A new review of scientific studies by researchers at Mashhad University of Medical Sciences in Iran indicates that avocados may help prevent metabolic syndrome, a cluster of three or more risk factors that significantly increases the risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Approximately 34% of adults in the United States are estimated to have metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome typically is characterized by conditions including insulin resistance (in which the body’s cells do not use insulin efficiently), high blood pressure, obesity, and abnormal levels of blood fats such as cholesterol and triglycerides. Avocados are known to contain important nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, fiber, fatty acids, and antioxidants, and previous research has demonstrated their beneficial effects on a number of health issues.
To evaluate the impact of avocados on various components of the metabolic syndrome, researchers reviewed 129 studies looking at the effects of different parts of the avocado plant, including the flesh, peel, seeds, and leaves, on conditions including Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, abnormal blood fat levels, and obesity. They found that avocados have the greatest impact on cholesterol, with the fruit favorably affecting levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, HDL (“good”) cholesterol, triglycerides, total cholesterol, and phospholipids, which can influence heart health, blood pressure, and obesity. They also noted that various studies have found beneficial effects of avocado against diabetes, obesity, blood clots, and more.
Most of the studies included in the review suggest eating avocado on a daily basis, according to the researchers.
“This is just yet another study to show that avocados truly deserve superfood status,” says Cynthia Sass, RD, MPH, of Time Health. Sass, who was not involved in the study, notes that “avocado blends well with both sweet and savory ingredients, and provides the satisfaction factor that makes dishes decadent.”
She adds that, although several parts of the avocado plant were investigated in the review, it’s best to stick with the flesh of the fruit, as there is not currently enough known about whether it is safe to eat the peels and pits.
For more information, see the Time Health article “Why You Should Eat More Avocado” or the study in the journal Phytotherapy Research. And to learn more about the health benefits of avocados, read “An A+ for Avocados,” by certified diabetes educator and registered dietitian Amy Campbell.
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