, which is 10 per cent of the recommended daily intake for pregnant women.2
4.Heart Health – Avocados are packed with heart healthy monounsaturated fats, antioxidants, fibre and potassium while being low in sodium. Research also shows avocados may help lower “bad” LDL cholesterol, a key risk factor of heart disease, and boost “good” HDL cholesterol. In fact, a new study has shown an avocado as part of a moderate fat diet can be almost twice as effective as a lower fat diet in reducing bad cholesterol.2
5.Diabetes Management – Emerging research shows that avocados may help people with type 2 diabetes by improving their blood cholesterol and blood glucose.2
To get the maximum health benefits it’s recommended you eat a 50g serve of avocado a day – that’s around a quarter of a large avocado or a third of a smaller one.
A serve of avocado (50g) provides almost 20 vitamins, nutrients and phytonutrients including vitamins C, E, K and folate. For a quick and tasty nutrient boost, try swapping regular buttery spreads for some avocado.
For more avo info visit www.avocado.org.au and follow @avonutrition.
References available on request
About Lisa Yates
Lisa Yates is an Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian who consults to Australian Avocado Nutrition. She has 20 years experience as a dietitian and for the last 10 years has worked as a consultant dietitian for the Australian Tree Nut Industry and for the last four years for the Australian Avocado Industry. Lisa is also a regular contributor in Medical Observer – a GP magazine – and has a wealth of knowledge about the benefits of healthy fats in the diet.