Fat has long suffered a bad rap and a long-time association with poor health and disease. One study, however, highlights what happens to your body -- specifically the cardio-metabolic factors in overweight or obese individuals -- when you replace breakfast carbohydrates with fat-rich avocados
In the reputation-challenged world of dietary fat, avocado stands out as the good guy: it's chock-full of beneficial fats that keep you feeling full and satiated longer. The USDA National Nutrient Database notes that a single serving of an avocado -- approximately 40 grams (g) or one-fifth of a piece -- contains nearly 6 g of fat, less than 1 g of sugar, almost 3 g of fiber and 3.4 g of carbohydrates.[i]
This distinctive fruit has an impressive nutrient profile that includes monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), dietary fiber, folate and potassium as well as essential micronutrients and phytochemicals.[ii] In the context of the standard Western diet, it has been shown that eating avocados can favorably affect the glucose and insulin responses of your body.[iii]
A team of researchers set out to determine what happens when you replace energy from carbs with energy from avocados in your breakfast, as indicated by cardio-metabolic effects.
Incorporating Avocado in Breakfast Meals
With its high-carb and unhealthy fat content, the typical Western meal has been consistently shown to affect cardio-metabolic markers, including changing the body's insulin sensitivity.[iv]
The randomized trial recruited overweight or obese adults ages 25 to 60 who had elevated glucose and insulin levels.[v] The subjects had no history of cardiovascular, respiratory, kidney, gastrointestinal or blood disease.
The participants were split into three groups, namely those who ate breakfast meals containing either a half or whole fresh Hass avocado on three occasions, or consumed energy-matched meals without an avocado.
According to the researchers, the results demonstrated reduced peak glucose and insulin concentrations, as well as increased vasorelaxation or reduced vascular tension, when either a half or whole avocado was included in meals.
Oxidative stress and inflammation are also known to respond quickly to eating, especially a high-carb or high-fat diet. The study didn't find a difference in biomarkers of these two areas, and that might be because longer-term food intake studies may be necessary.
The researchers concluded, "Incorporating fresh Hass avocados in meals can help people achieve dietary recommendations to eat more fruits and vegetables … and potentially have important cardio-metabolic benefits worthy of investigating further."
A previous study found that post-meal triglycerides did not increase in subjects consuming avocado despite the added fat, whereas they became elevated in a separate group that ate hamburgers.[vi] According to the researchers, ingesting avocado with a hamburger patty may therefore hold anti-inflammatory and vascular health benefits.
The Little-Known Truth About Fat
Fats have been widely and wrongly demonized for decades. One reason may be the unhealthy ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats in many processed foods, as going outside of the ideal 1:1 to 4:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 can promote inflammation. Peanut oil, for example, contains several thousand times more omega-6s than omega-3s![vii]
Yet even when the types and ratios of fats are generally acceptable, they can still go through the process of lipid peroxidation, where they go rancid during cooking, such as grilling or frying, or even within the stomach during digestion.[viii]
In truth, however, healthy fat is essential for every single cell in your body. Consuming healthy fats supports various bodily processes, from skin health to nutrient absorption. It even assists in boosting your immune system.[ix] For its exceptionally dense source of good fats, avocado definitely stands out and proves to be a wise addition to your everyday meals.
Yet discussing its fat content is only scratching the surface of its wondrous benefits, because it can offer protection from some of the worst degenerative diseases known to modern humans, including heart disease, arthritis, diabetes and cancer.[x]