Avocados Benefits

Introduction

You’re probably familiar with a popular saying, “Food is thy medicine.” However you may not have known that this isn’t just a saying, but a claim supported by science!

In this article we are looking at the king of all breakfasts – avocado! Avocado is a unique fruit, which consists mostly of carbohydrates and healthy fats.

As much as we love the taste of it, its true value lies in the incredible wealth of health benefits! Due to its nutritional properties, avocado is often regarded as a “superfood,” and is a popular choice among health-conscious individuals.

So, should you be incorporating more of it into your diet? Here are 10 scientifically proven benefits of avocado:

Avocados Are Nutrient-Dense

Avocado is packed with a variety of vitamins and nutrients [1], including dietary fiber, potassium, magnesium, high-monounsaturated fatty acids, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, riboflavin – and other nutrients our bodies need for great health.

In fact, Hass avocados (the most common commercial avocado type) are 71% monounsaturated fatty acids, 13% polyunsaturated fatty acids, and 16% saturated fatty acids [2] – which promotes healthy blood and boosts the bioavailability if phytochemicals and fat-soluble vitamins from avocados.

The Main Nutrients In 100g Of Avocado

  • Vitamin K: 26% of the daily value (DV).
  • Folate: 20% of the daily value.
  • Vitamin C: 17% of the daily value.
  • Vitamin B5: 14% of the daily value.
  • Potassium: 14% of the daily value.
  • Vitamin B6: 13% of the daily value.
  • Vitamin E: 10% of the daily value.

Avocado doesn’t contain any sodium or cholesterol and is low in saturated fat. It does, however, contain 160 calories, 15 grams of healthy fats, and 2 grams of protein. And, even though it contains 9 grams of carbohydrates, only 2 of those are carbs (and 7 fiber), making avocado it a low-carb food.

Avocado Is Also An Excellent Source Of Potassium

It’s also worth pointing out that avocado is an incredibly rich source of potassium – a mineral most people struggle to get from their diet [3]. A 100 gram serving of avocado contains 14% of the recommended daily allowance of potassium – which is more than found in the same amount of bananas!

Due to its nutritional properties, avocado has become a staple of many delicious and healthy dishes.

Avocado Can Help Reduce Bad Cholesterol

Avocado is an excellent source of healthy fats that lower “bad” (LDL) cholesterol – and boost “good” (HDL) cholesterol.

Various blood markers – such as cholesterol, blood pressure, and triglycerides – have long been associated with an increased risk of heart disease – the number one cause of death in the world [4].

Studies On Avocados & Cholesterol

One study showed that consuming avocados can reduce blood triglycerides, lower LDL cholesterol by up to 22%, increase the levels of HDL cholesterol by up to 11% – and significantly reduce cholesterol levels overall [5].

A review of several studies showed that replacing some fats with avocado may lower total cholesterol by an average of 18.8 mg/dl (millimeters per deciliter), LDL cholesterol by 16.5 mg/dl, and triglycerides by 27.2 mg/dl [6].

This suggests that avocado-substituted diets may significantly reduce cholesterol and improve our heart health.

Avocado Is Rich in Monounsaturated Fats

Avocado is one of the fattiest plant foods – but the fat it contains is the type our bodies actually need.  It is called oleic acid – a monounsaturated fatty acid that has a ton of health benefits (and is also one main components of olive oil). Studies have shown that oleic acid may help reduce inflammation – and even prevent certain types of cancer [7].

Monounsaturated fatty acids are known to be heart-friendly, since they help lower harmful cholesterol levels in your blood, ultimately reducing your risk of stroke and heart disease [8].

A study carried out in 2015, showed that including one avocado per day as part of a cholesterol-lowering, moderate-fat diet can significantly lower the levels of LDL cholesterol. This means that eating avocados is an excellent way to maximize your heart health [9].

And, since winter is the perfect season for warm, comfort food, you will be pleased to know that the fats in avocado are resistant to heat-induced oxidation, which means that avocado oil is one of the best oils for high heat cooking.

Avocado Is High In Fiber

Dietary fiber has been linked to a wealth of health benefits – from reducing blood sugar spikes, to lower risk of various diseases (including coronary heart disease) [10].

Avocado is loaded with fiber, with 25% of it soluble, and 75% insoluble [11].

Soluble fiber contributes to the health of the friendly gut bacteria in your intestine. These bacteria are essential for your body to function optimally [12]. Insoluble fiber promotes the movement of food through your digestive system, therefore benefitting those who struggle with constipation and irregular stools [13]. 

It May Help You Lose Weight

If you’re looking to shed unwanted pounds, avocados are a great plant-based food to add to your diet!

As mentioned before, avocados are also high in fiber, which is a nutrient that naturally supports weight loss. Foods that are high in fiber or fat are known to make you feel fuller for longer – and more satisfied after eating making you less likely to snack. This happens because both fiber and fat slow the release of food from your stomach [14].

Soluble fiber passes through our digestive system and feeds our friendly gut bacteria, which is responsible for many vital functions, including weight management [15].

A study into avocado effectiveness in helping people lose weight showed that those who ate avocado with a meal felt 23% more satisfied with their food, and had a significantly lower desire to eat over the next 5 hours compared to those who did not supplement their meal with it [16].

Avocado is also a rich source of prebiotics – non-digestible carbohydrate fibers found in fruits, grains, and vegetables (like asparagus, leeks, garlic, bananas, and other). There are various types of prebiotic fibers – and they are also very beneficial for our gut (and body weight) [17].

Several studies have also shown that fiber intake helps lower gut inflammation [18], which is often associated with weight gain and obesity [19].

Various research findings suggest that including avocados in your diet may help you eat less and consume fewer calories, inevitably making it easier to create and stick to healthy eating habits.

But Aren’t Avocados High In Calories & Fat?

They are, but there is no need to fear that they are fattening – as long as you make them a part of a healthy diet which includes other healthy, whole foods.

If you’re trying to shed unwanted pounds, it is important to consume avocados in moderation. This means sticking to reasonable portions – which is considered to be a quarter to a half of an avocado (as tempted as you may be to eat the whole thing!).

Since avocados are delicious and can be included in a whole range of dishes, it is easy to eat too much of it without realizing it. Pay attention to your portion sizes – and you’ll be able to reap its health benefits without slowing weight loss.

Avocado Can Help You Absorb Nutrients From Other Foods

Your body’s ability to absorb nutrients is just as important as your intake of them. Without being able to move the nutrients from your digestive tract to your body, they won’t get used – which essentially is like never having consumed them in the first place.

That’s where avocado comes in! The fat avocado fruit contains may help your body absorb nutrients from other plant-based foods. This is particularly true for nutrients that are fat-soluble (i.e., the type of nutrient that needs to be combined with fat to be used by the body). Fat-soluble nutrients include antioxidants like carotenoids, as well as vitamins A, D, E, and K. Some studies have shown that avocado or avocado oil may increase the body’s ability to absorb these nutrients [20].

So, it is important to include a healthy source of fat like avocado in your meals to make sure the nutrients from other plant-based foods are absorbed.

Avocado Could Help Prevent Certain Types of Cancer

Some studies have even shown that avocado extract may inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells! They are a rich source of healthy monounsaturated fats, as well as antioxidants like carotenoids which have preventative properties. The fats make it easier for the body to absorb these bioactive carotenoids [21].

What Did The Studies Say?

One of the first studies of avocado and oral cancer conducted by researchers at Ohio State University showed that avocados may help prevent it [22]. The study found that avocado extract (taken from Hass avocados) killed or stopped the growth of cancerous cells leading to oral cancer, without affecting normal cells.

However, it is important to note that the evidence is limited since these studies were conducted with isolated cells – and more research needs to be carried out for us to be able to draw a strong link between avocado consumption and cancer prevention.

Avocado May Improve Your Eye Health

Avocados are also a great source of phytochemicals like lutein and zeaxanthin, which are especially important for our eye health. These phytochemicals provide antioxidant protection – and help protect our eyes from various damage, including ultraviolet light [23].

In addition to that, carotenoids have also been linked to a significantly lower risk of cataracts and macular degeneration, illnesses that are common in older people [24].

So, incorporating more avocado into your diet may benefit your eye health in the long term. 

It May Help Relieve Symptoms of Arthritis

Arthritis is a common condition affecting millions of people that causes pain and inflammation in the joints. It is often associated with older adults – but it may affect people of all ages (including children). It was estimated that in 2017, 54.4 million adults in the U.S. had doctor-diagnosed with arthritis [25].

Avocado is rich in monounsaturated fats and vitamin E – the two anti-inflammatory properties which have been associated with a lower risk of joint damage seen in arthritis [26].

Several studies also have shown that avocado and soybean oil extracts (called unsaponifiables) may help reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis [27]. However, more research into its effectiveness is needed.

They’re Good For Longevity & Overall Health

Last but not least, people who eat them may generally be healthier, according to a study involving 17,567 participants!

The study conducted in the US looked at the eating habits and health of people who included avocados in their diet. Those who consumed avocados were found to be significantly healthier than people who didn’t. Their nutrient intake was much higher – and they were much less likely to have metabolic syndrome – a cluster of physiological and biochemical symptoms linked to the development of heart disease, and type 2 diabetes [28]. In addition to that, they weighed less and had higher levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol.

That said, it is important to note that this doesn’t indicate causation because there is no guarantee that eating avocados are the reason these people were healthier.

Woman Holding Cut Avocados

Conclusion

The benefits of avocado speak for themselves; not only are they incredibly tasty, they can also help us stay healthy and live longer too.

High in healthy fats and antioxidants, avocado has plenty of health benefits – from lowering cholesterol levels, boosting your eye and heart health, and even preventing certain types of cancer.

There is also some evidence that eating them may also give you an advantage if you are trying to lose weight. Since it is loaded with fiber, it supports your digestion and metabolism, helping you stay fuller for longer as well as create long-lasting, healthy eating habits. Research has shown that those who consume avocado with a meal feel more satisfied and fuller for longer – making them consume fewer calories overall.

In addition to that, eating them helps your body absorb nutrients from other plant foods, helping your body stay healthy.

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