A dark green, bumpy exterior and teardrop shape give the avocado a unique look, but there is much more to this super fruit than meets the eye. As a low-glycemic food, avocados are an excellent choice for people who strive for stable blood sugar levels. Low-glycemic foods do not raise blood sugar as much or as quickly as high-glycemic foods.
Avocados and the Glycemic Index
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the glycemic index is a rating system that shows how quickly blood sugar levels will rise after eating a certain food. Low-glycemic index foods are useful for people who need to control their blood sugar levels or are trying to reverse insulin resistance. However, avocados contain so few carbohydrates that they do not have an official glycemic index value. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition states that although there are not enough carbohydrates in an avocado to measure the fruit's official glycemic index, it is not likely that eating a large number of avocados would cause a "significant rise in blood sugar." This means that although avocados are not included on the glycemic index list, they are still a low-glycemic food because they have a low-glycemic load.
Avocados and Carbohydrates
The healthiest type of carbohydrates are naturally occurring, such as those found in fruits like the avocado. A 1-ounce serving of avocado contains only 3 grams of carbohydrates. Fiber takes up 2 grams of carbohydrates in the avocado, leaving less than 1 gram of carbohydrates for sugar. For the avocado to register on the glycemic index chart, it would need at least 25 grams of carbohydrates in one serving. The extremely low level of carbohydrates and sugar in avocados makes it a low-glycemic food.
Avocados and Fat
Avocados have about 25 to 30 grams of fat each, which is surprising for a food that is touted as a healthy option. The fat in avocados is primarily monounsaturated fat, and it does not increase blood sugar. Monounsaturated fat could improve blood sugar levels, and reverse insulin resistance, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Saturated fat contributes to insulin resistance, a precursor to Type 2 diabetes.
Health Benefits of Avocados
In addition to their low-glycemic benefits, avocados have a myriad of other health benefits and nutritional qualities. Avocados are a source of folate, a vitamin especially important for pregnant women. Other vitamins in avocados include vitamins E, C, B6 and potassium. These vitamins help bolster the immune system and metabolic functions in adults. Additionally, vitamin B6 is critical for fetal brain development during pregnancy. The plant sterols in avocados can lower cholesterol. The antioxidants in avocados may even contribute to cancer prevention.
- Reader's Digest: Avocado
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: What is Glycemic Index?
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: International table of glycemic index and glycemic load values: 2002
- Avocado Central: Diet and Diabetes
- Avocado Central: Avocado Nutrition Facts & Label
- Kids Eat Right: A to Avocados
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Healthy Fats?
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin B6
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin E
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin C