Avocados - © agric.wa.gov.au

Can Avocados Really Help Fight Obesity?

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love avocados. And my friend, George, from San Diego has his own Avocado tree in his backyard. That, to me, is the height of luxury! But now, researchers have discovered that the Avocado may also be able to help suppress your appetite and, thus, fight obesity…

Guacamole Autentico © californiaavocado.com.jpgBeautiful, chunky, Buttery Guacamole: I’d eat Fresh Avocado every
– if I could afford it, and if I could get it year round…

I’ve always thought of Avocado as a special occasion treat. It’s not grown natively up here in Canada, where we have an actual ‘4-season’ calendar, and the Avocado trees I’ve tried to grow in a pot indoors have failed miserably before they could reach fruit bearing age. But I’m still impressed by the work of scientists at the Illinois Institute of Technology who’ve come up with a new serving suggestion for the sumptuous, Buttery fruit.

What they did

Researchers assessed the underlying physiological effects of including in meals whole and half fresh Hass Avocados on hunger, fullness, and how satisfied subjects felt over a six-hour period. They evaluated the effects in 31 overweight and obese adults in a randomized three-arm crossover clinical trial. A key feature of the experiment was that Avocado was substituted for traditional refined carbohydrates in their menus.

What they found

The admittedly limited trial revealed that serving Avocado in place of traditional carbohydrates resulted in a significant reduction in hunger and an increase in how satisfied participants felt, even 6 hours later. Avocado-consuming subjects ate less, too, suggesting that the fruit could be a natural aid in fighting obesity. As a side benefit of the study, it was observed that subbing Avocado in place of refined carbs also limited Insulin level ups and downs, further reducing the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, which are commonly complicated by obesity.

The takeaway

“For years, fats have been targeted as the main cause of obesity, and now carbohydrates have come under scrutiny for their role in appetite regulation and weight control,” said study spokesperson Dr. Britt Burton-Freeman. “There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution when it comes to optimal meal composition for managing appetite. However, understanding the relationship between food chemistry and its physiological effects in different populations can reveal opportunities for addressing appetite control and reducing rates of obesity, putting us a step closer to personalized dietary recommendations.”

It’s interesting to note that Avocados contain a substantial amount of Fat – albeit unsaturated Fat – and still produced such a profound positive effect in the study.

My take

It just makes sense. And I think one reason that Avocado increased satisfaction and staved off hunger in study participants may have been that the natural satisfaction produced by consuming its ‘healthy’ Fats more than made up for the natural predilection of humans to hog out on refined carbs. It almost seems too good to be true that Avocado also helps control Insulin levels. But there is a catch…

Most of us live outside the ‘Avocado Belt’ – the climate region where the things can thrive. That means we have to import Avocados in all seasons and the price is often prohibitive, especially if you’re talking substituting them into your diet on a daily basis. Here in the World’s Coldest Capital, Hass Avocados usually cost from (C)$6 – (C)$8 for a bag of 4 or 5, placing them solidly in the luxury category, and they are not available reliably year round. We can go weeks without seeing any at all in our local supermarkets.

So…. How about a new supplement (or natural preparation) that mimics the wondrous effects of fresh Avocados on the human body? Some kind of concentrate or preserved form of the fruit that can be made during its high season (and why not from ‘ugly’ and off-sized fruit that would otherwise get trashed?), then shipped anywhere, year round? George shouldn’t be hogging all the goodies!

~ Maggie J.