Avocado Health Benefits
Only recently have I increased my intake of avocados. Weight loss and healthy fat was my original motivation to eat this unique fruit. Nature supplies us with fruits and vegetables as fuel for healthier and stronger bodies. Just about every study related to the health benefits of fruits and vegetables shows us how one particular fruit or vegetable can become a cure-all or somehow aid the body in weight loss. The same can be said about avocado. Avocado is quite peculiar as it’s not really a fruit that is typically eaten ‘as is’ but rather as a nutritious food that helps enhance other meals for example: it can be used as a spread over your favourite toast or crackers, chopped and thrown into a salad, blended into a smoothie or combined with veggies and spices and served as a dip like guacamole.
The biggest benefits of avocado lie in its fat content. Don’t worry, all that fat is the biggest reason why the avocado is among the healthiest fruits out there. To prove that, I’ve compiled a list of the top 10 avocado health benefits you wouldn’t believe a fruit can offer.
1. Healthy Fat
One of the best avocado health benefits is its high fat content. As mentioned earlier, it’s the fat that makes the avocado a superfood. Most of the fat found in avocado is oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid that is similarly found in olive oil. Oleic acid has been proven to be able to reduce inflammation and provide beneficial properties against cancer.
2. Great for vision
They say carrots are healthy for your eyes but the range of avocado health benefits extend to improving vision too. Avocados contain the phytochemicals lutein and zeaxanthin which are important for eye health. Studies prove that these two nutrients are linked to reducing the risks of macular degeneration and cataracts especially when it comes to the elderly.
3. Good source of potassium
Having high potassium is one of the avocado health benefits not many people know about. In fact, avocados beat bananas when it comes to potassium content. In a 100g serving, avocados contain 14% potassium while bananas only have 10%!
Why is potassium important?
- Potassium helps the brain function normally every day. Adequate levels of potassium allow more oxygen to enter the brain which in effect stimulates neural activity and increases cognitive function.
- High levels of potassium will reduce the risk of getting muscle cramps. This is because potassium is required by the body for regular muscle contraction and relaxation. If you lack potassium, your muscles will definitely let you know.
- Potassium is beneficial to those who have elevated blood pressure levels. Potassium helps maintain a normal blood pressure which can translate to reducing the risk of hypertension and other heart diseases.
4. Fights cancer
The thing about cancer is that it can be deadly and we spend so much money on medications and therapies just to find a way to cure it. But as with every other superfood, the ability to prevent cancer is also one of the special avocado health benefits you’ll reap if you give this fruit a shot. One study links this benefit to the folate found in avocados as folate has been known to have anti-cancer properties. Fortunately for us, avocados are a good source of folate with just one-half of an avocado providing 20% of the daily-recommended intake.
5. Plenty of nutrients
Superfoods are called superfoods because they are nutrient dense which means they are literally packed with a lot of good stuff for the body. A 150g serving of avocado can provide the recommended intake of the following nutrients:
- Fiber: 40%
- Vitamin K: 35%
- Folate: 30%
- Vitamin E: 21%
- Potassium: 21%
- Vitamin C: 20%
Not only that, a single avocado contains 240 calories, 3 g of protein, and 22.5 g of healthy fats. It may contain 13.5 g of carbohydrates but around 10 of those are from fiber which makes this fruit relatively low-carb.
6. Loaded with fiber
Fiber is known to be a natural aid when it comes to weight loss, digestion, controlling blood sugar, and has been linked to lowering the risk of other known diseases such as diabetes. Fiber is also known to lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases by lowering cholesterol (especially LDL or low-density lipoprotein) and by lowering blood pressure.
Avocados provide at least 40% of the recommended intake of fiber which makes this fruit an excellent source of fiber.
7. Vitamin K for strong bones
Avocados provide at least 35% of vitamin K per serving. Vitamin K is known to improve calcium absorption of the bone and reduce urinary excretion of calcium. If you don’t have enough vitamin K, you’re more likely to have a higher risk of bone fracture.
8. Lowers risk of cardiovascular disease
Elevated levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure are all factors when it comes to incurring cardiovascular diseases. These are often linked to high amounts of LDL or low-density lipoprotein otherwise known as the “bad cholesterol”. The fat content in avocados contain HDL or high-density lipoprotein also known as, you guessed it, the “good cholesterol”.
Studies confirm that Avocados reduce LDL while also increasing HDL levels which shows a positive health outcome overall when it comes to reducing the risk of heart diseases.
9. Relieves arthritis
Arthritis is a common problem especially among countries with a higher population of middle-aged men and women. More often than not, arthritis becomes a chronic problem that plague people for the rest of their lives. Eating avocado might just help relieve the symptoms of arthritis thanks to a combination of avocado and soybean extracts.
10. Weight loss
Weight loss has always been the favorite food benefit of most people and they are actively seeking the next fruit that shows this property. Weight loss, in a general sense, is all about calories and truth be told, calories in avocados range from 230-240 calories per 150 g slice. For some people that sounds a lot but when we talk about the health benefits avocados can provide, those calories would sound justified if not insignificant.
Besides, the calories in avocado are mostly from its fat and fiber content which are actually beneficial when it comes to weight loss. Fiber and fat have one thing and common and that’s their ability to suppress hunger or make the feeling of fullness last longer. It’s also been shown if a person were to include an avocado or two every day in their menu, they’ll most likely lose weight.
Avocado: Treatment for leukemia
Last June 2015, research was done on the potential capabilities of avocados when it comes to fighting Acute myeloid leukemia (AML). AML is a cancer that starts in the bone marrow where immature blood cells (also called stem cells) turn into mature cells. When a person has AML, these immature blood cells gets turned into abnormal myeloblasts, a form of white blood cell.
Avocatin B, a lipid derived from avocados, shows how it selectively targets leukemia stem cells. The fact that it targets the harmful leukemia stem cells is an incredible discovery. I’m not saying avocado alone will cure cancer but the amazing cancer-fighting qualities it possessses definitely ranks this superfood high on our grocery list of must-buy foods!