With more than 35% of the US population classed as obese, it seems there is a need for new weight loss strategies. Now, new research suggests that one-half of a fresh avocado with lunch may satisfy hunger in overweight individuals, reducing their need to snack after a meal. This is according to a study published in the Nutrition Journal.

The research team, led by Dr. Joan Sabaté, chair of the Department of Nutrition at Loma Linda University in California, says their study also suggests that avocados may help regulate blood sugar levels – a finding which could have important implications for diabetes sufferers.

The avocado is a fruit from a tree native to Mexico and Central America. The fruit is commonly used in salads, and is the main ingredient in guacamole – a Mexican dip.

According to the Hass Avocado Board (HAB), who funded the study, a whole fresh avocado contains around 250 calories and 23g of fat.

Although the fat content of avocados is high, they contain naturally good fats. One in particular is monounsaturated fat. Studies have shown this type of fat can reduce levels of bad cholesterol in the blood, as well as reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease.

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Eating half of a fresh avocado with lunch increased satiety in healthy, overweight individuals, and reduced their need to snack for up to 5 hours after their meal.

Medical News Today recently reported on the health benefits of avocados. Previous research has linked avocados to better weight management and lower body mass index (BMI), and has even suggested the fruit may protect against cancer.

For their study, the researchers wanted to see how avocado consumption impacted a person’s satiety, blood sugar and insulin response, and food consumption following a meal.

The investigators recruited 26 healthy, overweight adults. Over five sessions, participants were required to eat their normal breakfast followed by one of three lunch test meals.

These were:

  • A standard lunch with no avocado
  • A lunch containing avocado (the avocado replaced other foods), or
  • A standard lunch with half of a fresh avocado added.

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

Furthermore, the researchers note that although adding avocado to lunch increased participants’ calorie and carbohydrate intake, they showed no increase in blood sugar levels compared with those who ate a standard lunch with no avocado.

“This leads us to believe that avocados’ potential role in blood sugar management is worth further investigation,” say Dr. Sabaté.

Nikki Ford, director of nutrition at the HAB, says these findings provide support for emerging health benefits for avocados. She adds:

These results further complement our research efforts in weight management and diabetes, as well as our continued work to explore the many benefits that fresh avocados have to offer when consumed in everyday healthy eating plans.”

The research team notes that although their study provides positive results for avocado consumption, further research is needed to determine whether their findings are applicable to the general population.