If you needed another reason to dip your chip (or better yet, a crisp veggie) into a bowl of yummy guacamole, a new comprehensive research review has offered a good one.
The review, published in the journal Phytotherapy Research, evaluated the results of 129 studies to determine the effects of the avocados on various aspects of Metabolic syndrome, which is a group of risk factors that raises your risk for heart disease, diabetes and stroke.
The review concluded that the vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and certain phytochemicals (natural plant chemicals that help fight and prevent disease) in avocado may help combat blood pressure, diabetes and other components of Metabolic syndrome and provide a natural alternative to other forms of treatment.
“The pharmacologically active constituents” of avocado are not only “nutritionally valuable,” the authors write, but also “possess antifungal, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity in some studies.” They also help lower cholesterol and help prevent cardiovascular disease, and potentially even cancer. Everyday consumption is recommended.
“Avocados start with great taste, but they also serve up a bunch of vitamins, minerals, fiber and heart-healthy fats,” says Virginia-based registered dietitian nutritionist, certified diabetes educator, and certified health and wellness coach Jill Weisenberger (who was not involved with the study review). “For example, they contain the blood pressure friendly mineral potassium and the B vitamin folate, which is important for DNA repair. Avocados are terrific for my patients with diabetes because they add so much flavor with just a little carbohydrate.”
Weisenberger, author of The Overworked Person’s Guide to Better Nutrition, recommends replacing some of the saturated fats in your diet with heart-healthy unsaturated fats in order to improve cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of heart disease and potentially make the body more sensitive to insulin.
“Avocados can help with this,” she says, advising that people dice it onto salads for additional creaminess instead of sprinkling on cheese or mix it into mashed potatoes instead of butter. (Smashed avocado can be used to replace butter in a 1-to-1 ratio.)
“For most people, it’s a good idea to add a little bit to other foods or to swap a less nutrient-dense food out for the delicious, nutrient-dense avocado,” Weisenberger says.
So how much avocado should you eat? Because avocados, like nuts, are flavorful and satisfying, but rich in fat and calorie dense, moderation and mindful eating are key.
“A little bit can go a long way,” Weisenberger says. “A few slices to a third of an avocado is a reasonable amount for most people.”
Sound good. Now, who’s up for avocado toast?
Amy Reiter is a writer and editor based in New York. Her work has appeared in publications including The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, Glamour and Marie Claire, as well as Salon, where she was a longtime editor and senior writer. In addition to contributing to Healthy Eats, she blogs for Food Network’s FN Dish.
*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.