The Wonders Of Avocado – 6 Incredible Health Benefits Of Avocados
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Avocado is a fruit that grows on a tree with the same name and is native to Mexico and Central America. It is green in colour, has a large pit or seed in the centre, and has a creamy, rich flavour.
Avocados are popular for their high nutrient content and health benefits. They are rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, fibre, vitamins C, K, B6, E, and potassium. They are commonly used in many dishes, such as guacamole, salads, sandwiches, and smoothies.
No matter what kind of healthy eating principles you follow, avocados can be a staple superfood. It’s no secret, either, as avocado consumption in the U.S. has tripled since 2001, according to the USDA, and the average American now eats 8 pounds of them a year.
So, what exactly are the benefits of avocados? Here’s a look at what the fruit (yep, it’s a fruit!) can do for your gut, skin, and overall health.
Benefits Of Avocados
Avocados are packed with nutrients and offer a range of health benefits. Here are some of the potential benefits of consuming avocados:
1. They Support Heart Health.
According to Alyssa Wilson, RDN, a metabolic success coach for Signos, “Avocados contain a phytonutrient called beta-sitosterol that has been shown to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels1.”
Beta-sitosterol, a phytosterol with a structure resembling that of cholesterol, works through the hepatobiliary system to lower levels of cholesterol in the body (through excretion).
Avocados are filled with monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), polyunsaturated fatty acids, and incredibly healthy fats (PUFAs). MUFAs and PUFAs reduce blood LDL (bad cholesterol) 2.
2. They Promote A Healthy Gut.
Although you might not think of avocados as high in fibre, they are.
According to Heather Munnelly, FNTP, a functional nutritional therapy practitioner, “A medium-sized avocado contains 3.4 grams of fibre—9 to 16% of our daily fibre needs.” “A diverse and strong microbiota results from the fibre in whole foods. We are healthier when our gut bacteria are in better condition.”
Wilson continues by saying that having a healthy gut and getting enough fibre leads to regular bowel movements, which are crucial for the body’s detoxification process.
3. They Moisturize And Nourish The Skin.
According to Munnelly, most fruits have a high sugar content that the body digests quickly.
However, avocados differ from other fruits in that they are rich in oleic acid, a fatty acid that is also present in avocado oil and olive oil. While oleic acid has many positive health effects, skin health is one of them.
The skin can use fatty acids like oleic acid3 to lock in moisture because it is a metabolically active organ.
4. They Can Help Lower Inflammation In The Body.
According to Wilson, avocados are rich in phenolic compounds, carotenoids, and vitamins C and E, all of which have anti-inflammatory properties. “All of these substances have been shown to enhance cognitive function while preventing oxidative damage and chronic disease.”
Munnelly claims that oleic acid also plays a part in this. Previous studies have shown that diets high in oleic acid protect against diseases associated with inflammation4 and activate the pathways of some immune-boosting cells.
Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an essential omega-3 fatty acid, is abundant in avocados. Preclinical studies have demonstrated that ALA has neuroprotective effects6 and reduces inflammatory pathways in gastrointestinal diseases like colitis models.
5. They Can Help You Maintain A Healthy Weight.
Avocados are frequently promoted as a food that aids in weight loss, particularly in reducing belly fat. But do avocados help people maintain a healthy weight? Not quite. Wilson says that although avocados don’t directly burn fat, they are a good source of nutrients that help people lose weight or keep it off. “Avocados’ high fat and fibre content can make people feel fuller longer, which controls appetite.
Furthermore, we know that those who consume foods high in fibre, such as fruits and vegetables, tend to have a healthier body weight7 than those who do not.” The American Heart Association Journal published a study that dispels the myth about belly fat.
There were two subjects: One group consumed a large avocado daily for six months, while the other group kept their diet the same. The scientists discovered no differences in belly fat between the two groups after six months. However, there was a reduction in both total and LDL cholesterol in the group that consumed an avocado daily.
According to Munnelly, this demonstrates a crucial point: No magic nutritional cures exist. “Eating avocados while engaging in ten other daily activities that raise cholesterol and increase belly fat may not provide the desired results for you.”
6. Strengthens Eye Health.
Wilson claims that avocados are high in the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which may be an unanticipated benefit. According to her, “These two phytochemicals are present in eye tissue and aid in preventing eye damage8, such as that caused by UV light.”
Due to a built-in benefit for absorption, the carotenoids in avocados are particularly significant. The fruit’s intrinsic fats support the bioavailability and absorption of these fat-soluble carotenoids.
Avocado’s Nutritional Value.
Here’s a breakdown of the nutritional value of half of an avocado9:
- Calories: 130
- Fat: 15 grams (The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is 25-35% of total calories)
- Fiber: 7 grams (3-5% of the RDA depending on age and gender)
- Protein: 2 grams (The RDA—which some research scientists believe is modest—is 0.8 grams per kg of body weight)
- Magnesium: 29 mg (6-9% of adult daily needs depending on age and gender)
- Folate: 81 mcg (20% of the RDA for men and women)
How Many Avocados Should You Eat A Day?
Avocados can be used in many ways, making them a favourite food. You can eat them in guacamole, smother them on toast, add them to smoothies for extra creaminess, or use them as a garnish on omelettes, salads, and chilli.
Munnelly notes that studies have shown that eating avocados with other whole-plant foods improves the body’s absorption of phytonutrients like beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.
Munnelly advises adhering to the standard serving size of one-half an avocado with your meal or as a snack as a general rule of thumb.
Due to their nutrient profile of healthy fats, avocados are particularly advantageous if you follow a ketogenic or Mediterranean diet pattern.