Vegetarian Weight Loss Food: Avocados
Avocados are probably not a food you associate with dieting, yet I’d like you to take a few moments to explore this vegetarian weight loss food with me. When used judiciously, this highly nutritious fruit can actually help cut caloric intake, reduce hunger, and support weight management.
Although there are dozens of different varieties of avocados, the most popular one on the market is the Hass, which is available year round. Hass avocados are oval, range in weight from about 5 to 12 ounces, have a creamy texture, and a pebbled skin that turns from green to purple-black when ripe.
It’s well known that avocados are high in fat, but about 75 percent of it is healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, which promote a healthy cardiovascular system while also enhancing your ability to use fat-soluble vitamins. Healthy fats are a necessary part of a balanced weight loss eating plan, so including avocados can help meet that need.
Here’s what else you need to know about this vegetarian weight loss food.
Avocados are nutritious
One half (about 68 grams) of a Hass avocado provides 4.6 grams fiber, 345 mg potassium, 19.5 mg magnesium, 43 micrograms vitamin A, 6 mg vitamin C, 1.3 mg vitamin E, 60 mg folate, 0.2 mg vitamin B6, 1.3 mg niacin, 185 micrograms lutein/zeaxanthin, and 57 mg phytosterols. Among fruits, avocados also are the richest known source of phytosterols, cholesterol-like substances that have been shown to reduce bad and total cholesterol.
Avocadoes can reduce hunger
One-half of an average size Hass avocado has about 115 calories, but those calories can actually help you drop pounds. In a study of overweight adults, for example, researchers found that those who ate one-half an avocado daily were significantly more satisfied (by 28%) and less hungry (by 40%) than individuals who ate a control meal.
In another study, researchers used avocado extract in rats and found that it had a “profound influence on leptin activity, which controls satiety and hunger.” Since one of the biggest challenges for dieters is feeling hungry, avocados can help curb that feeling.
Avocados can help burn calories
A double-blind, crossover study compared a diet high in palmitic acid (found in palm oil, butter, cheese, meats, and many vegetable oils) with one low in palmitic acid and high in oleic acids (avocado is a rich source). Each segment of the study lasted three weeks and involved young healthy adults.
Physical activity level was 13.5 percent higher when the participants were consuming the diet high in oleic acids than when they consumed the one high in palmitic acids. In addition, the amount of energy burned when at rest was 3 to 4.5 percent higher. Both of these findings indicate that avocados may help burn more calories.
Avocados can help with weight loss
According to Joseph Mercola, MD, one of the best ways to normalize your weight is to significantly reduce the amount of carbs from grains in your diet. When you do that, however, you should increase your intake of healthy fats, and avocados fit the bill. Since all the monounsaturated fat in avocados is easily burned for energy, these powerful fruits can support your weight loss efforts.
How to enjoy avocados
One ounce of avocado provides only 45 calories compared with 140 from the same amount of butter—and without the saturated fat and cholesterol! Consider using an ounce or less of avocado as a topping for veggies, grilled Portobello mushrooms, bread, salads, and vegetarian burgers. Small amounts of diced avocado can be added to green salads, bean and grain dishes, and whipped into a smoothie.
Thinly sliced avocado makes a great lettuce wrap sandwich—where you use lettuce leaves instead of bread--along with tomato, sprouts, cucumber slices, onion, and other fillings. If guacamole is one of your favorites, keep the calories under control by trying the following recipe, which is lighter on the avocado and heavier on the tomatoes.
1 avocado, mashed
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium ripe tomatoes, chopped fine
1 lime, juiced
Combine all ingredients in a bowl, season with salt and pepper to taste, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Stuffed Avocado (4 servings)
2 avocadoes, cut in half and seeds removed
1 small orange, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
8 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 Tbs chopped scallions
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Scoop out the avocado pulp from each half, place in a bowl, and mash. Mix in the vinegar until smooth. Add all the other ingredients and stir well. Place the mixture into the hollowed-out avocado halves.
Dreher ML, Davenport AJ. Hass avocado composition and potential health effects. Critical Review in Food Science and Nutrition 2013; 53(7): 738-50
Kien CL et al. Substituting dietary monounsaturated fat for saturated fat is associated with increased daily physical activity and resting energy expenditure and with changes in mood. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2013 Apr; 97(4): 689-97
Mercola.com. How avocado can help with weight management
Monika P, Geetha A. The modulating effect of Persea americana fruit extract on the level of expression of fatty acid synthase complex, lipoprotein lipase, fibroblast growth factor-21 and leptin--A biochemical study in rats subjected to experimental hyperlipidemia and obesity. Phytomedicine 2015 Sep 15; 22(10):939-45
Wien M et al. A randomized 3x3 crossover study to evaluate the effect of Hass avocado intake on post-ingestive satiety, glucose and insulin levels, and subsequent energy intake in overweight adults. Nutrition Journal 2013; 12:155