Dr. Mercola Articles
Burning Fat for Fuel Increases Quality and Quantity of Life
Mon, 24 Apr 2017 05:00:00 GMT

By Dr. Mercola

Humans suffer more chronic and debilitating diseases today than ever before; more than half of all Americans struggle with chronic illness, and 1 in 5 deaths in the U.S. are obesity-related. These discouraging statistics are largely the result of an inappropriate diet.

Most of us eat far too much sugar and grains, and far too little healthy fat. Many also eat too much protein, and most of it of poor quality processed food to boot.  Unfortunately, the notion that glucose is the preferred fuel for your body is a pervasive one.

Everyone from diabetics to top athletes are advised to make sure they eat "enough" carbs to keep their systems from crashing. This misguided advice is at the heart of many of our current health failures. It's also a driving factor in our diabetes, heart disease and cancer epidemics.

Dietary fats are actually the preferred fuel of human metabolism, and this can be traced back to our evolutionary roots. One of the keys to long-term weight management and good health is healthy mitochondrial function, and for that you need to get your net carb, protein and fat ratios correct.

This is the focus of my latest book, "Fat for Fuel." It's by far the most important book I've ever written, and the one I've poured the most heart and soul into because I believe this information has the power to reverse the cancer epidemic and save countless lives.

Shipments of "Fat for Fuel" will begin on May 16. Reserving your copy now will entitle you to six free bonuses. Preordering will also help push the book onto the best seller list, which will go a long way toward informing and educating others.

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How to Improve Mitochondrial Function Through Diet

To improve your mitochondrial function through diet, the key is to eat in such a way that your body is able to burn fat as its primary fuel rather than sugars. Ketogenic diets are very effective for this, as is intermittent fasting and longer water fasts for those who are overweight.

An important yet rarely discussed facet of nutritional ketosis that I explain in "Fat for Fuel" is feast-and-famine cycling. The reason for this has to do with the fact that continuous, long-term nutritional ketosis can actually be counterproductive.

Long-term uninterrupted use of a ketogenic diet can trigger a rise in blood sugar by driving your insulin level too low. This paradoxical situation can arise because the primary function of insulin is not to drive sugar into the cell, but to suppress the production of glucose by your liver (hepatic gluconeogenesis).

If your blood sugar is high due to chronically and excessively low insulin, eating a piece of fruit or other sugar-containing food will actually lower your blood sugar rather than raise it.

All of this can be avoided by cycling in and out of nutritional ketosis, basically going through a one-day-per-week fast and one or two days a week of feasting, where you eat double or quadruple the amount of net carbs.

Your body is designed to have the metabolic flexibility to use both glucose and fat for fuel. The problem is, most people lack the ability to burn fat. This metabolic inflexibility is the direct result of eating a high-carb diet for a long period of time.

As a result, they struggle with weight issues and poor health. Even if they are not overweight they may be "skinny fat" with loads of excess dangerous visceral body fat. Feast-and-famine cycling helps reestablish the metabolic flexibility to burn fat. Another important dietary factor is avoiding late-night eating.

Feeding your body at a time when it needs the least amount of energy will simply result in cellular damage due to the excess production of free radicals. For this reason, I often suggest limiting your eating to breakfast and lunch — a "Peak Fasting" strategy that allows you to fast for 16 or more hours each day.

Having the Metabolic Flexibility to Burn Fat for Fuel Is Key for Optimal Health

When your body is able to burn fat for fuel, your liver creates water-soluble fats called ketones that burn far more efficiently than carbs, thus creating far less reactive oxygen species and secondary free radicals that can damage your cellular and mitochondrial cell membranes, proteins and DNA.

This is why being an efficient fat burner is so crucial for optimal health. Ketones also mimic the life span extending properties of calorie restriction (fasting), which includes improved glucose metabolism and reduced inflammation. As noted in a recent study1 on this topic:

"The extension of life span by caloric restriction has been studied across species from yeast and Caenorhabditis elegans to primates … Here, we propose that the life expansion produced by caloric restriction can be duplicated by the metabolic changes induced by ketosis …

[E]xtension of life span results from decreased signaling through the insulin/insulin-like growth factor receptor signaling (IIS) pathway … An effective method for combating free radical damage occurs through the metabolism of ketone bodies …

A dietary ketone ester also decreases circulating glucose and insulin leading to decreased IIS … [K]etosis results in transcription of the enzymes of the antioxidant pathways.

In addition, the metabolism of ketone bodies results in a more negative redox potential of the NADP antioxidant system, which is a terminal destructor of oxygen free radicals."

Good Fats Improve Glucose Metabolism and Reduce Inflammation

The importance of good fats is also evidenced in another recent study,2 which shows animal-based omega-3 fats reduce the autoimmune responses associated with type 1 diabetes (aka insulin-dependent diabetes), an autoimmune disorder in which your body attacks and destroys the beta cells responsible for creating insulin.

Here, omega-3s were actually found to help regenerate these beta cells in non-obese mice with type 1 diabetes, significantly improving glucose metabolism and lowering inflammatory markers, decreasing the overall incidence of the disease. As reported by Medical News Today:3

"Both nutritional supplementation and genetic therapy normalized blood sugar and insulin levels for a minimum of 182 days, stopped the development of autoimmunity, blocked the lymphocytes from entering the regenerated islets in the pancreas, and drastically increased the levels of beta cell markers.

These results suggest that omega-3 PUFAs may serve as a new therapy for type 1 diabetes."

Fasting Also Helps Regenerate the Diabetic Pancreas

Other recent research shows that fasting can have a similar influence, actually triggering the regeneration of the pancreas in both type 1 and type 2 diabetics.4 As reported by the BBC:5

"In the experiments, mice were put on a modified form of the "fasting-mimicking diet." It is like the human form of the diet when people spend five days on a low-calorie, low-protein, low-carbohydrate but high unsaturated-fat diet … with around 800 to 1,100 calories a day.

Then they have 25 days eating what they want — so overall it mimics periods of feast and famine. [A]nimal experiments showed the diet regenerated a special type of cell in the pancreas called a beta cell. These are the cells that detect sugar in the blood and release the hormone insulin if it gets too high.

Dr. Valter Longo, from the University of Southern California, said: 'Our conclusion is that by pushing the mice into an extreme state and then bringing them back — by starving them and then feeding them again — the cells in the pancreas are triggered to use some kind of developmental reprogramming that rebuilds the part of the organ that's no longer functioning.'"

Fasting May Reverse Type 2 Diabetes

Another researcher specializing in fasting is diabetes expert Dr. Roy Taylor. In a recent calorie restriction trial, type 2 diabetics ate just 600 calories a day for eight weeks. All were disease-free by the end of their fast. Three months later, after returning to their regular diet, seven of the 11 participants were still disease-free. Taylor's team is now testing this type of fasting regimen on a much larger group of 300 people with type 2 diabetes. As reported by The Guardian:6

"… Taylor, who leads the group, thinks that fasting is beneficial because it gets rid of dangerous fat in and around your organs, including two that are important in sugar control — the pancreas and the liver … 'If you have fat around these organs it clogs up the way they work and your body can't control its blood sugars,' says Taylor.

After about 12 hours of fasting, he says, the body uses up all the glycogen in the liver, its go-to source of energy, and starts to dip into its fat deposits. 'The first type of fat to go is that dangerous fat around the organs, freeing them up to do their job properly.' He stresses that people with diabetes should not fast without consulting their doctor — a combination of insulin drugs and fasting can be lethal."

Intermittent Fasting Promotes Health and Longevity

Longo's team has also looked at the health effects of a fasting mimicking diet (FMD) in humans. One hundred participants did three cycles of FMD, which involves semi-fasting for five days each month. The FMD diet is low in calories, sugars and protein, but high in healthy unsaturated fats. After three months, the participants had:7

  • Lost an average of 7.5 pounds and had reduced visceral fat and waist circumference
  • Lower levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), a hormone linked to cancer and aging
  • Lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), an inflammatory marker
  • Lower blood pressure

Sports medicine doctor and fitness guru Dr. Gabe Mirkin also recently wrote an article in The Epoch Times8 describing different intermittent fasting regimens, and how intermittent fasting has benefited his and his wife's health. For starters, his wife, Diana, lost 15 pounds in six weeks, and Gabe lost 30 pounds over the course of a few months.

Historically speaking, net carbohydrate intake (total carbs minus fiber) has always been quite low. Likewise, the diseases we now know are associated with insulin resistance — which is primarily caused by excess consumption of refined carbs — have been quite rare.

Switching from a high-carb diet to one high in healthy fat with moderate protein and low in net carbs helps rebalance your body's chemistry. A natural side effect of this is weight loss, and improved weight management, once you're at an ideal weight. One explanation for this is that you don't actually get fat from eating too much and exercising too little. Nor do you get fat from eating healthy fat. Obesity is typically the result of a high-carb diet, which over time leads to an inability to burn fat for fuel.

Fructose Is a Major Culprit in Obesity and Ill Health

Diets high in refined fructose are particularly troublesome, as fructose activates the enzyme fructokinase, which in turn activates another enzyme that causes cells to accumulate fat. When this enzyme is blocked, fat cannot be stored in the cell. In essence, fructose is the dietary ingredient that causes cells to accumulate fat. Dietary carbohydrates, especially fructose, are also the primary source of a substance called glycerol-3-phosphate, which causes fat to become fixed in fat tissue.

At the same time, high carb intake raises your insulin levels, which also prevents fat from being released. Furthermore, no amount of exercise can compensate for this. This is why it can seem nearly impossible to lose weight when you're eating a lot of refined carbs and foods containing high fructose corn syrup, and why cutting carbs is so critical when you're trying to lose weight.

Keep in mind that when we're talking about harmful excess carbs (aka excess net carbs), we're only referring to grains and sugars, not vegetable carbs. Vegetables contain valuable fiber, and when you cut grain/sugar carbs you actually need to radically increase the amount of vegetables you eat.

You also need to dramatically increase healthful fats such as avocados, coconut oil, egg yolks, raw grass fed organic butter, olives, and nuts like macadamias and pecans that are both low in protein and carbs and high in healthy fat.

The Importance of Fiber Carbs

Fiber from vegetables are important for several reasons, including building a healthier gut microbiome, stabilizing your blood sugar and improving fat burning.9 Fiber is in fact a carbohydrate, but unlike sugars and starches you don't digest it. However, your gut bacteria do, and benefit from it. This is one of the reasons why vegetables, which are low in net carbs, will typically not take you out of ketosis, and you can eat as many veggies as you want.

Fiber can be broadly divided into soluble and insoluble types, and ideally you want to get plenty of both. Soluble fiber helps your body extract and absorb more nutrients from the foods you eat, subdues blood sugar and insulin spikes after eating and keeps you feeling full longer. Insoluble fiber curbs ghrelin, the hunger hormone, thereby preventing hunger pangs from setting in and lowering the risk of overeating. It also boosts your body's fat burning ability by nourishing gut bacteria involved in metabolism.

A third category of fiber, which includes both soluble and insoluble fiber, is prebiotic fiber and digestive-resistant starches. These provide nourishment for beneficial gut bacteria that ferment the fiber, breaking it down into short-chain fatty acids that have potent anti-inflammatory properties and help maintain the structural integrity of the lining in your gut. Raw garlic, leeks, Jerusalem artichoke, green bananas and unripe papaya or mango are good sources.  

How to Implement a Ketogenic Diet  

To implement a ketogenic diet (a diet high in healthy fats, adequate in protein and low in net carbs), the first step is to eliminate packaged, processed foods. The emphasis is on real whole foods, plenty of healthy fats and as few net carbs (total carbs minus fiber) as possible. This typically involves dramatically reducing or temporarily eliminating all grains and any food high in sugar, particularly fructose, but also galactose (found in milk) and other sugars — both added and naturally-occurring.

As a general rule, you'll want to reduce your net carbs to 20 to 50 grams a day or less, and restrict protein to 1 gram per kilogram of lean body mass. To make sure you're actually meeting your nutritional requirements and maintaining the ideal nutrient ratios, a nutrient tracker can be an invaluable tool.

I believe www.cronometer.com/mercola is the most accurate and best nutrient tracker available. Like my nutrition plan, this nutrient tracker is completely free. It's set up for nutritional ketosis, so based on the base parameters you enter, such as height, weight, body fat percentage and waist circumference, it will automatically calculate the ideal ratios of net carbs, protein and healthy fats (including your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio) to put you into nutritional ketosis.

This is what will allow your body to start burning fat as its primary fuel rather than sugar, which in turn will help optimize your mitochondrial function and overall health and fitness. Another key to success on a high-fat, low-carb diet is to eat high-quality healthy fats, not the fats most commonly found in the American diet (the processed fats and vegetable oils used in processed foods and fried restaurant meals). Examples of high-quality healthy fats include:

Olives and olive oil (make sure it's third party certified, as 80 percent of olive oils are adulterated with vegetable oils.

Also avoid cooking with olive oil. Use it cold)

Coconuts and coconut oil (excellent for cooking as it can withstand higher temperatures without oxidizing)

Animal-based omega-3 fat from fatty fish low in mercury like wild caught Alaskan salmon, sardines, anchovies and/or krill oil

Butter made from raw grass fed organic milk

Raw nuts, such as macadamia and pecans

Seeds like black sesame, cumin, pumpkin and hemp seeds

Avocados

Grass fed meats

MCT oil

Ghee (clarified butter); lard and tallow (excellent for cooking)

Raw cacao butter

Organic, pastured egg yolks

To Learn More, Join Me at My Upcoming Live Lecture

There are many professionals or others who would like to dive deep into the details, and if you fall into that category, I want to offer you some opportunities to learn more. On June 14 and 15, 2017, I will be in Colorado Springs for the SopMed's third medical ozone and ultraviolet light therapy training. The 14th I will be giving a three-hour course that goes into many of the details that are not discussed in my new book "Fat for Fuel," either because I learned of them later or there was not room to fit them in the book.

I am also speaking in Florida in November. If you are a physician and are interested in learning about how you can use the ketogenic diet and other therapies for cancer, heart disease, Lyme and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, please be sure and come to our ACIM conference in Orlando, Florida, on November 2 through 4 at the wonderful Florida Conference and Hotel Center.

If you are a patient, there will be a separate and less expensive track on the same date and location. However, you will need to come back to this page in a few days as the registration page for the event is still not up.

Lower High Blood Pressure With More Potassium-Rich Foods, Less Sugar
Mon, 24 Apr 2017 05:00:00 GMT

By Dr. Mercola

Americans struggle with high levels of certain diseases like cardiovascular disease and related high blood pressure. In fact, the World Health Organization ranks this malady, also known as hypertension, as playing the leading role in heart disease.1

Conventional medicine says eating too much sodium is one cause of high blood pressure, but more studies are revealing that it's actually an imbalance between your sodium intake and your potassium levels that may be the problem. According to one study:

"Findings suggest that public health efforts directed toward increasing consumption of K+ [potassium]-rich natural foods would reduce BP [blood pressure] and, thus, cardiovascular and kidney disease."2

Potassium deficiency, known as hypokalemia, can be so serious that it could be fatal. One sign that you may be deficient is high blood pressure, but other things to look for include:

  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Abdominal pain and cramps
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Muscle paralysis

Potassium: The 'Good Salt'

There are a few facts about potassium that few people are aware of. First, it's an essential mineral, but another thing to note is that, as an electrolyte, it plays a crucial role in regard to your blood pressure.

In spite of loads of studies and reports to the contrary, the fact is that it's the balance between salt and potassium that will balance the health of your cells, not lowering your salt intake, unless of course, you're talking about processed table salt.

Foods With High Potassium Content Help Lower Blood Pressure Levels

People with higher intakes of potassium tend to have lower blood pressure levels, so finding the foods to eat that contain it will definitely be good for you. For a good balance of potassium to sodium in your diet, eat fresh, whole, potassium-rich foods. I recommend:

Swiss chard

Avocado

Spinach

Crimini mushrooms

Broccoli

Brussels sprouts

Celery

Romaine lettuce

Additionally, Authority Nutrition3 notes other foods with high potassium content, such as leafy greens, tomatoes and sweet potatoes, wild-caught Alaskan sockeye salmon, melons, bananas, oranges and apricots. Fruits should be eaten in moderation, however, due to the fructose content.

Besides significantly lowering your blood pressure, pomegranate juice may protect your cells from negative effects like premature aging.

It's also high in antioxidant polyphenols to cut your cancer and heart disease risks, and more antioxidants from tannins, anthocyanins and ellagic acid than green tea and red wine, Prevent Disease adds.4

Fruit polyphenols have been shown to have such a positive influence on potentially fatal heart-related issues that related research may even help change recommendations on what fruits are most beneficial to consume for optimal cardiovascular protection, one study concluded.5

A Florida study6 reported that 1 cup of blueberries a day may lower blood pressure and relax arteries. Around 50 hypertensive women were given either 22 grams of freeze-dried blueberry powder or a placebo powder to eat, with the result that the first group, on average, had a 7 mmHg drop in systolic blood pressure.

Raw grass fed yogurt is rich in probiotics, which helps keep blood pressure at balanced levels.

A review of several studies7 found that probiotics may benefit this area of your health naturally because they help optimize your cholesterol and lower blood sugar levels. And small amounts of dark chocolate provide flavonoids that cause blood vessels to dilate.8

Lifestyle Changes You Can Make to Lower Your Blood Pressure

Most people will say they want to live a "healthy" life, but it's usually small, day-to-day decisions that make the difference in the long run. Blood pressure affects your body in a systemic way. If you struggle to maintain healthy levels, you may want to take a good look at your diet.

Conventional wisdom usually tells you to limit your salt intake, but the most impactful way to do the job is to cut down on sugar. As "bad" as salt is touted to be, sugar is far worse.

While you probably already know that processed foods are far too high in refined sodium, it's refined sugar that's the real culprit in the high incidence of high blood pressure and, consequently, the trickle-down effect of diseases that all too often follow along behind, such as metabolic syndrome, atherosclerosis, stroke and heart attack.

More and more studies indicate that sugar can be implicated in high blood pressure levels.9 In fact, one study shows that women who drank just one soda per day had higher levels that those who drank less than that.10

Researchers at the University of California–San Francisco and Touro University California conducted a study11 published in the journal Obesity that looked at the effects of limiting sugar intake. The study subjects were 43 children between the ages of 9 and 18 years.

For nine days, all the children ate meals, snacks and beverages with reduced sugar; however, they were allowed to eat fruit. Their fasting blood sugar levels, glucose tolerance and blood pressure were recorded before each meal.

All of them were given the same amounts of protein, fat and carbohydrates as before, including hot dogs, chips and pizza, but added sugar was replaced with bagels and cereal. In fact, sugar went from 28 percent to 10 percent. Carbs and fructose were reduced from 12 percent to 4 percent.

What Happens When Children Are Given Less Sugar to Eat?

Before long, the diet proved successful, as the scientists noted decreased blood pressure, improved cholesterol and improved liver function. Fasting blood glucose levels fell five points, while insulin levels dropped by a third.

This is particularly astonishing since the added sugar was replaced with bagels and cereal, which are far from healthy. Imagine if it had been replaced with vegetables or healthy fats! Lead author Robert Lustig stated:

"This study definitively shows that sugar is metabolically harmful not because of its calories or its effects on weight; rather sugar is metabolically harmful because it's sugar.

(The study indicates) that sugar contributes to metabolic syndrome, and is the strongest evidence to date that the negative effects of sugar are not because of calories or obesity."12

The Epoch Times quoted senior study author Jean-Marc Schwarz:

"These findings support the idea that it is essential for parents to evaluate sugar intake and to be mindful of the health effects of what their children are consuming. When we took the sugar out, the kids started responding to their satiety [fullness] cues.

They told us it felt like so much more food, even though they were consuming the same number of calories as before, just with significantly less sugar. Some said we were overwhelming them with food."13

Active African-Americans Are Less Apt to Develop High Blood Pressure

Certain factors make high blood pressure more prevalent in some people than in others. One study based in Jackson, Mississippi, showed that African-Americans are less apt to develop high blood pressure if they're physically active on a daily basis.

Further, study subjects who reported engaging in the ideal amounts of moderate to vigorous physical activity were about 24 percent less likely to have high blood pressure years later in comparison to those who didn't.

As it happens, African-Americans have the highest blood pressure rates of any racial or ethnic group in the U.S., making heart attack, stroke and kidney disease risks more prevalent, and even early death. Unfortunately, the odds are high for this demographic. Dr. Keith Diaz of Columbia University Medical Center in New York explained:

"If you're African-American, your odds of developing hypertension [are] pretty high. If you're worried about hypertension or high blood pressure, one of the things you can do to prevent it is physical activity and exercise."14

None of the 1,311 participants in the study had high blood pressure when they started it between 2000 and 2004. They were checked again between 2005 and 2008, and again between 2009 and 2013. Half them were monitored for at least eight years.

The upshot? Those getting 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, or at least 75 minutes of vigorous exercise — specifically from programmed physical activity as opposed to household tasks —  were 24 percent less likely to have developed high blood pressure than people who didn't.

How to Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally

Most doctors charged with helping their patients with high blood pressure issues will hand their patients a pharmaceutical prescription, but there are remedies for this condition that cost far less, financially, physically, overall time consumed and long-term effects combined. Time15 and Authority Nutrition listed several, including:

  • Breathe. Mindfully slowing the breaths you take and breathing more slowly helps you relax, and relaxing helps improve your heart rate, makes your arteries more flexible and lowers your blood pressure, naturally.
  • Relax. Stress does more to negatively affect your body than you can imagine. Bouts of anger or stress, triggering your "fight or flight" hormones, can literally increase your risk of developing heart-related issues. Try the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) and other natural methods to calm and soothe your mind.
  • Curb the coffee and alcohol. While there are studies that contend that moderate alcohol intake can provide heart benefits, overdoing it can raise your blood pressure, as well as cause subsequent health problems. Caffeine can also be a culprit, and it may come from drinking soda. Give it a rest — literally.
  • Walk and exercise regularly. Your heart is strengthened and pumps blood more efficiently, lowering arterial pressure. Just 150 minutes of moderate exercise like walking or 75 minutes of strenuous exercise such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can improve both.16
  • Lose weight. Even losing 5 percent of your total weight can significantly lower your blood pressure,17 and the effect is even greater when you exercise.18
An Avocado a Day Keeps the Doctor Away
Mon, 24 Apr 2017 05:00:00 GMT

By Dr. Mercola

Sometimes people have more than one serious health complication. If those problems happen to be three or more of the most prevalent risk factors for heart disease and diabetes, such as high blood pressure, high triglycerides and a large waistline, they merge into a single disorder known as metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome represents one very serious illness, affecting 40 percent of the U.S. population over age 40.

Scientists from the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University (FAU), conducting a review of 129 scientific studies on the topic of avocados and metabolic syndrome, now call this malady "the new silent killer."1 Dr. Charles H. Hennekens says:

"The major factor accelerating the pathway to metabolic syndrome is overweight and obesity. Obesity is overtaking smoking as the leading avoidable cause of premature death in the U.S. and worldwide."2

Parvathi Perumareddi, doctor of osteopathic medicine and assistant professor of integrated medical science at FAU, explained:

"The pandemic of obesity, which begins in childhood, is deeply concerning. Adolescents today are more obese and less physically active than their parents and already have higher rates of type 2 diabetes.

It is likely that the current generation of children and adolescents in the U.S. will be the first since 1960 to have higher mortality rates than their parents due mainly to cardiovascular disease, including coronary heart disease and stroke."3

It's something you have control over, however. The review concluded that metabolic syndrome is preventable in most cases using dietary measures. In fact, the featured study revealed that one way you can help prevent metabolic syndrome is by eating avocados.4

Avocados: 'It Would Be Hard to Eat Too Much'

Here's why registered dietician Cynthia Sass, with master's degrees in both nutrition science and public health, calls avocados worthy of superfood status: They can effectively combat nearly every aspect of metabolic syndrome.

According to Sass, the "impressive range of studies" the researchers perused also covered the nutritional impact the firm, velvety flesh of this pear-shaped green-black food, technically a fruit, can make on several other areas of the body, not just metabolic syndrome symptoms.

It's possible that more than just the fruit itself may be good for you; researchers found possible benefits from consuming the leaves, peels, oil and even the large pit at the center of avocados (although Sass suggested that sticking to the peeled, pitted flesh would be best until further studies can be done).

Time online notes that avocados not only help stave off belly fat — the worst type of fat to carry — but eating them offers such high amounts of healthy fat compared to other fruits, eating too much would be very difficult to do. Further, it's versatile and filling, as well, Sass noted:

"Fortunately avocado is very satiating. It's almost like they have a built-in stop-gap. This is yet another example of how not all calories are created equal. Avocado blends well with both sweet and savory ingredients, and provides the satisfaction factor that makes dishes decadent."5

Combine avocados with salsa or fruit chutney to make guacamole; mash them with a bit of lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper for a quick vegetable or pita dip, or a delicious addition to egg salad. Serve mashed avocado on poached or lightly cooked over-easy eggs or slice, salt and eat them all by themselves.

The beauty is that it's not just about the versatility and flavor of avocados; the nutritional profile is incredible.

Additional information from the study about this plant-based food, Science Daily said, was that they're also "lipid-lowering, antihypertensive, antidiabetic, anti-obesity, antithrombotic, antiatherosclerotic and cardioprotective."6

Avocados and Cholesterol

If you don't get any other concept about how avocados can literally change your health, this might move you: The high fat content in avocados is a good thing — it's not "bad" fat. In fact, it's good, necessary fat from oleic acid, which is the same monosaturated fatty acid contained in olive oil.

Oleic acid is associated with decreased inflammation, which helps stave off such diseases as cancer.7

Further, neither avocados nor avocado oil are hydrogenated or loaded with trans fats or other unhealthy oxidized fats like most canola, safflower, corn or other vegetable oils you're urged to cook with may be. Avocado oil can even be drizzled over salads and used in recipes calling for other oils.

Avocado oil also has a relatively high smoke point compared to olive oil, making it a better choice for cooking,8 although coconut oil is best for that purpose.

While some people remain concerned that eating high-fat foods like avocados may adversely affect their cholesterol levels, the opposite is actually true (plus, cholesterol is not the evil it's made out to be).

According to the review, people who eat avocados have higher levels of beneficial HDL cholesterol than those who do not. Eating avocados may also lower triglyceride levels compared to eating high-carb diets or diets without avocado.9

Beneficial Nutrients That Make Up Avocados

The California Avocado Commission reports that avocados contain about 22.5 grams of fat, and two-thirds of that is monounsaturated. Other essential nutrients include fiber, vitamins, folic acid, vitamin E and more potassium than you'd find in a banana.

SELFNutritionData reports that avocado also contains small amounts of magnesium, manganese, copper, ion, zinc, phosphorous and vitamins A, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin) and B3 (niacin). In regard to the dietary reference intake (DRI), 100 grams (3.5 oz.) of avocado contain:10

Vitamin K: 26 percent

Folate: 20 percent

Vitamin C: 17 percent

Potassium: 14 percent

Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid): 14 percent

Vitamin B6: 13 percent

Vitamin E: 10 percent

Niacin: 9 percent

According to Authority Nutrition:

"This is coming with 160 calories, 2 grams of protein and 15 grams of healthy fats. Although it contains 9 grams of carbs, 7 of those are fiber so there are only 2 'net' carbs, making this a low-carb friendly plant food."11

Avocados for Your Heart, Arthritis, Blood Sugar Levels and Weight Loss

Research shows several other positive aspects about avocados: One of the most interesting is that people who eat more of them generally weigh less and have smaller waistlines than people who don't, even if their overall caloric consumption is smaller.

The fiber content can also be thanked for this aspect of avocado consumption. It's both soluble, which amounts to 75 percent, and insoluble fiber, the former of which is linked to good gut bacteria, which affects your body's optimal function.12

Avocados also were found to be more filling than other foods. In one study, participants were divided and each half given a meal to eat, one of which contained avocados.

Afterward, a questionnaire revealed that 23 percent of those in the avocado group felt more satisfied and had a 28 percent lower desire to eat within the next five hours.13

All these factors are what help make avocados an incredibly healthy food to add to your diet. One study notes that avocados contain high amounts of lutein, zeaxanthin and phytosterols, and explains:

"Eight preliminary avocado cardiovascular health clinical studies (have) consistently demonstrated positive heart healthy effects on blood lipids profiles.

This is primarily because of avocado's … monounsaturated fatty acids and high-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFA and PUFA) content, but its natural phytosterols and dietary fiber may play potential secondary … roles.

Avocados also have a diverse range of other nutrients and phytochemicals … In particular, avocado's potassium and lutein may help promote normal blood pressure and help to control oxidative/inflammatory stress."14

More and More Avocado Advantages

Antioxidants absorption is another important element to eating this nubby green fruit. In fact, when you add it to salsa or salad, you'll absorb three to five times more fat-soluble carotenoids because of the avocado's lipid content. This, in turn, may help protect your body against free radical damage.15

In other words, when you eat carotenoid-rich foods along with healthy fat avocados, your body becomes better able to absorb more of their fat-soluble nutrients, such as alpha- and beta-carotenes, as well as lutein, zeaxanthin and other antioxidants.

The antioxidants have been noted for their prominent roles in keeping your vision healthy. One study shows the antioxidants protect your macula, located near the center of your eye where your vision is clearest, from short-wavelength visible light, and help prevent age-related macular degeneration as well as cataracts.16

Here's another benefit that's very important: Avocados carry a very light load of chemical pesticide spray residue in comparison with other plant-based foods, so it's not necessary to try to find (or grow) organic varieties. They are a fruit, but unlike so many others, avocados don't contain high levels of fructose. Instead, the healthy fat they offer rivals that of coconut oil, organic raw butter, and raw nuts such as pecans and almonds.

Did you know that avocado oil is also good for your hair and skin? It makes your skin softer and more supple, and renders your hair smoother and less frizzy and tangled than without it, especially if your hair is dry. In fact, it has many of the same properties as coconut oil.


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