There’s no denying that Americans love avocados. During Superbowl festivities alone, 79 million pounds of avocados are eaten. That’s roughly 158 million avocados!
This fat-filled fruit tastes so delicious that it seems like it can’t be good for you! Luckily, that couldn’t be further from the truth – avocados are bursting with nutrients and offer a myriad of health benefits.
In fact, research shows that people who eat avocados tend to be generally healthier, with a much higher nutrient intake and lower Body Mass Index than those who don’t.
So don’t just limit your avocado consumption to Superbowl season…you’ll be missing out on these 20 great health benefits if you do!
Avocados are an incredibly rich source of nutrients and offer nearly 20 vitamins and minerals in every serving. Of your Recommended Daily Values (RDV), one avocado typically contains:
53% Vitamin K
33% Vitamin C
28% Pantothenic Acid
26% Vitamin B6
21% Vitamin E
A Source of Healthy Fats
Although the fat content of avocados is high, they contain ‘good fats’ including monounsaturated fat.
This type of fat can reduce the risk of stroke or heart attack along with the levels of bad cholesterol in the blood.
Manage Your Weight
Surprisingly, eating avocados may actually help you lose weight!
A study, published in the Nutrition Journal, found that eating just half an avocado with lunch helped overweight people feel satisfied and full for longer after eating.
Participants reported a 40% less desire to eat over a three hour period, and a 28% less desire over a five hour period after the meal. They were also more satisfied after their meal and had less desire to snack!
Avocados appear to be helpful in regulating blood sugar levels.
Keeping blood sugar levels stable is important in reducing your risk of diabetes – a disease that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates will affect 40% of Americans at some point during their lives.
After eating half an avocado with lunch, participants had their blood glucose and insulin levels measured at specific intervals.
Even though adding avocado to the meal increased its calorie and carbohydrate content, participants showed no increase in blood sugar levels when compared with those who ate a standard lunch with no avocado.
Chronic inflammation in the body is thought to be responsible for asthma, allergies, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, cancer … and most of today’s modern diseases.
Avocado might just help fight inflammation, thanks to its oleic acid content – the monounsaturated fat in olive oil that’s responsible for much of its healthful properties.
Oleic acid has been linked with reduced inflammation in several studies.
The nutrients lutein and zeaxanthin are really important in fighting macular degeneration, one of the leading causes of blindness in the US.
The only way to get lutein and zeaxanthin into our bodies is through diet, which is why we need to eat more foods rich in these phytonutrients.
And guess what?
One study has shown that avocados are the best source of lutein among the top 20 fruits most regularly consumed. They’re also a good source of zeaxanthin so eat up for better eye health!
Healthy Skin and Hair
With healthy fats and inflammation fighting properties, avocado can give you smooth skin and glossy hair.
One fruit also contains over 20% of your daily dose of Vitamin E which protects body tissue from damage by free radicals, thought to play a role in aging.
Instead of buying expensive Vitamin E enriched skincare creams, eat avocados or try avocado oil and fight aging from within!
Lower Cholesterol Levels
One in three American adults suffer with high cholesterol, doubling their risk of heart disease.
Research has found that eating avocados regularly may be one of those ways. Avocados can reduce total cholesterol levels significantly, lower blood triglycerides, and lower LDL cholesterol (the bad) while increasing HDL cholesterol (the good).
Improve Nutrient Absorption
When it comes to vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, it doesn’t matter how much we eat. It really doesn’t!
What matters is how much we absorb.
Some nutrients are fat soluble, meaning they need to be combined with fat in order for our bodies to assimilate them. Examples of fat-soluble nutrients include Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E and Vitamin K, along with certain antioxidants.
Adding half an avocado to a salad of spinach, lettuce and carrots saw participants absorb the antioxidants alpha-carotene 8.3 times, beta-carotene 13.6 times and lutein 4.3 times better than those who ate the salad without avocado.
Role in Cancer Fighting
A small piece of research points to avocado being beneficial in fighting cancer.
One study has shown that avocado extract may stop or slow the growth of prostate cancer cells. Another has shown that it may help reduce the side effects of chemotherapy.
However, these studies are limited so it may be best to just enjoy avocado for the wealth of other benefits it brings.
Recommended Reading: 14 Cancer-Causing Foods You Should NEVER Put In Your Mouth Again
While you’ll need more than an avocado to build and retain strong bones, eating this fruit regularly might give you a helping hand.
Avocados contain a good helping of bone-healthy nutrients including Vitamin K, copper and folate.
Mix your avocado with a variety of other fruits and vegetables for the best bones you can build – several studies prove that eating fresh produce benefits bone health in both men and women of all ages.
Avocado extract has been proven to reduce symptoms of arthritis of the bones (osteoarthritis).
Thanks to its anti-inflammatory benefits, it may even relieve other sorts of inflammatory-related aches and pains too.
Fiber is an important component of any balanced diet – it keeps your digestive system running smoothly.
Even though fruits and veggies are absolutely loaded with fiber, it’s something that most Americans don’t get enough of!
Aim to hit your fiber target by eating more avocado – one fruit contains 13 grams, around 54% of your recommended daily fiber intake!
Important for Expecting Mothers
According to What to Expect, avocados are one of the most important foods that pregnant women can eat. They’re loaded with folate, potassium, Vitamin C and Vitamin B6.
In particular, folate is really important for expectant mums… it’s essential for the healthy development of the fetus in early pregnancy, while Vitamin B6 helps with the baby’s tissue and brain growth and eases morning sickness.
Control Blood Pressure
According to the American Heart Association, a diet rich in natural sources of potassium is important for controlling blood pressure, thanks to potassium’s ability to reduce the effects of sodium in the body.
Avocados are a great natural source of potassium – with one fruit containing 28% of your recommended daily potassium intake.
However, don’t forget that avocados are a high fat food and excess weight does your blood pressure levels no favors. If you’re adding avocado to your diet, make sure you reduce your fat intake in other areas to balance things out.
An Energy Boost
Adding an avocado to your lunchtime meal may help you avoid the 3pm slump! Of all three macronutrients (carbs, protein, fats), fat is the most concentrated source of energy for our bodies.
Healthy fats provide a slow, steady stream of energy so you can power right through the workday. In addition, when they’re eaten along with a carbohydrate, they slow the digestion of the carbs, meaning you won’t suffer the energy-zapping sugar crash that typically follows simple carbs like white bread.
Avocados are a great source of the B vitamins, which help you fight off illness and infection. They also give you plenty of Vitamin C and E – both natural immune boosters.
Vitamin C is so important for our wellbeing that Dr Mark Moyad of the University of Michigan claims that ‘high blood levels of vitamin C may be the ideal nutrition marker for overall health’.
Enhance Your Mood
An avocado a day might cheer you up thanks to its vitamin and mineral content – especially potassium and folate.
Some studies have found a link between a lack of potassium and depression. A review of several scientific studies on the relationship between sodium, magnesium and potassium in depressed patients, found that depressed men and women all had low levels of potassium.
A 1993 study found similar – depressed patients exhibited lower potassium levels than healthy people did.
Folate, too, is important to stave off low mood and signs of depression, something researchers have recognized since the 1960s.
Copper is a brain stimulant, which is why avocados can be classed as a brain food. After all, they do contain almost 20% of your daily copper needs.
This often neglected mineral is directly linked with higher thought processes and creative or ‘out of the box’ thinking.
Delicious & Versatile
Aside from all the incredible health benefits avocado can bring you, let’s not forget that it’s an incredibly delicious fruit which can be used in a variety of ways.
Sure, you can eat it in guacamole, or add it to salads and sandwiches. But you should know it can be used a whole lot more creatively than that!
- Smother your wholegrain pasta in a Creamy Avocado Pesto
- Try this filling take on an Italian classic – Avocado Tomato Bruschetta
- Blend protein and healthy fats in this tasty Avocado Hummus
- For a light summer lunch, try a bowl of Chilled Cucumber & Avocado Soup with Mango Salsa
- Whip up a batch of delicious Banana and Avocado Bread
- Start the day off with a decadent Pineapple Avocado Smoothie
- Indulge in some Dark Chocolate Avocado Truffles…
- …Or this Raw Vegan Chocolate Pudding with Coconut Cream & Raspberry Chia Jam
Originally written by Jayne Leonard and published on Natural Living Ideas