Is avocado good for diabetes?
It seems that avocados are not only safe for people with diabetes, but they may be beneficial.
Research shows that avocados can help people manage their diabetes and improve their overall well-being in many ways.
Diet and diabetes
Avocados may help people with diabetes
A healthful diet is critical for everyone, including people with diabetes. When a person has diabetes, the foods they eat each day can impact how they feel and how well they control their condition.
This is one of the best ways to keep diabetes under control, avoid complications, and lead the healthiest life possible.
Avocados offer all these benefits, and possibly more.
Avocados and blood sugar levels
Blood sugar control is critical for people who have diabetes.
A physician or dietitian may advise patients to choose foods that are lower in carbohydrates and sugar. They may also recommend foods that help control blood sugar spikes. An avocado meets both of these requirements.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), one cup of avocado cubes weighing 150 grams (g) contains:
- 12.79 g of carbohydrates
- less than 1 g of sugar
- 10.1 g of fiber
- 22 g of fat, of which nearly 19 g is unsaturated fat
- 240 calories
- 150 g of raw apple contains 19.4 g of carbohydrate, of which 15.6 g is sugar
- 150 g of raw banana contains 34.26 g, of which 18.34 g is sugar
With so few carbohydrates, a high fiber content, and healthful fat, people with diabetes can enjoy an avocado in moderation without the stress of raising their blood sugar levels.
Pairing an avocado with other foods may help reduce blood sugar spikes too. Its fat and fiber content takes longer to digest and slows the absorption of other carbohydrates at the same time.
Daily limit of avocado
Before people make any significant changes to their diet, they should talk with their physician or dietitian. One of the things to consider is total calorie intake.
A 150-gram cup-sized serving of avocado contains 240 calories, but this is quite a large serving.
People who are watching their calories in order to maintain or lose weight can still add avocado to their diet.
They can do this by switching a serving of avocado for something else with a similar amount of calories like cheese, or mayonnaise. Avocado can also replace butter on toast.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) say it is not only the amount of fat that is important, but the type.
People should limit their intake of unhealthful fats, including saturated fats and trans fats. These are often present in fatty meats, fried foods, processed, and restaurant foods.
The ADA encourage people with diabetes to consider adding avocado into their diets, due to its healthy fats.
Avocados and heart health
Avocados contain healthful fats than may help reduce LDL cholesterol.
Avocados are rich in fat and calories, but this is not a reason for people with diabetes to avoid them.
The fats in avocados are mostly monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). Studies have shown that these can help raise "good" HDL cholesterol.
MUFAs can also lower levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol and fats called triglycerides, and they can reduce blood pressure.
Having healthy cholesterol, triglyceride, and blood pressure levels can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).
People with diabetes are twice as likely to have heart disease and stroke as someone without diabetes, according to the NIDDK. More importantly, heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death among people with diabetes.
There may be one more reason why MUFAs can help people who are living with diabetes. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition (JACN) suggests that they may help control blood sugar and insulin levels.
The researchers found this was especially true when replacing some carbohydrates in the diet with MUFAs. So, besides being naturally low in sugar and carbohydrates, an avocado's healthy fats can help lower blood sugar levels even more.
Fiber, blood sugar levels, and feeling full
One cup of avocado cubes contains just over 10 g of fiber.
The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that, between the ages of 19 and 50 years:
- Men should consume between 30.8 and 33.6 g of fiber per day.
- Women need between 25.2 and 28 g of fiber each day.
Fiber is an important part of a healthful diet, because it improves digestive health and keeps the bowels regular. It is particularly helpful for people with diabetes, because it helps improve blood sugar levels.
Fiber and blood sugar
In February 2012, a review of studies in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine (JABFM) suggested that fiber could lower fasting blood sugar levels and hemoglobin A1C levels in people with diabetes.
The A1C test is a blood test. It can give information about a person's average blood sugar levels during the previous 3 months.
Fiber and cholesterol
Back in 1999, a study in the American Journal for Clinical Nutrition concluded that soluble fiber, which is present in avocados, may also improve cholesterol levels. The American Heart Association (AHA) note that soluble fiber can "modestly" reduce levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol.
Other studies have continued to provide evidence that fiber can help reduce cardiovascular disease.
This is another way this fruit may help reduce the risk of heart disease.
Fiber and fullness
Avocados may also help people feel fuller for longer, known as satiety.
This can help people control their calorie intake without feeling hungry. A study in the Nutrition Journal found that eating half of an avocado with lunch increased levels of feeling full up to 5 hours later.
Choosing and using avocados
Avocados offer a buttery yet versatile flavor. They are a tasty addition to a variety of salads, sandwiches, and sweet and savory dishes.
Avocados do not need cooking. It is best to eat them when they are ripe. A ripe avocado will be dark in color and will feel slightly soft when squeezed gently.
If an avocado is firm and green in color, leave it to ripen for a few days. Avocados ripen off the tree, and avocados in stores often need some time to reach their ideal ripeness.
The following tip is another way of telling if an avocado is ripe or not:
- Try to remove the stem.
- If it does not come off easily, it is not yet ripe.
- If it removes easily and the skin underneath is green, the avocado is ripe.
- If it removes easily and the skin underneath is brown, the avocado may be overripe. It may have brown spots inside or a texture that is too soft.
Avocado on toast: Spread 1 to 2 teaspoons of avocado on whole grain toast instead of butter. Adding a dash of black pepper and garlic, a tomato slice, or some fresh salsa can give it extra flavor. Combine it with favorite vegetables and seasonings.
Baked avocado egg: Slice the avocado in half and remove the pit. Crack an egg, place it in the avocado half, and bake for 15-20 minutes at 425°F. Top with diced tomatoes, salsa, peppers, or other vegetables.
Avocado can replace butter on toast or wholegrain bread for a healthful breakfast or snack.
Slices of avocado make a great addition to nearly any salad.
They also work well as a topping for vegetable or chicken wraps and turkey burgers.
Avocado can also replace butter or mayonnaise in a sandwich.
Adding a mashed-up avocado to store-bought hummus gives a boost of fiber and healthy fats. Skip the chips and instead, dip fresh, crunchy vegetables like carrots and celery sticks.
Here are some ideas for including avocado in a main meal:
- Pair them with fish tacos, enchiladas, or other Mexican dishes.
- Use them as a topping on chili in place of sour cream.
- Sprinkle diced avocado on a whole-grain pizza and cut back on the cheese.
Avocados may be a healthful boost to a diabetes meal plan. People with diabetes should talk with their doctor or dietitian about their dietary needs, and consider giving avocado a try at their next meal.
You can purchase avocados online.
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