In this article I will show why having avocado as part of your diet is good for type 2 diabetics
The Benefits and Risks of Avocados for People with Diabetes
Avocados are growing in popularity. It is a high-fat food, but it appears as a healthful addition in various diet plans. Is it safe for people with diabetes to eat avocado? It seems that avocados are not only safe for people with diabetes, but they may be beneficial. The creamy green fruit is packed with vitamins, nutrients, and heart-healthy fats. While they are high in fat, it’s the good kind of fat that benefits people with type 2 diabetes.
In general, people with diabetes should eat foods that help control blood sugar levels and that offer health benefits such as lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. Research shows that avocados can help people manage their diabetes and improve their overall well-being in many ways.
If you have type 2 diabetes, adding avocado to your diet may help you lose weight, lower cholesterol, and increase insulin sensitivity.
Avocado 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 for comparison:
- 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.
Benefits of avocado for people with type 2 diabetes
1. It won’t cause spikes in blood sugar
A healthful diet is critical for everyone, including people with diabetes. When a person has diabetes 2, the foods they eat each day can impact how they feel and how well they control their condition.
Avocados are low in carbohydrates, which means they have little effect on blood sugar levels. A recent study published in Nutrition Journal evaluated the effects of adding half an avocado to the standard lunch of healthy, overweight people. They discovered that avocados do not significantly impact blood sugar levels.
Part of what makes avocados a good choice for people with diabetes is that, although they are low in carbs, they are high in fiber. Many other high-fiber foods may still spike blood sugar levels.
2. It’s a good source of fiber
One half of a small avocado, which is the standard amount people eat, contains about 5.9 grams of carbohydrate and 4.6 grams of fiber.
According to the National Academies, the minimum recommended daily fiber intake for adults is:
- women 50 years and younger: 25 grams
- women over 50: 21 grams
- men 50 years and younger: 38 grams
- men over 50: 30 grams
A 2012 review published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine looked at the results of 15 studies involving fiber supplements (around 40 grams of fiber) for people with type 2 diabetes. They found that fiber supplements for type 2 diabetes can reduce fasting blood sugar levels and A1c levels.
You don’t need to take supplements to achieve these results. Instead, try eating a high-fiber diet. You can easily increase your fiber intake by eating more low-carb fruits, vegetables and plants, like avocados, leafy greens, berries, chia seeds, and nuts.
3. It may help with weight loss and improve insulin sensitivity
Losing weight — even a little — can increase your insulin sensitivity and reduce the likelihood that you will develop serious complications. The healthy fats found in avocado can help you feel full for longer. In one study, after adding half an avocado to their lunches, participants had a 26 percent increase in meal satisfaction and a 40 percent decrease in desire to eat more.
When you feel full longer after meals, you are less likely to snack and consume extra calories. The healthy fat in avocados, called monounsaturated fat, can also help your body use insulin more effectively.
A 2007 study evaluated different weight loss plans in people with decreased insulin sensitivity. The researchers found that a weight loss diet high in monounsaturated fats improves insulin sensitivity in a way not seen in a comparable high-carb diet. A weight loss diet is a diet with restricted calories.
4. It’s loaded with healthy fats
There are several types of fat, generally categorized as healthy fats and unhealthy fats. Consuming excessive amounts of saturated fat, and any amount of trans fat, raises your bad (LDL) blood cholesterol levels. Trans fats at the same time lower your HDL (healthy) levels. High LDL and low HDL cholesterol levels are associated with a higher risk of heart disease in people both with and without diabetes.
The good fats, monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat, raise your good (HDL) cholesterol levels. The good cholesterol in your blood helps clear out bad cholesterol, which reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Good sources of healthy fats include:
- nuts, like almonds, cashews, and peanuts
- olive oil
- olive, avocado, and flaxseed oil
- seeds, like sesame or pumpkin seeds
An entire Hass avocado has about 250–300 calories. Although avocados have the good kind of fat, these calories can still lead to weight gain if consumed in excess of your calorie needs. If you’re trying to lose weight, it’s essential that you practice portion control. Instead of adding avocado to your current diet, use it as a substitution for foods that are high in saturated fat, like cheese and butter.
For example, you can mash up an avocado and spread it on toast instead of using butter.
How To Eat An Avocado
The FDA’s recommended serving size for a medium avocado is one-fifth of the fruit, which has about 50 calories. However, an analysis of data from the National Nutrition and Health Examination Survey (2001 – 2008) found that people typically eat one half of the fruit in a single sitting. Among these avocado consumers, the researchers found:
- better overall nutrition
- lower body weight
- decreased risk of metabolic syndrome
Picking out an avocado
Avocados take several days to ripen. Most avocados you find at the grocery store will not be ripe yet. Typically, people buy an avocado a few days before they plan to eat it.
An unripe avocado will have a solid green color, a few shades darker than a cucumber. When an avocado is ripe, it turns a deeper, almost black, shade of green.
Turn an avocado around in your hand before you buy it to check for any bruises or mushy spots. If the avocado feels really squishy, it might be overripe. An unripe avocado feels hard, like an apple. Leave it on the kitchen counter for a few days until it softens. You should be able to squeeze it like a tomato to test the ripeness.
Opening an avocado
Using a knife:
- Cut the avocado lengthwise, top to bottom on each side. There’s a pit in the middle, so you won’t be able to slice all the way through the avocado. Instead, you’ll want to insert the knife until you feel it hit the pit in the middle, and then cut lengthwise all the way around the avocado.
- Once you’ve sliced all the way around, take the avocado in your hands and twist and pull the two sides apart.
- Use a spoon to scoop out the pit.
- Peel skin away from the avocado with your hands, or use the tip of the knife to separate the skin from the fruit and gently scoop the fruit out.
- Slice it up and enjoy!
Eating an avocado
Avocado is an extremely versatile fruit. A few things you can try:
- Slice it up and put it on a sandwich.
- Cube it and put it in a salad.
- Mash it up with lime juice and spices, and use it as a dip.
- Smear it on toast.
- Cut it up and put it in an omelet.
- Put some Salsa Sauce on it. (My favourite)
Substituting with avocado
Avocados are creamy and rich, with a mild nutty flavor. Here are some ideas for ways to replace fats with avocados:
- Try putting avocado on your morning toast or bagel instead of butter and cream cheese. You will be substituting bad fats with good, fiber-rich fat.
- Bake with avocado instead of butter and oil. Avocado can be substituted one-to-one for butter.
- Add avocado to your smoothie instead of milk for a blast of nutrients, fiber, and phytochemicals.
- Substitute cheese for avocado in your salad to reduce saturated fat and make you feel fuller.
The above shows that it very beneficial to have avocado as part of your diet despite the one drawback.
That’s it for now.
More about Type 2 Diabetes in coming reports.