Avocado Health Benefits Include Appetite Control

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH; Dorine Lam, RDN, MS, MPH


A hand holding a sliced avocado with Avocado health benefitsAvocados have been known for a long time to be a good source of healthy fat and are a good source of nutrients and minerals for your whole body. This produce aisle fruit contains roughly 20 minerals and vitamins per each serving! It’s a no wonder why people want to incorporate avocados into their daily diet! Avocados are low in sugar and contain fiber, folate, B vitamins, potassium, as well as, so many other great nutrients. New studies into avocado health benefits are showing that this fruit may help solve problems with hunger and obesity.

Avocado Health Benefits: Appetite Control

New research findings from Loma Linda University on avocado health benefits and consumption were presented at the International Union of Nutritional Sciences (IUNS) 20th International Congress of Nutrition, in Granada, Spain on September 18, 2013. The new US study found that incorporating half of a fresh Hass Avocado into a lunch meal could help to reduce hunger and the desire to eat in overweight adults.

The new Loma Linda University study was a randomized single-blind study supported by the Hass Avocado Board and it involved 26 healthy overweight adults (average age of 40 years and BMI around 28). The study participants consumed a standardized breakfast followed by 1 of 3 lunch test meals and they rated five appetite sensations before lunch and at specific intervals over 5 hours following the start of the test meal. Blood glucose and insulin were measured before lunch and at specific intervals over 3 hours following the start of the test meal.

The study researchers found that those study participants who ate half of a fresh avocado with their lunch reported a 40% decreased desire to eat during the 3 hours after their lunch, and a 28% decreased desire to eat 5 hours after, compared with individuals who ate a standard lunch with no avocado.

The new study also found that the group who ate half of a fresh avocado also reported feeling 26% more satisfied after their lunch, compared with those who ate no avocado.

Blood Sugar Effects of Avocado

The study researchers found that including or adding avocado to a meal resulted in no increase in blood sugar levels but there was a smaller post-meal rises in insulin compared to eating a standard lunch meal without avocado. The study’s conclusion was that “the addition of approximately half of a fresh Hass avocado to a lunch meal favorably increased satisfaction and reduced the desire to eat over a subsequent 3 hour and 5 hour period in an overweight and moderately obese adult population.”

Incorporating Avocado Into Your Diet And AFS

One of the biggest signs of Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome is hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia is low blood sugar. Our bodies need a good source of energy from proteins and healthy fats to maintain proper homeostasis. When you suffer from AFS your blood sugar levels are often times way more lower than normal and it causes a whole range of symptoms.Low blood sugar can cause dizziness, shakiness, headaches, behavior changes, sweating, hunger and many other problems. If not taken care of it can lead to unconsciousness or even worse. Avocados contain good healthy fat that help maintain proper blood sugar levels. Also, hypoglycemia can cause hunger, with this new study on how avocados could help hunger, it seems the two go hand in hand. So go ahead reach for that avocado the next time you get hungry!

The NeuroEndMetabolic Stress Response And Avocados

Young healthy girl holding an Avocado health benefits in her handThe NeuroEndoMetabolic stress response (NEM) model is all about how your bodies systems and organs handle stress. The key to healthy body relates greatly to a healthy metabolism. A healthy metabolism will defend our body from the oxidative damage caused by stress and will prevent it from further harming our cells. The wonderful thing about avocados is that they can actually boost your metabolism. So by eating the right foods it actually helps the NEM stress response and keeps our bodies healthier.

Avocados have a great natural way to heal our bodies, give us nutrients and aid in helping systems in our bodies to stay in check. Overall, this study has shown that there is a possible link with healing hunger and helping with obesity by eating avocados. What is even more astonishing is how avocado health benefits can extend to helping those with Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome. If you add up all of the health benefits of avocados you can’t very well disregard them from your diet.

Avocado Health Benefits for Inflammation

To be more specific, the NEM is composed of six circuits of organs and systems that all work together: the hormonal, the bioenergetics, the cardionomic, the neuroaffect, the inflammation, and the detoxification circuits. And, when one is engaged, the rest follow suit, since the NEM responds to stress as a whole.

One way of getting a comprehensive look at how avocado health benefits affect overall health is to consider how they affect specific circuits of the NEM, particularly the inflammation and bioenergetics circuits, which are intimately linked, as well as the effect on hormones.

Though inflammation is an integral part of the body’s immunity, helping to fight off pathogens and getting rid of toxins and dead or damaged cells, it can also become one of the biggest health problems we face when it gets out of control. Inflammation involves the immune system, the gut, and the gut’s microbiome. And actually, two-thirds of the immune system’s cells are found in the gut. That’s why we say that inflammation almost always begins in the gut.

When the inflammation circuit is running smoothly, it helps eliminate whatever causal harm or insult, such as an infectious agent, pathogen, toxin, allergen or inflammatory substance, has entered the body. It also helps clear out the cells and tissues that were damaged in the process, and then initiate the repair process.

But what often happens with our modern diets, such as the Standard American Diet (SAD), is that we eat foods that constantly compromise the microbiome, and in turn, the integrity of the gut’s lining. This can create a state of dysbiosis, where the gut flora is no longer in balance, and also create leaks in the junctions between the gut’s epithelial cells. When these leaks occur, substances that should not enter the body get into the bloodstream, prompting an immune system attack.

Though the immune response is correct, the problem is that we tend to eat the same inflammatory foods over and over again, triggering a constant immune response, which brings with it a state of chronic inflammation.

Chronic inflammation has been linked to pretty much most chronic diseases, such as atherosclerosis, autoimmune disorders, neurodegenerative disorders, mental health issues, and problems in the GI tract itself, such as IBS.

Although the SAD is problematic because it is low in fiber and high in fat, that doesn’t mean that all fat is bad for you. The high fat content of this diet is mostly made up of saturated fat found in cheese, meats, and high-fat dairy products, while very little of it comes from the unsaturated fat found in nuts, seeds, avocados, and oils. This proportional imbalance is one problem with the diet.

The calories in avocados come mostly from fat – it’s actually one of the fattiest foods you can eat. But it is a type of monounsaturated fatty acid called oleic acid. And one of the primary avocado health benefits is its content of oleic acid.

Oleic acid has anti-inflammatory properties, so adding it to your anti-inflammatory diet, such as the Adrenal Fatigue Diet, that can help bring down inflammation, regulate the inflammation circuit, and give your gut a chance to seal the leaks and rebalance its microbiome.

And although we don’t recommend the use of a lot of oil in cooking, avocado oil is resistant to the oxidation that comes from heating, so if you want to use a little of it in your cooking, it can be a healthier choice.

Avocado Health Benefits for the Bioenergetics Circuit

Delicious looking toast with Avocado health benefitsYour body is an energy conductor, it needs to take in and use energy to work, and it releases energy in the process. Energy needs to flow freely through the body for you to have optimal health, and in fact, many traditional medical systems claim that releasing energetic blocks in the body is the most important part of healing disease and imbalance.

Your bioenergetics circuit is involved in your body’s energetic and metabolic response to stress, and different factors can contribute to it working well or not working so well. Things like your emotional state, the food you eat, the belief system you have, the environmental toxins you are exposed to, and the level of physical activity you engage in can all be considered levers in your body’s energetic flow.

Calories are units of heat energy. They’re what we use when measuring the energetic value of foods. Proteins and carbohydrates both contain 4 calories per gram, while fat contains 9 calories per gram – more than double that of the other two macronutrients. So, if you’re going to get a lot of calories from fat, you will want to fuel your bioenergetics circuit with calories that come from a healthy source.

On average, half an avocado contains 160 calories, coming from 15 grams of fat, 9 grams of carbohydrates, and 2 grams of protein. But one of the great avocado health benefits is that with those 160 calories, you are also getting a lot of fiber, which is incredibly important for the health of your GI tract and for the reduction of inflammation. Plus, you also get a host of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, folate, vitamin K, vitamins B5 and B6, potassium, and vitamin E.

The bioenergetics circuit relies a lot on good nutrition to function properly in order to give your body the energy it needs. It is especially important to eat a diet that balances and activates your hormones because hormones affect the way your body’s metabolism works, and in turn, your energy levels. A diet that is high in raw, organic, and whole foods, with lots of superfoods and antioxidant-rich foods, is a cornerstone of a healthy bioenergetics circuit.

Another one of the great avocado health benefits is that it is rich in antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin, and its high fat content helps your body absorb antioxidants from other foods. Many of the nutrients your body needs to run smoothly and keep your hormones and bioenergetics in top shape are fat-soluble. These include vitamins A, D, E, and K.

Hormones, Weight Loss, and Avocados

Waist measuring tape with Avocado health benefits, salmon, and dumbbells. Many health practitioners believe that obesity is actually a disease of inflammation and that certain hormonal imbalances can cause or worsen obesity and vise versa. This is especially true for women and for those with AFS.

Some of the most telling symptoms of AFS are how easily you begin to gain weight while at the same time have a more difficult time losing it. And, you will also notice that the weight tends to concentrate around your waist.

Abdominal weight is a sign of increased visceral fat (fat between the organs), which is a more dangerous type of fat than subcutaneous fat (fat below the skin). Visceral fat secretes inflammatory adipokines, specifically leptin and adiponectin, which can create issues with appetite and insulin resistance. Abdominal fat also releases certain fatty acids that can reach the heart and pancreas, causing problems with blood pressure, blood sugar, and insulin.

One of the reasons why AFS leads to more fat accumulation around the waist is because of cortisol production. When you have chronic stress, your adrenal glands need to make more and more anti-stress hormones to deal with it, especially cortisol. But, actually, cortisol is the final outcome of a series of hormone conversions, beginning with the conversion of cholesterol to pregnenolone, then the conversion of pregnenolone into DHEA or progesterone, and then cortisol.

Central obesity is a huge risk factor in many diseases and contributes to estrogen dominance in women, cardiovascular disease risk, osteoarthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. So it is important to do what you can to reduce the fat around your waist and balance the hormones affected by it.

Fortunately, one of the avocado health benefits is that it is a weight loss promoting food. Because it’s high in fiber and healthy fat, yet low in carbohydrates, it can give you the feeling of fullness and keep you satisfied longer, while still helping your body’s digestion and weight control.

As the above study noted, participants that ate avocados with their meals reported feeling 23% more satisfied than those that did not eat avocados with their meals. They also had a 28% less desire to eat during the five hours that followed their meals than their counterparts. This could definitely help with weight loss.

Conclusion

Avocado health benefits are many including appetite controlAs you can see, avocado health benefits cover many areas. And because your body is composed of so many different systems that work together for your health and well-being, you can support these systems by making sure that what you put in your body is anti-inflammatory, good for hormone balance, good for weight control, gives your body clean fuel, and helps support your adrenal glands and NEM.

So before reaching for a sugary or highly processed snack next time you’re hungry, try slicing up an avocado, drizzling a little balsamic vinegar or a squeeze of lemon, add a dash of salt, and see for yourself how much more satisfying that is.

 
© Copyright 2014 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.


Avocado health benefits