The avocado is not only valued for its rich nutrient content, but also for its rich texture and good flavor.
Commonly called the alligator pear primarily due to its green bumpy skin (like and alligator) and also because it is shaped like a pear.
This tropical fruit is incredibly popular among people who are health conscious and is commonly referred to as a super food due to its health properties.
There are over 450 kinds of avocados with different shapes (from round to pear shaped), colors (from black to green) and sizes.
Avocados can also weigh anywhere from 220 grams (8 ounces) to 1.4 kg (3 pounds). The green-yellow flesh inside the avocado is eaten. However the skin is discarded but the avocado seed can be consumed. Read on to learn more about health benefits of avocado.
#1 – High Nutritional Value
The nutritional value of avocados is high, containing over 20 different minerals and vitamins. Some of the abundant nutrients in avocado include:
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B5
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin B6
Moreover, it contains small amounts of Manganese, Magnesium, Copper, Zinc, phosphorus, Iron, Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), Vitamin A, B3 (Niacin) and B2 (Riboflavin).
A serving of 100 grams (3.5 ounces) contains:
- 2 grams protein
- 160 calories
- 7 grams fiber
- 15 grams healthy fats making it a low carbohydrate plant food
Avocados do not contain sodium or cholesterol.
#2 – Contains 2X More Potassium Than Bananas
Potassium is a vital nutrient in the human body because it maintains the electrical gradient in cells among other important functions.
On the other hand, studies have linked a high intake of potassium to reduced blood pressure. High blood pressure is one of the main risk factors for strokes, kidney failure and heart attacks.
#3 – Rich In Healthy Monounsaturated Fatty Acids
The monounsaturated fat (good fats) in avocados is mainly in form of oleic acid.
This acid is known for reducing the risk of developing a wide variety of cancers by suppressing genes that are linked to cancer including breast cancer.
Oleic acid reduces free radicals, inflammation, and is also a heart-healthy fatty acid.
Avocado oil is resistant to oxidation induced by heat, making it a safe and healthy choice for cooking (it does not raise blood cholesterol and triglycerides).
#4 – Loaded with Fiber
How Much Fiber in Avocado? – Avocados have relatively large amounts of fiber which can help reduce spikes in blood sugar, contribute to weight loss and it also reduces the risk of various diseases.
However, it is vital to differentiate between soluble fiber and insoluble fiber.
Soluble fiber feeds the friendly and important gut bacteria which are necessary for optimal functioning of the intestines and body in general.
A serving of 100 grams (3.5 ounces) contains about 7 grams of fiber.
This is about 27% of the required daily intake. About 75% of the fiber in avocado is insoluble and 25% is soluble.
Fiber has various benefits especially for metabolic health and weight loss.
#5 – Lowers Triglyceride and Cholesterol Levels
Heart disease is a very common cause of death and linked to several blood markers such as triglycerides, cholesterol, blood pressure and inflammatory markers.
However, studies have shown that avocados can:
- Reduce cholesterol levels significantly
- Lower LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol by up to 22%)
- Increase HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol by up to 11%)
- Reduce blood triglycerides (by up to 20%)
#6 – Fat Content In Avocados Helps Absorb Nutrients From Various Plant Foods
The total amount of nutrients in your food is not the only thing that really matters. They also need to be absorbed and used in the body.
For instance, some nutrients and vitamins are fat-soluble nutrients which means they can only be utilized by the body when they are combined with fat.
This includes antioxidants such as carotenoids along with vitamins A, K, D, and E.
Besides increasing the absorption of vitamins and nutrients, avocados can also boost the nutrient value of various plant foods.
This makes it a great fat source especially when you are eating vegetables in order to avoid wasting a lot of beneficial nutrients.
#7 – Contains Antioxidants That Protect Your Eyes
Avocados are very high in antioxidants such as Zeaxanthin and Lutein which are very important for good eye health.
These nutrients have been linked to reduced risk of macular degeneration and cataracts which are very common eye conditions especially in the elderly.
Eating avocados has proven to be very important for general eye health.
#8 – Cancer Fighter
Avocado fruit reduces the negative effects of chemotherapy on lymphocytes and also has been suggested it inhibits growth and spread of prostate cancer cells.
On the other hand, a low level of folate increases the risk of breast cancer.
However, adequate intake of folate (dietary folate) helps fight stomach, colon, cervical and pancreatic cancers by preventing unwanted gene mutations.
#9 – Avocado Extract Relieves Arthritis Symptoms
Arthritis is a very common chronic problem especially in Western countries.
Studies have shown that avocado extract reduces the symptoms of arthritis that is commonly known as osteoarthritis. The extract is often mixed with soybean oil for better results. The extract is known as Avocado and Soybean unsaponifiables.
#10 – Help With Weight Loss
Incorporating avocados in your diet can helps in weight loss since it makes you feel more satisfied and with a low desire to eat in the next 5 hours.
In the long-term you will eat fewer calories and can follow a healthy diet with great ease.
Moreover, avocados are low in carbohydrates and high in fiber, two factors critical in weight loss in the context of a healthy diet… based on real food.
How Can You Enjoy All These Avocado Health Benefits?
It is fairly easy to add avocados to your diet primarily due to their fine texture and great taste. You can eat them right out of the “shell” or add them to a garden and vegetable salads.
Mashed avocados can be used in wraps or as spread on sandwiches. They are also very popular for making fresh guacamole with green peppers, chopped tomatoes, cilantro, onion and fresh lemon juice.
Do Avocados Have Any Shortcomings?
Avocados have a relatively high amount of calories and the recommended serving is about 50 calories (1 ounce).
Avocados should be used as a substitute for fatty foods instead of adding them randomly to your diet. Use them in baking by simply replacing the fatty ingredients like butter and oil with avocado.
Cutting An Avocado: Smarter Alternative To Reduce Browning
We looked at how Avocados are packed with nutrition and great to snack on! I put one in my smoothie every day!
However, one of the things everyone dreads is the fact that they go brown so quickly!
Fortunately, there is a solution to this problem! It has to do with the way you cut the avocado!
All you have to do is try a new method, and your delicious avocado will go longer without browning!
How To Easily Preserve Avocados In The Freezer
Food preservation can be one of the biggest money savers that can be utilized. By freezing herbs, for example, you can have them ready for cooking during the winter months.
This video shares some tips and tricks to used for different foods, but mainly avocados.
It’s a great way to stock up when Avocados are in season, extend the life and freshness by a wide margin and have one for a daily smoothie.
Avocado Oil – The New Coconut Oil – [Nutritional and Medical Benefits]
If you are a health conscious individual, there’s a good chance you are already familiar with the proven health benefits of coconut oil and olive oil.
However, you may not be as familiar with the nutritional and medical benefits of avocado oil. The fact is that avocado oil has such an impressive array of benefits that some health advocates are calling it the “new coconut oil.”
Avocado Oil Protects Against DNA Damage and Premature Aging
Avocado oil is extremely high in the xanthophyll carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin. Both of these xanthophyll carotenoids are powerful antioxidants that help prevent oxidative damage to DNA.
Furthermore, the biochemical reactions of the monounsaturated fatty acids found in avocados makes the absorption of these xanthophyll carotenoids much higher (2-15 times higher) than if they were consumed in yellow vegetables like carrots, squash, and peaches and green leafy vegetables that lack this oil.
In fact, eating avocado along with other fruits and vegetables can also make the xanthophyll carotenoids found in these foods more bioavailable. One easy way to do this is to make a salad dressing with avocado oil.
DNA damage in non-reproductive cells causes aging. Thus, if the rate of DNA damage is slowed down, so is the aging process. This is why consuming avocados and avocado oil can ward off:
- Wrinkled skin
- Osteoarthritis damage
- The onset of cognitive issues like memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and cerebrovascular disease.
Avocado oil may not be the fountain of youth but it is certainly more effective than many of the very expensive synthetic anti-aging products on the market and far more tasty of course!
Avocado Oil Is Healthy For the Skin
In addition to its ability to protect against skin wrinkles, avocado oil has been proven to make the skin more elastic. This is true both when the avocado oil is consumed and when it is applied directly to the skin.
This is why avocado facials have become one of the most popular spa treatments. Dry, flaky, or chapped skin can be naturally improved by simply eating avocados once or twice a week.
Avocado oil can also help against the ill effects of being exposed to too much ultraviolet sunlight. It has also been found to expedite wound healing when applied directly to the wound.
Finally, avocado oil has been shown to ameliorate the aging effects caused by years of smoking and excessively drinking alcohol.
Avocado Oil Decreases the Chances Of Cancer
In addition to the xanthophyll carotenoids already mentioned, avocado oil also contains several other highly reactive antioxidants that fight against the formation of cancerous cells and their proliferation.
These include D-mannoheptulose, terpenoids, glutathione, persenone A, persenone B, and various phenols. If cancer runs in your family, eating more avocados is one way you can lower your risk.
While many studies looking at the anti-carcinogenic properties of avocado oil have focused on human cancer cells in vitro (cancer cells grown in a petri dish), clinical studies involving people also look very promising!
The National Cancer Institute has funded research that shows that glutathione is particularly effective against cancer of the oral cavity (mouth), larynx, and pharynx.
In addition, avocado has much higher concentrations of glutathione than is found in any other fruit or food. Avocado oil also shows great promise in protecting against breast cancer and prostrate cancer!
Another area of active cancer research involves a lipid in avocado oil called avocatin B. This intriguing lipid has been shown to selectively target leukemia stem cells! Note that it has no negative effect on normal cells, only the cancerous cells.
This selective process is thought to occur through the fatty acid oxidation of the mitochondria in cancerous cells (apoptosis) but not normal cells. Avocatin B seems to be particularly effective against acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a highly aggressive form of leukemia that has a high incidence of death.
Avocado Oil Helps To Combat the Metabolic Syndrome
The metabolic syndrome is a cluster of diseases that have shared underlying causes. These diseases include cardiovascular disease, obesity (especially extra fat in the belly region), high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes.
If an individual develops one or more of these diseases, they have a much higher risk of developing other diseases in the metabolic syndrome than does someone who does not have any of these diseases.
In other words, one is a predictor of the other. Also, getting diagnosed with one of these increases the risk you have for developing another.
In 2013, a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) was published in the Nutrition Journal. This was a large scale epidemiological study involving 17,567 individuals.
The diet of these individuals was thoroughly investigated, including whether or not they ate avocados. Further, their metabolic syndrome risk factors were accessed (such as abdomen measurement, blood pressure, and blood sugar) over an eight year period.
It was found that individuals who consumed avocado had significantly lower metabolic syndrome risk factors! Furthermore, it was recommended that dietitians recommend to their patients to add avocados to their diet to help avoid metabolic syndrome related diseases.
To reap the full benefit from avocado oil, it is important to eat avocados raw or consume cold-processed avocado oil since heat destroys many of the avocado’s nutritional and medical benefits.
For this reason, you should avoid buying avocado oil that states on the label that it is “refined.” This means it was processed with heat.
If you get your avocado oil by eating raw unprocessed avocados, you should be aware that the highest concentration of the antioxidants are located in the greenest portion of the flesh right next to the skin. Be sure to scrape out as much of the flesh as you possibly from the inner peel of the avocado.
Avocados aren’t just for making guacamole! Avocados add a rich creaminess to smoothies that will increase the absorption of the nutrients from berries and greens! Mashed up, they make the perfect baby food and babies love this green yummy food!
On hot summer days, cold soups featuring the avocado as the base are always a hit!