What’s green, weird looking and full of health?

If you are feeling lazy and want to eat one of the most nutritionally dense foods there is, you should definitely choose this one. Avocados, or Alligator Pear, as it is also known as, is a fruit that can be used in many ways, only your imagination sets the boundaries.

How do you choose an avocado? A ripe avocado is slightly soft when gently squeezed and if the avocado has a slight neck, and not rounded on top, it was probably ripened while still on the tree and will have a better flavor. A firmer (less ripe) fruit can be ripened at home too, by putting it in a paper bag at room temperature.

If you’ve used part of an avocado and want to save the rest for later, you should sprinkle it with lemon juice to avoid the oxidation process (when it turns brown) and store it in a plastic bag in the fridge.

Avocados contain an amazing line-up of phytonutrients (secondary plant qualities, such as antioxidants), such as phytosterols, carotenoids, flavonoids, and polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols. Omega-3 and oleic acid are important fats found in avocado. They are also a great source of vitamin K, dietary fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin C, folate, and vitamin B5 and potassium (they actually contain more potassium than a medium banana!).

Although it is technically a fruit, avocados contain a lot of fat; around 85% of their total calories come from fat. An average avocado contains 30 grams of fat. But: 20 of these are health-helping monounsaturated fats, especially oleic acid. Like other high-fat plant foods (such as walnuts and flaxseeds), the avocado provides you with really unique health benefits because of its unusual fat composition, and not in spite of it.


So, now that I’ve covered the basics: what is this wonderful fruit good for?! Here are 15 health benefits you should consider:

1. Heart health

Avocado contains vitamin B6 and folic acid, which help regulate your homocysteine levels. Homocysteine, and high levels of it, is associated with an increased risk of heart disease. Avocado also contains vitamin E, glutathione, and monounsaturated fat, which help in maintaining a healthy heart.

2. Lowers cholesterol

Avocados are rich in something called beta-sitosterol. This has been proved effective in lowering blood cholesterol levels. According to a study, patients with mildly elevated cholesterol levels who ate avocados for 7 days had 17% decrease in total blood cholesterol levels, a 22% decrease in both LDL (“bad” cholesterol) and triglyceride levels, and a 11% increase in HDL (“good” cholesterol) levels.

3. Keeps blood pressure down

Avocados are a fantastic source of potassium, which helps in keeping your blood pressure at a good level.

4. Inflammation-be-gone

Phytonutrients that are found in avocados, for example polyphenols and flavonoids, have been found to have anti-inflammatory properties. Keeping inflammation down in the body is definitely a good idea, as this can increase the risk for degenerative disorders, such as arthritis, coronary heart disease and other illnesses.

5. Keeps your eyes healthy 

Avocado is an outstanding source of lutein, which known to help protect against age-related eye diseases, such as macular degeneration and cataracts.

6. Keeps tabs on your blood sugar levels 

The monounsaturated (“good”) fats in avocados has been shown to cut back insulin resistance, which helps to regulate blood sugar levels and keep a possible pre-diabetes at bay. Avocados also contain soluble fiber which keeps your gut happy and steadier blood sugar levels.

7. Gives you healthy babies

Avocados are rich in folate (folic acid), which is a B vitamin. The high amount of folate in avocado is central in the prevention of birth defects, such as neural tube defect and spina bifida.

8. Lowers the risk of stroke

For the same reason as above, the high level of folic acid may also protect against stroke. A person that eats a diet naturally rich in folate has a decreased risk of stroke than those who do not.

9. The C word

In this case, cancer. Many studies have proven that avocado can stop the growth of prostate cancer. Especially the oleic acid in avocado is effective in preventing breast cancer. The ability to fight cancerous cells is definitely linked to the unusual combination of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrients. This can almost be expected, however, since cancer risk factors usually include excessive inflammation (see above) and oxidative stress (which is related to a low amount of antioxidants).

10. Neutralizes free radicals

Avocados contain something called glutathione, which a very powerful antioxidant that helps fight free radicals in the body.

11. Slows down your ageing

As avocados are very rich in antioxidants, it aids in preventing signs of ageing. The glutathione (again, see above) can give your immune system an extra kick, slow ageing, and helps your nervous system to stay healthy.

12. No more stink

Yes, this miracle fruit even does this: avocados are one of the best natural mouth washes and bad breath remedies. It cleanses your intestine which is the ultimate cause of a tongue coated in bacteria and therefore also bad breath.

13. Helps you take up more nutrients

Avocados can also increase your absorption of nutrients from other foods! A study shows that participants eating a salad with avocados, absorbed five times the amount of carotenoids than those who skipped the avocado. You can also try to use avocado oil for your salad dressing.

14. Fresh skin

The oil from the avocado is added to cosmetics for a reason: its ability to nourish the skin and make your skin glow is outstanding! It can also aid in treating psoriasis.

15. Your weight

With 200 calories per 100 grams, avocados are quite caloric. This is to be compared to other fruits, which have about 60-80 calories per 100 grams. Avocado is a healthy source of calories though, unlike many other calorie-dense foods that usually contain too much saturated fat and added sugar. Plus, I bet you are pretty full after eating an avocado?

Now I would really love to hear from you: do you make sure to include avocados in your diet? What is your favorite avocado recipe?


(Sources: whfoods.com, webmd.com, fitday.com, healthonlinezine.com)

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