We really like it when science confirms something we want to be true. In this case, it has to do with everyone's favourite fruit, avocados, and how adding them to a meal (and removing some carbs) can help you feel more full and satisfied, minus any extra calories.
The study, published in Nutrients by the Illinois Institute of Technology, was pretty simple. It had 31 overweight adults eat either a low-fat control meal, with 76 percent carbs, 14 percent fats, and a total of 680 calories; or a high-fat meal that had the same amounts of calories and total fat, but cut back on carbs, so that fat was a higher percentage of the full meal. In those high-fat meals, subjects ate either half of an avocado, for a meal that was about 40 percent fat and 51 percent carbs; or a whole avocado, for 43 percent fat and 50 percent carbs. They ate either a high-carb or high-fat meal on three separate occasions, then were asked to rate their satiety. The subjects also had their blood taken and analysed for hormones related to fullness or hunger.
The participants consistently said that the high-fat meals — either with half or a whole avocado — were overall more satisfying and left them less hungry (although the half-avocado meal was rated lower on the "fullness" scale than either the high-carb or whole avocado meal). Then there were the blood samples. Researchers looked for amino acids that cause you to feel more full and found them in much higher levels after the whole avocado meal than the high-carb meal. On the flip side, they found higher insulin levels — which can increase your appetite and cause overeating — in people who'd eaten the high-carb meal.
Though the study didn't focus on weight loss specifically, it's easy to see how fats, which make you more satisfied, can factor into that goal — and how avocados, as a popular and tasty form of fat, are an especially great tool. "Fat is a macronutrient that's harder for the body to digest," explained Kristin Kirkpatrick, a registered dietitian at Cleveland Clinic Wellness. Your body needs more time to break down and metabolise fat, compared to macronutrients like carbs or sugar, and the longer that process takes, the longer you'll feel full and satisfied. "If you are truly listening to your body and focusing on eating only when hungry, then it makes sense that foods high in fats can keep you from overeating," Kristin told POPSUGAR.
That means they can also be a tool in weight loss — to an extent, Kristin cautioned. "If you are going to go higher fat, try to keep mono- and polyunsaturated fats as your dominating sources and saturated fats as your once-in-a-while choice," she said. All fats will help you curb overeating, but saturated fat — the kind found in butter, dairy, and animal protein — are also high in cholesterol, which can put you at risk of heart disease; they should only make up about 10 percent of your daily diet. "We need to think not just about overeating but future health, and prevalence or prevention of chronic disease, as well," Kristin said.
As for avocados: Kristin said they're a fabulous choice for any diet. "They are high in monounsaturated fats," she told POPSUGAR, which are one of the "good fats" that are great for losing weight. Beyond that, they're just delicious. "Avocados have a wonderful mouthfeel and are highly versatile," Kristin said. They're a true superfood, combatting overeating impulses and putting you in a position to lose weight without sacrificing taste or depriving yourself.
Craving an avocado yet yet? Slice one up and get cooking with our 15 favourite healthy avocado recipes, great for keeping calories in check and staying full at the same time.