You may have never heard the term “Persea Americana.” But I’m sure you have heard of avocados. Chances are you have eaten one or two. Probably more.
Avocados are becoming trendier by the minute. Why? What’s behind the avocado hype? It looks like this could be more than a trend. Avocado is a healthy, whole food. And because of this, it is probably here to stay.
If you are not on the avocado bandwagon yet, it is time to learn why you should be. If you are already an avocado addict, you may not realize the avocado health benefits you are getting. Read on to find out what they are.
Avocado is often added to various dishes for flavor and texture. It is the main ingredient in guacamole, after all!
Avocados vary in shape and color. They can be round or shaped like a pear. They can be green or black. They can weigh anywhere from 220 grams to 1400 kilograms.
The most popular type of avocado is the Hass variety. Avocados are sometimes called “alligator pear.” This is because of its bumpy alligator-like skin.
The flesh of the avocado is yellow-green. People eat the flesh of the avocado fruit.
The skin and the seed are usually thrown out, though the seed can have medicinal properties. It may be worth it to keep the seed.
The avocado seed can help with the following health conditions:
- Hypercholesterolemia (also called high cholesterol for short)
- Hypertension (the medical term for high blood pressure)
- Inflammatory conditions
- Fungal infections
An official serving of avocado is one-fifth of the fruit. This is 30 grams. However, the average consumer eats half an avocado. This is 68 grams.
People often call avocado a “superfood.” This is due to its unique nutritional composition. Avocados have a high content of antioxidants. They also have a rich biochemical profile.
Avocado is a type of fruit. Most fruit consists of carbohydrates. Avocados are instead high in good fat.
Avocado oil consists of 71% monounsaturated fatty acids (called MUFA for short). It contains 13% polyunsaturated fatty acids (called PUFA for short). It also has 16% saturated fatty acids.
Saturated fatty acids help enhance the bioavailability of fat-soluble vitamins and phytochemicals. This means it can increase the absorption of other nutrients in the avocado and other foods consumed with it. It also helps with antioxidant absorption.
Avocados are full of essential nutrients. Avocado nutrition includes the following:
- 4.6 grams of dietary fiber
- 0.2 grams of sugar
- 345 milligrams of potassium
- 5.5 milligrams of sodium
- 19.5 milligrams of magnesium
- 43 micrograms of vitamin A
- 6 milligrams of vitamin C
- 1.3 milligrams of vitamin E
- 14 micrograms of vitamin k1
- 60 milligrams of folate
- 0.2 milligrams of vitamin B6
- 1.3 milligrams of niacin
- 1 milligram of vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)
- 0.1 milligrams of riboflavin
- 10 milligrams of choline
- 185 micrograms of lutein/zeaxanthin
- 57 milligrams of phytosterols
- 6.7 grams of high monounsaturated fatty acids
- 114 calories
- 1.7 calories per gram of avocado
Avocados also contain small amounts of the following nutrients:
A medium avocado has approximately two net carbohydrates. This makes it a low carb friendly food for those on a low carb or ketogenic diet.
One study looked at the habits of people who eat avocados. They looked at the data from almost 18,000 participants from the NHANES study. They found people who ate avocado were overall much healthier than those who didn’t.
They had a higher nutrient intake. They were half as likely to have metabolic syndrome. They also weighed less, had a lower body mass index, and less belly fat.
Avocados do not contain any cholesterol, which makes them heart-healthy.
Research shows that avocados are good for the heart. Several clinical studies are demonstrating that avocado consumption supports cardiovascular health.
One meta-analysis looked at the effect of avocado intake on cardiovascular disease risk. Seven of the studies analyzed found that avocado intake significantly increases HDL cholesterol. This is high-density lipoprotein or “good” cholesterol.
Cardiovascular disease is a leading health problem around the globe. Accumulating studies show that consuming fruits such as avocado reduces the risk of heart disease.
Researchers have widely studied avocado. These studies have demonstrated the potent protective action of avocado on the heart and blood vessels. They believe that avocado can help through the following steps:
- Protects the function of the interior lining of blood vessels
- Regulates metabolism of fats
- Inhibits function of the platelets
- Alleviates ischemia and reperfusion injury
- Reduces oxidative stress
- Attenuates inflammation
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of risk factors. It includes high blood glucose, dyslipidemia, hypertension, and obesity. These lead to an increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. These are some of the leading causes of death in the world.
Metabolic syndrome increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes by three and five-folds, respectively. Several studies have found that avocado can have the following benefits to heart health:
- Lowers lipid levels~
- Lowers blood pressure
- Fights against diabetes
- Fights against obesity
- Prevents blood clots
- Prevents thickening and hardening of arteries
- Protects the heart
The primary fat in avocado is oleic acid. Oleic acid is a monounsaturated fatty acid. It is also in olive oil. Oleic acid is associated with lower inflammation. This type of fat is also resistant to heat. This makes avocado oil a safe and healthy choice for cooking.
Avocados contain lutein. Lutein is a non-provitamin A dietary carotenoid. Lutein and its other form, zeaxanthin, are the only two carotenoids that cross the blood-eye barrier. They do this to form macular pigment in the retina.
There is a variety of scientific evidence supporting a role for lutein in visual function. This is helpful across the lifespan, from infancy to old age.
Studies show that lutein and zeaxanthin are linked to a reduced risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.
There is a decent amount of evidence showing the benefits of consuming whole fruits like avocado. This library of evidence is steadily growing. One of these avocado benefits is defending against colorectal and lung cancers.
Antimicrobial peptides (called AMPs for short) are toxic to cancer cells. One study looked at the cell toxicity of PaDef defensins from avocado on a breast cancer cell line. Researchers looked at the effects as well as the mechanism of action.
PaDef inhibited the viability of cancer cells in a concentration-dependent manner.
This means that more avocado meant more inhibition of cancer cells. This was the first report of an avocado defensin, causing cancer cells to undergo apoptosis (commit cell suicide). Researchers suggested that avocado could be a potential therapeutic molecule in the treatment of cancer.
Because of this type of research, we know that phytochemicals play an essential role in cancer prevention through fruit intake. Studies show that phytochemicals from avocado induce cell cycle arrest. They also inhibit growth and induce apoptosis in precancerous and cancer cell lines.
Recent studies indicate that avocado phytochemicals target multiple signaling pathways. They increase intracellular reactive oxygen. This is what leads to apoptosis. These studies suggest that individual and combination phytochemicals from avocado can be helpful in cancer prevention.
We have all heard how difficult chemotherapy can be on the body. Test tube studies show that avocado may help reduce the side effects of chemotherapy in human lymphocytes.
Osteoporosis is known as a loss in bone density. Avocado can help to prevent bone loss and enhance bone repair. One study looked at the effects of the avocado extract on bone loss and bone repair in rats. Researchers concluded that avocado exhibits a positive effect on bone repair.
Research has shown that avocado extract improves the mood of postmenopausal women. Side note: it also helped to reduce other menopause-related symptoms!
One study investigated the impact of healthy diets containing various levels of avocado on gut health. Researchers tested avocado diets on rats for six weeks.
The results showed that intestinal tissues of rats on avocado diets had significantly higher gene expression. These were the beta-defensin 1, mucin 3, and mucin 4 genes. These rats also had a greater number of mucin-producing goblet cells in the colon.
Mucin helps to assist in digestion. The percentage of avocado in the diet affected how much the biomarkers were altered. The diet with the highest amount of avocado was the most effective diet.
8) Antimicrobial action
Avocado can help to prevent microbial infections. One study showed that avocado inhibits the viability of Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus.
These results are the first report showing the antimicrobial activity of a defensin produced by avocado. This suggests that the AMP from avocados could be used in the control of pathogens.
9) Contain more potassium than bananas
Why do bananas get all the credit? Believe it or not, avocados have more fiber!
An interesting study looked at the Mediterranean diet without avocado and compared it to the diet with avocado. In the avocado group, avocado was substituted for fruit vegetable, oil, nuts, dairy, and legumes.
The avocado group increased their potassium levels in the diet by 552 milligrams per day. This was the most significant difference in nutrients that were observed. This demonstrates that avocado consumers have significantly higher intakes of potassium.
Many people do not get enough potassium in their diet. Potassium is important because it maintains electrical gradients in your cells. Studies show that having adequate potassium intake is linked to lower blood pressure. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure.
10) Loaded with fiber
Evidence of the benefits of eating adequate levels of whole fruits is growing. This is focused on avocados’ bioactive fiber prebiotic effects.
Low whole fruit intake represents a more serious global population health threat than previously recognized. Avocados are loaded with fiber, which is food for the probiotics in the gut.
Fiber is an indigestible plant matter. It helps with weight loss, blood sugar balance, and several other diseases. There are two types of fiber. There is insoluble fiber, which makes up about 75% of the fiber in avocados. There is also soluble fiber, which makes up the other 25%.
11) Lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels
Avocados contain saturated fatty acids-this helps to promote healthy blood lipid profiles. A healthy lipid profile has lower total cholesterol and lowers triglyceride levels. This lowers your risk of heart disease.
Heart disease is the most common cause of death worldwide. Eight controlled studies have looked at the effects of avocado on cholesterol. It turns out avocado reduces total cholesterol levels significantly. It reduces blood triglycerides by up to 20%.
Avocado also lowers LDL cholesterol by up to 22%. LDL stands for low-density lipoproteins. This is what people often call “bad cholesterol.” Avocado also increases HDL by up to 11%. HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein. HDL is what we call “good cholesterol.” It is challenging to increase, so it is worth noting that avocado can do this.
12) Weight loss
Although avocados are high in fat, they can help with weight loss. Exploratory studies suggest that avocados may support weight management.
In one study, those who ate avocado with a meal felt 23% more satisfied. They also had a 28% lower desire to eat over the next five hours compared to those who did not eat avocado. This means including avocado in your diet could help you to eat fewer calories. It could also make it easier to stick to healthy eating habits.
Avocados are high in fiber and very low in carbs. Both these qualities make avocado great for weight loss.
How to add avocado to your diet
Avocados are versatile. They go well with several different types of food. You can even scoop them out and eat them just as they are. They have a creamy, fatty, rich texture. An avocado takes some days to ripen. You can tell it is a ripe avocado when it is slightly soft.
Avocados oxidize and turn brown quickly. You can delay this process by putting some lemon juice on top. There are many healthy avocado recipes out there. Eating avocados is an easy thing to add to your healthy eating routine.
Use it as a topping
You can dice fresh avocado and use it as a relish. This goes great on top of chicken or fish.
Add it to your meals
You can easily add sliced avocado to salads and soups.
You can spread avocado on top of bread, toast, or pita. To make avocado toast, add salt, pepper, tomatoes, chia seeds, and mixed greens on top. You can even add a poached egg if you’d like!
Make a dip
You can mash up avocado with onions, garlic, lime juice, salt, and pepper. This makes great guacamole that you can dip chips, crackers, or vegetables into.
Bake with it
You can use avocado to replace eggs or butter in certain recipes. This helps increase nutrient density. It also improves the ratio of unsaturated to saturated fatty acids.
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Not only is avocado a tasty fruit, but it is good for you too. It is rich in a wide variety of nutrients and good for your heart. It can help improve your vision. It can help prevent and treat different types of cancer. Avocados can help improve bone density, mood, and digestion.
Avocados have antimicrobial action and more potassium than bananas. They are loaded with fiber and can help you to lose weight. They can even help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Avocado is easy to add to your diet. So why not give it a try?
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