The avocado is a rather unique type of fruit.
Most fruit consists primarily of carbohydrate, while avocado is high in healthy fats.
Numerous studies show that it has powerful beneficial effects on health.
Here are 12 health benefits of avocado, that are supported by scientific research.
1. Avocado is Incredibly Nutritious
What we refer to as “avocado” is the fruit of the avocado tree, called Persea americana (1).
This fruit is prized for its high nutrient value and is added to all sorts of dishes due to its good flavor and rich texture. It is the main ingredient in guacamole.
These days, the avocado has become an incredibly popular food among health conscious individuals. It is often referred to as a superfood… which is not surprising given its health properties (2).
There are many kinds of avocados, and the shape (from pear-shaped to round) and color (from green to black) can vary between them. They can also weigh anywhere from 8 ounces (220 grams) to 3 pounds (1.4 kg).
The most popular type is called Hass avocado.
This is what a typical avocado looks like:
It is often called “alligator pear,” which is very descriptive because it tends to be shaped like a pear and have green, bumpy skin… like an alligator.
The yellow-green flesh inside the fruit is eaten, but the skin and seed are discarded.
Avocados are very nutritious and contain a wide variety of nutrients, including 20 different vitamins and minerals.
Here are some of the most abundant nutrients, in a single 3.5 ounce (100 gram) serving (3):
Avocados do not contain any cholesterol or sodium, and are low in saturated fat. I personally don’t think that matters, but this is one of the reasons they are favored by many “old school” experts who still believe these things are inherently harmful.
2. They Contain More Potassium Than Bananas
Potassium is a nutrient that most people aren’t getting enough of (4).
This nutrient helps maintain electrical gradients in the body’s cells and serves various important functions.
Avocados are actually very high in potassium… with a 100 gram (3.5 ounce) serving containing 14% of the RDA, compared to 10% in bananas, which are a typical high potassium food (5).
Several studies show that having a high potassium intake is linked to reduced blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure (6).
Bottom Line: Potassium is an important mineral that most people don’t get enough of. Avocados are very high in potassium, which should support healthy blood pressure levels.
3. Avocado is Loaded With Heart-Healthy Monounsaturated Fatty Acids
Again, avocado is a high fat food.
In fact, 77% of the calories in it are from fat, making it one of the fattiest plant foods in existence.
But they don’t just contain any fat… the majority of the fat in avocado is oleic acid.
This is a monounsaturated fatty acid that is also the major component in olive oil and believed to be responsible for some of its beneficial effects.
Oleic acid has been linked to reduced inflammation and been shown to have beneficial effects on genes linked to cancer (7, 8, 9, 10).
The fats in avocado are also pretty resistant to heat-induced oxidation, making avocado oil a healthy and safe choice for cooking.
4. Avocados Are Loaded With Fiber
Fiber is another nutrient found in relatively large amounts in avocado.
Fiber is indigestible plant matter that can contribute to weight loss, reduce blood sugar spikes and is strongly linked to a lower risk of many diseases (11, 12, 13).
A distinction is often made between soluble and insoluble fiber.
Soluble fiber is known to be able to feed the friendly gut bacteria in the intestine, which are very important for the optimal function of our bodies (14).
A 100 gram (3.5 ounce) serving of avocado contains 7 grams of fiber, which is 27% of the recommended daily amount.
About 25% of the fiber in avocado is soluble, while 75% is insoluble (15).
Eating Avocados Can Lower Cholesterol and Triglyceride Levels
Heart disease is the most common cause of death in the world (16).
It is known that several blood markers are linked to an increased risk.
This includes cholesterol, triglycerides, inflammatory markers, blood pressure and various others.
The effects of avocado on some of these risk factors has been studied in 8 human controlled trials.
These are studies where people are split into groups… one group is instructed to eat avocados, while the other is not. Then researchers see what happens to their blood markers over time.
These studies have shown that avocados can (17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23):
Unfortunately, all of the human studies were small (13-37 subjects) and short-term (1-4 weeks), but the results were impressive nonetheless.
6. People Who Eat Avocados Tend to be Healthier
One study looked at the dietary habits and health of people who eat avocados.
They analyzed data from 17,567 participants in the NHANES survey in the U.S.
Avocado consumers were found to be much healthier than people who didn’t eat avocados.
They had a much higher nutrient intake and were half as likely to have metabolic syndrome, a cluster of symptoms that are a major risk factor for heart disease and diabetes (25).
People who ate avocados regularly also weighed less, had a lower BMI and significantly less belly fat. They also had more HDL (the “good”) cholesterol.
However… correlation does not imply causation and there is no guarantee that the avocados caused these people to be in better health.
Therefore I don’t think this particular study carries much weight.
7. The Fat in Them Can Help You Absorb Nutrients From Plant Foods
When it comes to nutrients, the total amount of them is not the only thing that matters.
We also need to be able to absorb them… move them from the digestive tract and into the body, where they can be used.
Some nutrients are “fat soluble,” meaning that they need to be combined with fat in order to be utilized.
This includes vitamins A, D, E and K… along with antioxidants like carotenoids.
One study showed that adding avocado or avocado oil to either salad or salsa can increase antioxidant absorption by 2.6 to 15-fold (26).
So… not only is avocado highly nutritious, it can dramatically increase the nutrient value of other plant foods that you are eating.
This is an excellent reason to always include a healthy fat source when you eat veggies. Without it, a lot of the beneficial plant nutrients will go to waste.
8. Avocados Are Loaded With Powerful Antioxidants That Can Protect The Eyes
Not only do avocados increase antioxidant absorption from other foods, they are also high in antioxidants themselves.
This includes nutrients called Lutein and Zeaxanthin, which are incredibly important for eye health (27, 28).
Studies show that these nutrients are linked to a drastically reduced risk of cataracts and macular degeneration, which are common in the elderly (29, 30).
Therefore, eating avocados should have benefits for eye health over the long term.
9. Avocado May Help Prevent Cancer
There is limited evidence that avocado may be beneficial in preventing cancer.
One study showed that it may help reduce side effects of chemotherapy in human lymphocytes (31).
Avocado extract has also been shown to inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells (32).
However, keep in mind that these studies were done in isolated cells and don’t really prove anything about what happens in a living, breathing human.
10. Avocado Extract May Help Relieve Symptoms of Arthritis
Arthritis is a common problem in Western countries. There are many types of arthritis, and these are often chronic problems that people have for the rest of their lives.
Multiple studies have shown that extracts from avocado and soybean oil, called Avocado and Soybean unsaponifiables, can reduce symptoms of arthritis of the bones, called osteoarthritis (33, 34).
Whether avocados themselves can have this effect, and not just the extract, remains to be seen.
11. Eating Avocado May Help You Lose Weight
There is some evidence that avocados are a weight loss friendly food.
In one study, people were split into groups. One group was instructed to eat a meal that contained avocado, the other a similar meal without avocado.
Then they were asked a series of questions related to hunger and satiety.
The people eating the avocado felt 23% more satisfied and had a 28% lower desire to eat over the next 5 hours (35).
If this holds true in the long-term, then including avocados in your diet could help you naturally eat fewer calories and have an easier time sticking to a healthy diet.
Avocados are also high in fiber, and very low in carbs, two attributes that should also help promote weight loss, at least in the context of a healthy, real food based diet.
12. Avocado is Delicious and Easy to Incorporate in The Diet
Not only are avocados healthy, they’re also incredibly delicious and go with all sorts of foods.
You can add them to salads and various sorts of recipes, or you can simply scoop them out with a spoon and eat them plain.
They have a creamy, rich, fatty texture and blend well with various other ingredients.
A notable mention is guacamole, which is arguably the most famous use of avocados. It includes avocado along with ingredients like salt, garlic, lime and a few others depending on the recipe.
An avocado often takes some time to ripen and it should feel slightly soft when ripe. The nutrients in avocado can oxidize soon after fleshing it, but if you add lemon juice then that shouldn’t happen as quickly.
If you’re serious about adding avocado to your diet, then I highly recommend that you watch this video about how to pick, prepare and eat avocados.
At the end of the day, avocados are an awesome food. They’re loaded with nutrients, many of which are lacking in the modern diet.
They are weight loss friendly, heart healthy and… last but not least, taste incredible.
What more could you ask for in a food?
How to Buy Avocado
Get to know the types of avocado
The first thing you need to know when buying avocado is its origin.
The produce and its quality may vary depending on your geographical location and on the season.
This is why you may find different types of avocado on the market.
If you are going to use an avocado for an immediate purpose, choosing a ripe, ready-to-eat avocado would be the best choice.
However, if you are going to buy avocado in advance, it would be better if you buy the firm types and then have them ripen and ready-to-eat at home.
Be mindful about the attributes of the avocados that you are going to buy
This means that the fruit is too ripe.
Dark blemishes, bruises, dents, and brown spots should also be avoided when choosing an avocado.
Potential health risks of consuming avocados
Although avocado is greatly beneficial for your health, you should take into consideration its side effects and be cautious about your daily avocado intake.It is the total diet or overall eating pattern that is most important in disease prevention and achieving good health. It is better to eat a diet with a variety than to concentrate on individual foods as the key to good health.
If you are taking blood-thinners such as Coumadin (warfarin), it is important that you do not suddenly begin to eat more or less foods containing vitamin K, which plays a large role in blood clotting.
For this reason, always make sure to ask your doctor for help prior to eating avocado and mixing it with medications.
Substances called saponins, found in avocados, soy and some other plant foods, have been associated with relief of symptoms in knee osteoarthritis, with further research planned to determine the long-term effects of isolated extracts.
Avocados also contain substances that have antimicrobial activity, particularly against Escherichia coli, a leading cause of food poisoning.
Avocados may even have a role to play in cancer treatment, with some research finding that phytochemicals extracted from avocado can selectively inhibit the growth of precancerous and cancerous cells and cause the death of cancer cells, while encouraging the proliferation of immune system cells called lymphocytes. These phytochemicals have also been seen to decrease chromosomal aberrations induced by cyclophosphamide, a chemotherapy drug.
When it comes to daily consumption, it is recommended that you eat somewhere between a half to a full avocado per day.
It is high in calories, which means that eating more than one avocado per day may cause harmful symptoms to your body, such as diarrhea or nausea.
Even though it may not seem like much, one full avocado is just enough for your body to get the most benefits from the fruit.
Avocado is a very potent, incredibly nutritious, and filling plant.
It is rich in many minerals, vitamins, and different plant compounds, and is also beneficial for heart health and prevents arthritis.
In case you are a person leading a healthy lifestyle, you can easily incorporate avocado into your diet.
With all these great health benefits, is it no wonder that avocados are becoming such a popular choice for healthy dishes.
Why not try some on your next salad or use them to top off a sandwich?
Or make sure that guacamole is on the table when you’re serving chips or veggies as a side dish?
You may be surprised at how healthy you will feel inside and how great your skin looks outside once you start adding avocados to your everyday diet.
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