Avocados are certainly not underrated these days – everyone knows they are a health freak’s favorite food. While most fruits are made up mainly of carbohydrates, avocados are low-carb and high in healthy fats, with study after study over the years showing the powerful health benefits of the green berry (yes, you read that correctly!). Rightly called a ‘superfood’, avocados have graduated from being just an ingredient in guacamole, to making salads way yummier, smoothies creamier, chocolate icing healthier and skin brighter and more toned. Here are 9 scientifically proven health benefits of avocado, as well as some tasty creative recipes to try…
What Are Avocados?
If you’ve been living under a rock, avocado is the fruit of the avocado tree, which is called Persea Americana. It is famous for its high nutrient content, rich texture and subtle but tasty flavor. It is often referred to as a ‘superfood‘ these days, and even its oil is extracted for its health benefits. There are a few different varieties of avocados, some pear-shaped, some round, some green and some almost black. They can weight anything between 8 ounces (220 grams) and 3 pounds (1.4kg), with the most popular type being the Hass avocado. It is cleverly referred to by some as the ‘alligator pear’, which is very accurate in terms of appearance, because it is shaped like a pear and has dark green, bumpy skin, like an alligator. The light green flesh inside the skin is the edible part, with the skin and pit discarded, despite a short-lived trend suggesting the pit was the most beneficial part to eat!
Health Benefits Of Avocado
There has been lots of research, trials and experiments conducted over the years into the health benefits of avocado, and here are 9 scientifically proven ones…
1. Avocados Are Extremely Nutritious
With nearly 20 vitamins and minerals in every serving, avocados rate incredibly high in essential nutrients. They provide high amounts of potassium, lutein and folate, and are a good source of B vitamins, fiber, vitamins C and E, and natural plant chemicals that may play a role in the prevention of cancer. All this while being low in sugar, sodium and saturated fat and high in healthy monounsaturated fat.
Nutritional Value of 1 Avocado (200 grams)
Calories – 322
Total Fat – 29 grams
Saturated Fat – 4 grams
Monounsaturated Fat – 19.7 grams
Cholesterol – 0mg
Sodium – 14mg
Total Carbohydrate – 17 grams
Dietary Fiber – 13 grams
Sugars – 1 gram
Protein – 4 grams
Vitamin A – 6% of RDI
Vitamin C – 33%
Vitamin E – 21%
Vitamin K – 53%
Thiamin – 9%
Riboflavin – 15%
Niacin – 17%
Vitamin B6 – 26%
Folate – 41%
Calcium – 2%
Iron – 6%
Magnesium – 15%
Phosphorus – 10%
Potassium – 28%
Zinc – 9%
Copper – 19%
Manganese – 14%
Having said that, though, avocados, like any food, should not be binged on! There are certain factors, including age, weight, height, gender and medical status that play a role in figuring out how much fat and calories your body needs each day. As a general guideline, it is safe to eat one-fifth to one-quarter of an avocado two to five times per week, depending on what else you are eating during the day.
2. Avocados Are High In Potassium
So high, in fact, that they beat bananas, which are famous for their potassium content! This important nutrient helps maintain electrical gradients in the body’s cells, and is lacking in most people’s diet. Avocado provides 14% of your daily recommended intake of potassium per 100 grams (3.5 ounces), compared to 10% from the same quantity of banana. Potassium has a range of important functions, with one study linking a high potassium intake to reduced blood pressure, meaning it may reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure.
3. Avocados Are Full Of Healthy Fats
Some 77% of the calories in an avocado are fat, making it one of the fattiest foods in the natural world. Fat, in moderation, is good, and some fats are better than others. As far as avocados are concerned, most of the fat is oleic acid, which is an extremely beneficial monounsaturated fat also found in olive oil. It has been linked to reduced inflammation and may have positive effects on genes linked to cancer.
The fat in avocados can also help absorb nutrients from plant foods, meaning you can actually increase the nutritional value of the vegetables in, say, a garden salad, by adding avocado to it! To explain that further, some nutrients are fat soluble, which means they need to be combined with certain fats in order for the body to actually use them. So, by adding a healthy fat, like avocado, to vegetables with fat soluble nutrients like vitamins A, D, E and K and carotenoids, you are aiding the body’s ability to move them from the digestive tract into areas they can be used. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that adding avocado or avocado oil to salad significantly increased antioxidant absorption from carotenoid-rich food.
4. Avocados Are Full Of Fiber
This is another nutrient we like to rave on about here, because of its significant importance in the diet, and the fact that it is lacking in many Western diets. Avocados have a good dose of fiber, which is indigestible plant matter that comes with a range of health benefits, from reducing blood sugar spikes and aiding weight loss, to potentially reducing the risk of heart disease. A 100 gram (3.5 ounce) serving of avocado contains 27% of your daily recommended intake of fiber, 25% of that being soluble and 75% being insoluble.
5. Avocados Can Lower Cholesterol Levels
A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that avocado could help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels in overweight and obese people. Researchers found that an avocado per day, as part of a specific heart-healthy, cholesterol-lowering diet, reduced bad cholesterol more than participants on the same diet, without the avocado. When cholesterol levels become too high, the risk of heart disease and stroke increases, with an unhealthy diet being the usual culprit.
You may also like: