Avocado is one of the healthiest fruit known to man. Interestingly they weren’t the top choice of the fruit of health-conscious people till recently. Most calories conscious people stayed away from avocados thanks to its reputation for being high in fats and calories. Avocado is high in fat, but it is not saturated fat. The fat found in avocados is monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) which is excellent for health. This superfood is also packed with nutrients like healthy fat, fibre, Vitamin K Vitamin C, folate, potassium, magnesium and more. No wonder it had so many nutritional benefits.
- Suggested read: Difference between Saturated and Unsaturated Fats
Key nutrients in a Avocado
- Monounsaturated fats
- Fat-soluble Vitamin A, E and K
- Water-soluble Vitamin B and C
- Minerals like magnesium, potassium, iron and copper
- Antioxidant phytochemicals like bête sitosterol, glutathione and lutein
- Phytonutrients – polyphenols and flavonoids
Here are some of the most important health benefits of avocado:
#1. Improves digestion
Avocados contain fibres which help in the digestive process. In fact, one serving of avocados can take care of 40 % of your daily fibre requirements. A diet rich in fibres helps prevent diverticular disease, which leads to the growth of pockets in the colon. Avocados stimulate gastric and digestive juices so that the nutrients in the food that we eat are absorbed well. If you’re suffering from constipation or diarrhoea, this is an excellent fruit for you.
#2. Prevents bad breath
Bad breath is linked to indigestion. So with the improvement in digestion, this problem also gets solved automatically. Antioxidants and antibacterial flavonoids found in avocados kill the bad breath-causing bacteria. Avocados also help in preventing oral cancer.
#3. Healthy skin and hair
Avocados contain nutrients that are essential for healthy skin. They are also used in many cosmetics because of their ability to nourish the skin and make it glow. People also use avocados in hair masks to add shine to their hair. Beta-carotene and lycopene found in avocados help in improving skin and eliminating signs of ageing.
#4. Improves eye health
Avocado contains lutein and Zeaxanthin which are great for eyes. One ounce of avocado contains 80 micrograms of lutein. Lutein is a carotenoid which filters harmful blue light and keeps our eyes healthy. Avocados help prevent cataracts, eye disease related to age and macular degeneration.
#5. Improves heart health
Beta cortisol, found in avocados, helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Avocados are high in potassium, which helps in preventing hypertension. Potassium helps in relaxing the tension of blood vessels and arteries, thus reducing the chances of clotting, heart attacks and strokes.
#6. Prevents arthritis
Avocado helps to reduce inflammation of tissues, joints and muscles. According to specific studies, extracts from avocados are beneficial in reducing symptoms of arthritis. Avocados are rich in vitamin E, which has anti-inflammatory effects.
#7. Anti-cancer properties
Avocado contains carotenoids and monounsaturated fats that help prevent cancers like breast cancer and prostate cancer. Avocados also contain Glutathione, an antioxidant that protects cells from cancer. Many studies have been done on the anti-cancerous properties of avocado, and it has been found that the nutrients in avocados help in killing cancerous cells.
#8. Controls Diabetes
According to a study, extracts of the avocado leaf can help in lowering blood glucose levels. Avocados are highly beneficial for diabetic patients as they help the body break down food into sugars so that it can be absorbed into the body better. The carbohydrates in avocado are made up of 7 carbon sugars that inhibit hexokinase. This helps control the way sugar is metabolised in the body. Avocados also contain vitamin C which strengthens blood vessels and capillaries.
Avocados are high in monounsaturated fats that aid in nutrient absorption in the body. They also help in reducing hunger and cravings. The high fibre content of this fruit gives a feeling of fullness and helps avoid snacking. So, avocados are great for those who want to lose weight.
#10. Beneficial during pregnancy
Avocados should be part of every pregnant woman’s diet. They contain some nutrients that are essential for a healthy pregnancy. Avocados contain folic acid which prevents congenital disabilities like spina bifida. Vitamin K found in avocados are also beneficial for pregnant women.
Avocados help in preventing morning sickness during pregnancy. Avocados contain vitamin B6, which helps prevent nausea and vomiting.
Origin of Avocado
Avocados first originated in Puebla, located in South Central Mexico, nearly 10,000 years ago. Mesoamerican tribes domesticated the avocado tree 5000 years ago. This superfood is also known as fertility fruit, alligator pear and butter fruit.
Avocados are harvested early and then allowed to ripen. They are high in nutrition and calorie dense. Every 100 grams of avocado contains around 160 calories. Avocados are not very sweet but are thick and creamy in texture. This fruit has a very thick skin, and this protects it from pesticides.
Now that we have gained knowledge about the various benefits of avocados and its history, it is time to learn how they can be added to our diet.
- Avocados can be eaten raw and can be added to salads.
- Whip them in a blender and use them in deserts and smoothies.
- Mash it into a smooth paste, and you can feed this nutritious mix to babies.
- Use it in place of fat in baking.
- It can also add to the nutritional content of your soup.
- Spread mashed avocados on toast instead of butter.
- You can also add avocado slices to sandwiches and burgers.
Avocados are rich in nutrition and are good for health. But that does not mean that you overeat them. Eat them in moderation or else you risk putting on weight. The other side effects of consuming too much avocado are – migraine, nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light.