Avocados are stone fruit that grow in warm climates with a creamy texture. Their potential health benefits include digestive improvement, reduced risk of depression, and cancer defense.
The versatile avocado, also known as the alligator pear or butter fruit, is the only fruit that contains a large amount of safe monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA). Avocados contain almost 20 vitamins and minerals and are a naturally nutrient-dense food.
In this post, as well as a nutritional breakdown, we take a detailed look at the potential health benefits of consuming avocados. We also look at the potential health effects of eating avocados to maintain balance.
The decreased risk of many lifestyle-related health problems has long been associated with consuming a diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables of all kinds.
Numerous studies have shown that a diet that includes foods such as avocados, mostly plant-based, can help reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and overall mortality while promoting healthier skin and hair, increased energy, and lower weight overall.
1. Avocados are nutrient rich
One serving (one-fifth of an avocado, approximately 40 grams), according to the USDA National Nutrient Database, contains:
- 64 calories
- almost 6 grams of fat
- 3.4 grams of carbohydrate
- less than a gram of sugar
- almost 3 grams of fiber
As well as riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, and potassium, avocados are a great source of vitamins C, E, K, and B-6. They also have fatty acids like lutein, beta-carotene , and omega-3.
Don’t shy away, even though most of the calories in an avocado come from fat! Avocados are full of beneficial, healthy fats that help keep you full and happy. Your brain receives a warning when you eat fat to turn off your appetite. Eating fat reduces carbohydrate breakdown, which helps to maintain blood sugar levels stable.
For every single cell in the body, fat is important. Eating healthy fats promotes skin health, increases the absorption of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that are fat-soluble, and can even help strengthen the immune system.
2. Healthy for the heart
Avocados contain a natural plant sterol called beta-sitosterol at 25 milligrams per ounce. To help maintain safe cholesterol levels, daily intake of beta-sitosterol and other plant sterols has been observed.
3. Great for vision
Avocados contain lutein and zeaxanthin, two phytochemicals that are particularly concentrated in the eye tissues, where they provide antioxidant defense, including from ultraviolet light, to help mitigate damage.
Since monounsaturated fatty acids in avocados also promote the absorption of other beneficial antioxidants that are fat-soluble, such as beta-carotene, adding avocados to your diet can help reduce the risk of developing macular degeneration associated with age.
4. Osteoporosis prevention
Approximately 25 percent of the daily recommended vitamin K intake is given by half an avocado.
This nutrient is often ignored, but it is important for the health of the bone.
When speaking about nutrients essential for preserving healthy bones, vitamin K is often overshadowed by calcium and vitamin D, but consuming a diet with sufficient vitamin K will promote bone health by increasing calcium absorption and reducing urinary calcium excretion.
In protecting against colon, stomach, pancreatic, and cervical cancers, sufficient intake of folate from food has shown promise.
Although the mechanism behind this apparent risk reduction is currently unclear, researchers conclude that during cell division, folate protects against undesirable mutations in DNA and RNA.
Avocados may also play a role in the treatment of cancer, with some studies showing that phytochemicals extracted from avocado may selectively inhibit the growth of precancerous and cancerous cells and cause cancer cells to die, while promoting the proliferation of lymphocytes or immune system cells.
It has also been shown that these phytochemicals decrease chromosomal damage caused by the chemotherapy drug, cyclophosphamide.
6. Healthy babies
For a healthy pregnancy, folic acid is extremely important.
The risk of miscarriage and neural tube defects is reduced by adequate intake.
Recent research from McGill University has found that baby mice conceived with sperm from mice with folate deficiency have a 30 percent higher incidence of a variety of birth defects than mice conceived with sperm from mice with adequate folate levels.
7. Lower risk of being depressed
Foods containing high folate levels may help to reduce the risk of depression because folate helps prevent homocysteine, a substance that can impair circulation and nutrient delivery to the brain, from building up.
8. Improved digestion
Despite its creamy texture, an avocado is actually high in fiber with approximately 6-7 grams per half fruit.
9. Natural detoxification
Adequate fiber promotes regular bowel movements that are essential for the daily excretion of bile and stool toxins.
Recent research has shown that dietary fiber may also play a role in regulating inflammation and the immune system.
10. Osteoporosis treatment
Substances called saponins, present in avocados, soy and many other plant foods, are correlated with knee osteoarthritis symptom relief, and more study is expected to establish the long-term effects of isolated extracts.
11. Antimicrobial activity
12. Defense against chronic illnesses
High fiber consumption is correlated with substantially lower risks of developing coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and some gastrointestinal diseases, according to the University of Kentucky Department of Internal Medicine and Nutritional Sciences Program. It has also been shown that increased fiber consumption decreases blood pressure and cholesterol levels, enhances insulin sensitivity, and improves weight loss for obese individuals.
By softly pressing into the skin, you can tell how ripe an avocado is. If the avocado is firm and does not budge, you will need to let it ripen for a few days before consuming. Soft avocados make excellent guacamole or dip, while slicing and adding to a salad or a sandwich are great for firmer avocados. Place an avocado with a banana in a paper bag to speed up the ripening process.
- Instead of butter, spread avocado on toast in the morning.
- In chicken or egg salad, or as a spread on a sandwich, use avocado instead of mayonnaise.
- The avocado’s soft, creamy texture and its mild taste make it the ideal first child food.
Using avocado, try these safe and delicious recipes:
- Coconut kale smoothie
- Roasted Brussels sprouts with toasted pecans and avocado
- Poblano chilaquiles
- Chipotle mango guacamole
Avocado can be used in a variety of different ways, many of which, including avocado oil, are available for purchase online. Avocado oil can be used for cooking or to moisturize the skin or hair, so before buying, check the product details.
As well as integrating avocado into the diet, it is a choice to use avocado products on the skin. In moisturizing items, such as face masks, avocado is a common ingredient.
In disease prevention and for achieving good health, it is the complete diet or overall eating pattern that is most important. Consuming a diet with variety is healthier than relying on particular foods as the key to good health.
It is critical that you do not suddenly start consuming more or less foods containing vitamin K, which plays a major role in blood clotting, if you are taking blood-thinners such as Coumadin (warfarin).
- Avocados, cholesterol and plant sterols. (n.d.)
- Bone health: Looking beyond calcium. (2017, January 11)
- Why is avocado good for you? (LINK)
- Emotional health: Depression and diet. (2017, January 11)
- Folate: Dietary supplement fact sheet (2016, April 20)
- Guzmán-Rodríguez, J. J., López-Gómez, R., Suárez-Rodríguez, L. M., Salgado-Garciglia, R., Rodríguez-Zapata, L. C., Ochoa-Zarzosa, A., & López-Meza, J. E. (2013, November 12). Antibacterial activity of defensin PaDef from avocado fruit (Persea americana var. drymifolia) expressed in endothelial cells against Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus. Biomed Res Int, 986273
- Paul, R., Kulkarni, P., & Ganesh, N. (2011). Avocado fruit (Persea americana Mill) exhibits chemo-protective potentiality against cyclophosphamide induced genotoxicity in human lymphocyte culture. Journal of Experimental Therapeutics & Oncology, 9(3), 221-230
- Percope de Andrade, M. A., Campos, T.V., & Abreu-E-Silva, G.M. (2015, January 27). Supplementary methods in the nonsurgical treatment of osteoarthritis [Abstract]. Arthroscopy, 31(4), 785-792
- Unlu, N. Z., Bohn, T., Clinton, S. K., & Schwartz, S. J. (2005, March). Carotenoid absorption from salad and salsa by humans is enhanced by the addition of avocado or avocado oil [Abstract]. J Nutr., 135(3), 431-436
- You are what your father eats. (n.d.)