Avocados: More Than Just Healthy Fat

When you hear the word avocados, I’m sure your mind will make a beeline for guacamole. Admittedly, this is the most popular product  made up of this fruit. But the avocado is more than just the sidekick of nachos. It can do so much more.

Right now they’re quite popular as a topping on toast. In fact, there’s an avocado bar in New York called Avocaderia (of course) dedicated to this amazing fruit.

The Avocado: An Introduction

The avocado is a fruit considered as a large berry that contains a single seed. It grows well in tropical and Mediterranean climates throughout the world.

It has a greenish fleshy body. The fruit is egg-shaped or spherical. The outer skin is very dark purple, almost black. The inside flesh has a creamy and smooth texture that a lot of people really like.

Nutrition Content of Avocados

The avocado is known by many to have a really high amount of healthy monounsaturated fatty acids. It’s known to have a good amount of fiber as well. It’s mostly made up of 73% water, 15% fat, 8.5% healthy carbohydrates, and around 2% protein.

Avocados possess a good number of beneficial vitamins and minerals as well. For their mineral content, they have copper, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron. They also have manganese, zinc, selenium, and calcium.

For the vitamins, avocados contain pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), pyridoxine (vitamin B6), folate, vitamin K, and vitamin E. Other vitamins include vitamin C, niacin (vitamin B3), thiamine (vitamin B1), choline, and vitamin A.

On top of that, the avocado also boasts of a number of plant compounds as well as powerful antioxidants.

The Benefits of Avocados

The regular consumption of the avocado is associated with a number of health benefits. Listed below are just a few examples.

Combats Cancer

The avocado has a high amount of oleic acid. This is the main component of olive oil. This type of acid reduces inflammation. It also has positive effects on certain cancers.

In addition, the folate content in this fruit protects against mutations in DNA and RNA during cell division.

One study shows that the avocado reduces side effects of chemotherapy in some cells. Another research shows that avocado extracts inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells.

A study conducted by Ohio State University researchers prove that phytochemicals found in avocados help induce cell cycle arrest, prevent growth, and bring on apoptosis in precancerous as well as cancer cell lines.

The avocado is particularly effective against cervical cancer, stomach cancer, pancreatic cancer, colon cancer, oral cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and skin cancer.

Boosts Heart Health

The regular intake of avocado significantly reduces triglycerides and blood cholesterol and total cholesterol. It also lowers LDL “bad” cholesterol while increasing the production of HDL “good” cholesterol.

The avocado also contains beta-sitosterol. And according to Patricia Groziak, a well-respected registered dietitian with the Hass Avocado Board, the regular intake of this natural plant sterol maintains healthy cholesterol levels.

One research also shows that the addition of the avocado to a well-balanced diet greatly decreases the level of oxidative stress in the bloodstream following the consumption of food.

All these lead to a lower risk of heart disease and a healthier heart.

Deals with Diabetes

There are small-scale studies that show reduced insulin secretion after a meal. There is also an improvement in the regulation of blood sugar levels.

Also, MUFA-rich diets improve fasting insulin levels in insulin-resistant subjects. Monounsaturated fatty acids also help decrease glucose and insulin concentrations. Along with that, the avocado also promotes healthy blood lipid profiles, improves insulin sensitivity, regulates glucose levels, and mediates blood pressure.

The fiber found in this fruit also helps slow down the breakdown of food into usable sugars. This way, the food is absorbed in the body in a more balanced way. And finally, the avocado controls the way glucose is metabolized by the body, which protects the overall health of diabetic individuals.

Increases Nutrient Absorption

Including the avocado into our daily diets will help increase antioxidant and nutrient absorption greatly. Avocados enhance the nutrients found in the other healthy food you eat.

The carotenoids along with the healthy fats work together to make sure your body gets healthier, thanks to the added nutrients properly absorbed.

Relieves Arthritis

Arthritis is the progressive deterioration of the joint cartilage. This fruit has a positive effect on inflammation in connective tissue and can reduce human arthritis risk.

The avocado has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Along with its abundance of flavonoids, omega-3 fatty acids, phytochemicals, fatty alcohols, carotenoids, and phytosterols, this fruit is great in reducing inflammation in muscles, tissues, and joints.

Prevents Osteoporosis

Avocados contain 25% of the daily-recommended intake for vitamin K. And what most of us don’t know, this particular vitamin is vital for proper bone health. Vitamin K increases calcium absorption as well as reduces urinary excretion of calcium.

The fruit also contains other compounds, like lutein and zeaxanthin, which improve bone mineral density and reduce the risk of cartilage defects.

Improves Digestion

Avocados possess both soluble and insoluble fibers. These two keep the digestive system running properly and smoothly. They bulk up stool and make sure food passes smoothly through the intestinal tract.

In addition, these fibers stimulate the gastric and digestive juices so nutrients. That means your body can easily and more efficiently absorb these nutrients. And finally, they reduce the likelihood of diarrhea, constipation, bloating, etc.

The fats in the avocado also nourish the lining of the gut, adding to a better digestive system.

Helps with Weight Loss

Of course, having a well-functioning digestive system leads to healthy weight loss. Avocados provide the feeling of satiety. This means you will feel fuller longer. And this cuts the chances of you snacking in between meals.

In addition, the avocado significantly lowers body mass index (BMI) and body weight, as well as decreases waist circumference.

So what else makes it great in losing weight? The fruit is high in fiber, is low in carbs, and does not raise blood sugar levels.

Protects the Eyes

The carotenoids in avocados are very important in eye health. They reduce the risk of age-related eye diseases, like cataracts and macular degeneration.

The antioxidants also provide help in minimizing damage from harmful ultraviolet light.

Promotes Healthy Skin

The avocado can provide you with naturally smooth and beautiful skin. The carotenoid content in the fruit reduces inflammation in the skin caused by harmful UV rays.

Avocado oil also helps against sunburn damage. It’s also a great natural skin moisturizer, ensuring you get a glowing, healthy, and radiant complexion.

Kate B. Forsyth is a writer for Be Healthy Today, who specializes in health and nutrition. Her passion is to help people get an overall transformation of health that lasts a lifetime. In her blog posts, she goes beyond research by providing health-concerned citizens doable and simple tricks to achieve a healthier lifestyle.

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