Avocado Consumption Shown To Reduce Risk Of Metabolic Syndrome

There was a time in the history of food when ‘fat’ was the dietary equivalent of a swear word. As monounsaturated fats make up 77% of the calories in the humble avocado, its popularity waned [1]. However, the role of good fats in the healthy human diet are making a welcome comeback and with it comes a surge of research as to the health benefits of foods like the avocado.

Among them is the news that avocado consumption may reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is the name for a group of risk factors that raises a person’s risk of heart disease and other health problems, such as diabetes and stroke [2]. Among the risk factors are abdominal obesity, high triglyceride levels, low HDL cholesterol levels, hypertension, and high fasting blood sugar. 

In Australia, diagnosis of metabolic syndrome involves having three of those risk factors. Alarmingly, 35% of Australian adults have metabolic syndrome [3]. 

That’s where the avocado research gets interesting. The study looked at more than 17,000 adults, of whom nearly 350 were avocado consumers. They found that [4]: 

  • The odds ratio for metabolic syndrome in avocado consumers was 50% lower as opposed to non-consumers of avocado. 
  • Avocado consumers had significantly higher intakes of vegetables, fruit, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, dietary fiber, vitamins E and K, magnesium and potassium.
  • They had higher diet quality and lower intakes of added sugar 
  • They also had lower body weight, BMI and waist circumference. 

Looking at the list of findings, it certainly seems that the avocado consumers were more health and diet conscious, which in itself could impact metabolic syndrome. However, the researchers were confident enough to advise that dieticians should “be aware of the beneficial associations between avocado intake, diet and health when making dietary recommendations.”

The lower risk of metabolic syndrome is just one proven benefit of the fatty fruit. Other benefits include the following [1]: 

  • It is highly nutritious, containing Vitamins B5, B6, C, E and K along with potassium and folate.
  • The majority of the fat contained in avocado is oleic acid which is linked to reduced inflammation.
  • They’re high in fibre.
  • They can lower your triglyceride levels.
  • They can help you absorb nutrients from other foods, especially if those nutrients are fat soluble vitamins or antioxidants like carotenoids. 
  • Avocado extract has been shown to reduce the symptoms of arthritis
  • It’s a weight-loss friendly food. 

So while the study may be shouting, in equal parts, the benefit of a high quality diet and avocado consumption, there are certainly many reasons to grab another avocado next time you’re shopping. Avocado is no longer a fatty food to be avoided. It’s a fabulous addition to a healthy diet, and it’s loaded with health benefits. 

Bon-Appétit.

 

References 

[1] Gunnars, K (2016), “12 Proven Benefits of Avocado” Authority Nutrition,  retrieved 17 May 2016

[2] Staff Writer (2015), “What is metabolic syndrome?” National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, retrieved 17 May 2016

[3] Staff Writer (2015), “Metabolic Syndrome” Better Health Channel,   retrieved 17 May 2016

[4] Fulgoni, V, Dreher, M and Davenport, A (2013), “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. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-12-1