The latest guidelines issued by the American Diabetes Association emphasize a diet rich in monounsaturated fat for improved diabetes control.

According to the guidelines, people with diabetes are no longer limited to a low-carbohydrate/low-fat diet and may instead choose a higher-monounsaturated fat diet that includes avocados.

"Avocados are one of the best sources of monounsaturated fat, the fat known to lower artery-clogging LDL cholesterol and raise heart-healthy HDL cholesterol," explains Robyn Webb, M.S., ADA author and nutritionist. "This is especially important for people with diabetes as they are at greater risk for heart disease."

The guidelines are part of the American Diabetes Association's "Evidence-Based Nutrition Principles and Recommendations for the Treatment and Prevention of Diabetes and Related Complications," released earlier this year. Specifically, the new guidelines recommend that carbohydrate and monounsaturated fat intake should account for 60-70% of calorie intake for people with diabetes, and 15-20% should come from protein. Avocados are among the top food sources recommended for monounsaturated fat. In addition, the guidelines suggest that lessthan 10% of caloric intake should come from saturated fats. Overall, each individual's metabolic profile and need to lose weight should determine the total fat intake.1

"The new American Diabetes Association guidelines also present evidence that a diet high in monounsaturated fat can improve glucose tolerance and may also reduce insulin resistance allowing for better control of the disease, however moderation is the key," adds Webb.

Studies show it is more important than ever for people with higher than normal blood glucose levels to consume nutritionally sound foods like avocados. Results from the Diabetes Prevention Program, a landmark clinical trial from the National Institute for Health released in August 2001, indicate that diet intervention and exercise conclusively slash type 2 diabetes risk by up to 58%. According to the American Diabetes Association, at least 10 million Americans are at high risk for type 2 diabetes, the most common form where either the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells ignore the insulin.

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While avocados may be best known for their monounsaturated fat, they contain other important nutrients beneficial to a healthy food program for people with diabetes. Recent research from UCLA indicates that California avocados are the highest fruit source of the powerful antioxidant vitamin E, which is known to neutralize free radicals that may cause some of the complications of diabetes, such as heart disease and nerve damage.

California avocados are nature's whole food and are nutrient dense, versatile and a delicious part of a healthful diet. Ounce for ounce, California avocados contain more fiber, folate, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and magnesium than any other commonly eaten fruit. They are naturally cholesterol and sodium free and serve as a healthier alternative to butter, sour cream and other dips and spreads.

California Avocado Nutrition Tips For People With Diabetes

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  1. Enjoy guacamole with raw vegetables or baked or fat-free tortilla chips.
  2. Spread avocado on a sandwich instead of mayonnaise and save 17 grams of fat while boosting nutrition.
  3. Dress up a salad with fresh avocado, lemon juice and a pinch of salt -- or balsamic vinegar -- instead of creamy salad dressing. You'll add more flavor and save 10 grams of fat.
  4. Top whole-wheat crackers with fresh avocado instead of cheddar cheese for a delicious snack with half the calories and less fat.

Reference:
1. Evidence-Based Nutrition Principles and Recommendations for the Treatment and Prevention of Diabetes and Related Complications. Annual Review of Diabetes 2002, American Diabetes Association, pages 70-120, January 2002.


California Avocado Commission