What Is Metabolic Syndrome?
According to The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), “Metabolic syndrome is the name for a group of risk factors that raises your risk for heart disease and other health problems, such as diabetes and stroke“. The risk factors are high blood pressure, high blood sugar, unhealthy cholesterol levels and abdominal fat. While each of these factors is dangerous on its own, their combination increases the risks multi-fold.
Metabolic syndrome has been linked with:
- Age – Those greater than 60 are at high risk
- Race – Asians and Hispanics face a higher risk
- Obesity, specifically abdominal fat
- Insulin resistance
- Hormonal imbalance
- Previous history of cardiovascular diseases, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or liver disease
The physiological markers of metabolic disease risk are body weight, BMI, waist circumference and HDL (High Density Lipoprotein) Cholesterol levels.
Metabolic Syndrome is increasingly become a threat; 1 out of every 6 adults is said to be affected 1. However, there is hope – lifestyle changes, proper diet and exercise can significantly mitigate the risks.
Can Avocado Consumption Lower Metabolic Syndrome Risk?
Constituents Of Avocado
Avocados are a rich source of nutrients that are essential for healthy body functioning. Avocados contain potassium, sodium, magnesium, vitamins A, C, E, K1 and B-6, folate, niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, choline, lutein/zeaxanthin, phytosterols, monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) and dietary fiber.
- Monounsaturated fatty acids help reduce bad (Low Density Lipoprotein) cholesterol and increase good (High Density Lipoprotein) cholesterol.
- Natural phytosterols and dietary fiber that may help lower secondary cholesterol.
- High potassium and low sodium helps regulate blood pressure and curb oxidative/inflammatory stress.
- Magnesium has been linked with lower risk of development of metabolic syndrome.
- Avocados are one of the few foods that contain significant levels of both vitamins C and E. Vitamin C plays an important role in recycling vitamin E to maintain circulatory antioxidant protection such as potentially slowing the rate of LDL-C oxidation. Evidence suggests that vitamin C may contribute to vascular health and arterial plaque stabilization. B-vitamins such as folate and B-6 help increase vascular endothelial health and reduce cardiovascular disease risk.
- Avocados have the highest lipophilic total antioxidant capacity among fruits and vegetables. Lutein (belonging to a special class of carotenoids) is an oxygen-containing fat-soluble antioxidant. Avocado fruit also has a unique unsaturated oil and water matrix naturally designed to enhance carotenoid absorption. Lutein reduces circulating oxidized LDL-C, a preliminary biomarker for the initiation and progression of vascular damage.
Studies have shown that a moderate fat diet can be an effective part of a weight loss plan and the reduction of chronic disease risk. The energy density of foods consumed plays a key role – low energy density is linked to improved weight management and weight loss characteristics.
Avocados have both a medium energy density of 1.7 kcal/g and a viscose water, dietary fiber and fruit oil matrix that appears to enhance satiety. It has been observed that consuming half an avocado at lunch on a regular basis reduces hunger and increases satiation.
Trials on avocado consumption conducted on overweight people have shown significant improvements in weight, body mass index (BMI) and percentage of body fat.
The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001 – 2008 indicate that avocado consumption is associated with improved overall diet quality, nutrient intake, and reduced risk of metabolic syndrome.
Avocado consumers had significantly higher intakes of vegetables, fruit, diet quality, total fat, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, dietary fiber, vitamins E, K, magnesium, potassium, vitamin K and lower intakes of added sugars. Body weight, BMI, and waist circumference were significantly lower and HDL-C was higher in avocado consumers.
The odds ratio for metabolic syndrome was 50% lower in avocado consumers vs. non-consumers.