Suffering from obesity or trying to lose weight? It might be time to add avocados to your daily diet. A recent study suggests that meals which include fresh avocado can significantly suppress hunger.
Researchers at the Centre for Nutrition Research at Illinois Institute of Technology (USA) have found that substituting fresh avocado for refined carbohydrates can suppress hunger and increase meal satisfaction in overweight and obese adults. The findings of this study have been published in the scientific journal Nutrients.
Avocados are green, pear-shaped fruits of the avocado tree and are often categorised as a super-food. There have been numerous studies have shown that eating an avocado can improve heart disease risk factors like total ‘bad’ low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and ‘good’ high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, as well as blood triglycerides.
The study had a total of 39 participants (21 men and 18 women) between the ages of 20 years and 65 years and a body mass index (BMI) between 25 and 35 with elevated fasting glucose and insulin concentrations. Participants were also non-smokers and in relatively good health with no previous history or current clinical evidence of cardiovascular, metabolic, respiratory, renal, gastrointestinal or hepatic diseases. The goal was to assess the underlying physiological effects of including whole and half fresh Hass avocados on hunger, fullness and how satisfied subjects felt over a six-hour period. Researchers evaluated these effects in the participating overweight and obese adults with a randomised three-arm crossover clinical trial.
The participants had three breakfast test meals—one was a low fat, high carbohydrate meal (the control meal) and two meals were similar in energy and energy density to the control but contained either half or whole of a fresh medium-sized Hass avocado. Meals consisted of a bagel sandwich (with or without avocado), fresh honeydew melon, oatmeal and a lemonade flavoured drink.
Avocado derived fat and fibre increased with increasing avocado content in the meal, with whole avocados containing more than two thirds of avocado derived fat and fibre. A meal containing half an avocado was supplemented with butter fat to adjust total fat content between the two experimental avocado meals. Bagel sandwiches were used for manipulating components by adding avocado into hollowed bagels and using cream cheese and butter to manage desired fat levels and textural quality. Green leafy lettuce was also used in all bagel sandwiches to help mask substitutions and control for colour, visual appeal and texture.
Participants came to the laboratory on three separate occasions and consumed each meal once, based on a randomly assigned sequence that was generated by a computer. Researchers found that 31 people, with a BMI over 30, found that the buttery fruit worked well as a replacement for processed carbs like bread and pasta, suppressing hunger and fuelling weight loss for hours. These dietary changes were also shown to limit insulin and blood glucose excursions, further reducing the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease by adding healthy fats and fibres into a regular daily diet.
As rates of obesity continue to rise around the world, the findings from this research suggest that simple dietary changes can have an important impact on managing hunger and aiding metabolic control. “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 Dr Britt Burton-Freeman, director of the center for nutrition research at Illinois Tech. “There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution when it comes to optimal meal composition for managing appetite. However, understanding 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 personalised dietary recommendations.”