Avocado is a unique fruit because most fruits are rich in carbohydrates while avocado is rich in healthy fats. It is generally grown in warm climates and is used in Mexican and South American cuisines. Its texture is smooth and creamy and contains monounsaturated fats. There are a number of studies that show the vast benefits of eating avocados. The avocado tree is called Persea Americana and weighs around 8 ounces to 3 pounds. Also, it is pear shaped and varies in color from green to black. It is full of essential vitamins and minerals and is considered as a superfood.
The avocado fruit has been grown in Mexico since 10,000 years and has later been domesticated by the tribal people, Olmecs and Maya. It was known as an aphrodisiac and was called “ahuacatl” which means “testicles”. In the 16th century it was first consumed by the Spanish who named it “aguacate” and due to them, it was spread throughout Central and South America. Since the 1950s, avocados have been gaining increased popularity throughout the world.
Health Benefits Of Eating Avocados
1. Nutritional Value Of Avocados
Avocados contains 20 different types of vitamins and minerals. In a 100 g serving contains 14% vitamin B5, 13% vitamin B6, 10% vitamin E, 17% vitamin C, 20% folate, 26% vitamin K and 14% potassium. It also contains manganese, magnesium, copper, iron, zinc, phosphorous, Vitamin A, B1, B2 and B3 in lesser amounts. It also contains 160 calories, 15g monounsaturated fats, 2g of proteins and 9g carbohydrates. Carbohydrates: Avocados have a low glycemic index which means that they should not raise the blood sugar levels.
2. Improves Eye Health
Avocados contains lutein and zeaxanthin that are phytochemicals and are mainly concentrated in the tissues of the eyes. They contain the antioxidants that help to reduce damage caused by the UV rays. Also, avocados promote the absorption of beta-carotene in the body which helps to reduce the age related development of macular degeneration and promotes eye health.
3. Aids Weight Loss
One of the benefits of eating avocados is that it can help in losing weight. This is due to the fact that it has healthy monounsaturated fats that help you feel satiety and thus results in you consuming lesser calories. It is also low in carbohydrates and high in fiber that further aids in weight loss.
4. Improves Mood
Homocysteine is formed in the body although, this compound in excessive amounts has a tendency to block neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine that help in feeling good. The one of the main benefits of avocado is that it is high in folate which helps in inhibiting homocysteine and thus enables the dopamine and serotonin production in the body. This helps in promoting sleep, feeling less fatigued and reduces anxiety and depression.
5. Improves Immune System
Avocado benefits the body as it is high in lipids. These lipids help better the absorption of beta-carotene or carotenoids in the body. These carotenoids help in fight cancers and other diseases and in turn, help to boost the immune system.
6. Promotes Skin Health
One of the health benefits of avocados is that they are rich in polyunsatured or “healthy fats”. These fats help to protect the skin from sun damage and it also acts as a natural moisturizer to the skin. It has good amounts of Vitamin C and E which are antioxidants and slow down the process of skin ageing. It can also help reduce inflammation caused due to skin problems like acne.
7. Improves Bowel Health
One of the benefits of eating avocados is that it is a fiber rich food. It helps in regulating bowel movements and prevents constipation. It also can reduce the risk of the irritable bowel syndrome and also other bowel related problems. The recommended fiber consumption per day for men is 38g and for women are 25g which can be partially fulfilled just by eating an avocado per day.
8. Heals Properties
There are many avocado health benefits and one such is that they can help in healing wounds quicker. Studies have shown where rats’ wounds are healed by either giving them topical or oral treatment of avocados.
9. Improves Bone Health
Avocados are high in vitamins and minerals. It contains a good amount of carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin which are great in reducing the symptoms of osteoarthritis. A study showed where 300mg of avocado has significant positive effects on people suffering from knee and hip osteoarthritis. Furthermore, the minerals like selenium, calcium, phosphorus, copper and zinc helps in improving the bone density and also reducing the inflammation caused in the condition known as osteoporosis.
10. Anti Aging Agent
One of the benefits of eating avocados is that they have a good amount of antioxidants like the ones called xanthophylls. This xanthophyll helps in slowing down the aging process and promotes cell longevity.
11. Acts In Coagulation
Vitamin K deficiency leads to bleeding disorders and can even cause hemorrhaging which can prove fatal. Avocados are rich in vitamin K and help prevent Vitamin K deficiency related bleeding in pregnant women. Consumption of avocados by pregnant women can reduce the risk of Vitamin K deficiency related bleeding disorder in infants and also can provide 40% of the daily requirements of Vitamin K in one serving. Thus, people suffering from bleeding disorders can benefit by eating avocados.
12. Improves Oral Health
Bad breath is mainly caused by the condition called halitosis. This can be caused by bacteria, indigestion or acidity. One of the benefits of eating avocados is that they can provide the body with flavonoids that can kill harmful bacteria and can also help in preventing oral cancer.
13. Provides Protection To The Liver
One of the health benefits of avocados are that they can help in reducing liver cell inflammation as it contains good amounts of Vitamin E and K. Furthermore, antioxidants like Vitamin C and E can help neutralize free radicals and thus prevent liver damage or cancer. Chronic liver disease is caused in people with low glutathione levels. This compound helps in reducing the toxic waste in the liver. Although, eating avocados can help in increasing glutathione levels and thus helps to reduce liver damage. Also, avocados contain healthy fats that lower the LDL cholesterol levels in the body and thus, help reduce the damage caused to the liver by fatty liver disease.
14. Prevents Birth Defects
During pregnancy, doctors recommend pregnant women to consume folate supplements as it can help prevent the birth defects like spina bifida and neural tube problems in the fetus. Avocados contain good amounts of folate and thus incorporating folate in the diet of pregnant women can be very beneficial.
15. Better Absorption Of Nutrients
Many a times, the digestive tract is unable to absorb nutrients from plants like fat-soluble vitamins such as Vitamin A, D, E and K. Avocados help in increasing the absorption of the gut and itself contains a high amount of healthy fats needed to absorb such nutrients and vitamins.
16. Lowers Cholesterol
Heart diseases are associated with blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Studies have been conducted on humans and divided in control and treated group. The treated group was given avocado while the others were not. The results showed that the people who consumed avocados, showed an increase in HDL cholesterol levels by 11%, reduction in LDL cholesterol levels by 22% which means a significant reduction in total cholesterol levels and reduction in triglyceride levels to 20%. Studies have also shown where incorporating avocados in a low-fat vegetarian diet, results in better cholesterol profile.
17. Reduces Blood Pressure
Avocados are high in potassium which is necessary in maintaining the electrical gradient in the body and other important body functions. It has higher levels of potassium as compared to bananas and a 100g of avocado contains about 14% of the recommended value of potassium per day. Also, due to lowering of blood pressure, it can help reduce the risk of strokes, heart attacks and kidney failures.
18. Improves Arthritis
Arthritis causes inflammation in joints. Due to the anti-inflammatory properties in Avocados, it can help reduce the inflammation of arthritis. Avocados are being used to treat or prevent the deterioration of joint cartilages and, some studies have showed where avocado supplements like avocado oils can help reduce the symptoms of arthritis in the knees and hips.
19. Fights Cancer
One of the benefits of eating avocados is that they help in preventing cancers. Studies have shown where adequate consumption of folate can help reduce the risks of colon, pancreatic, stomach and cervical cancers. Researchers also believe that folate helps in preventing DNA or RNA damage in cells. As avocados are rich in folate, it can be consumed naturally in the diet.
20. Improves Digestion
Those that suffer from indigestive can turn to avocados as it has high amounts of fibers that help in digesting food and lowers the risk of colon cancer. It has 6 to 7 g of fiber per fruit.
21. Detoxifying Agent
It helps in promoting the excretion of toxins in stools and also studies have shown where it can help the immune system and prevent inflammation.
22. Benefits Diabetic Patients
Diabetics require monounsaturated fats in their diet which helps in lowering the LDL cholesterol in the body. It also contains Vitamin E which reduced cholesterol oxidation and reduces the risks of strokes and heart attacks. Also, it contains Vitamin C which helps strengthens the blood vessels and capillaries and potassium helps in regulating blood sugar levels. It is also beneficial to those who wish to lower the risk of diabetes.
23. Reduces The Risk Of Metabolic Syndrome
Metabolic syndrome is a term for the increased risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Avocados help in stabilizing hormones that are associated with diabetes, cardiovascular health and others. Researchers have conducted studies and have shown results that there is a 50% lesser chance of developing metabolic syndrome in people who consume avocados as compared to those who do not consume.
24. Improves Cognition
One of the benefits of eating avocados is that they help in improving cognitive functions. This is due to the fact that it provides the brain with healthy fats that is crucial for functioning. Studies have suggested that higher fat diets may help in reducing stress mechanisms and improving thought processing and hormone production within the brain.
25. Regulates Blood Sugar Levels
According to the Reader’s Digest, avocados have high amounts of monounsaturated fats that help in preventing insulin resistance, which in turn stabilizes blood sugar levels. Thus, it helpful in preventing hyperglycemia in diabetics.
Types Of Avocados
This will help you get to know the variety of Avocados and where it is produced.
California Avocados: It takes up 80% of the total US market of selling of Avocados. It can be bought all year around and the most common one is Hass avocado. Its skin is rough and bumpy and is comparatively smaller in size as compared to the Florida avocados. It has a nutty and rich flavor.
Florida Avocados: They are present on the market only from July to February. It is twice as large as the California Avocados and it lesser in calories. It is less costly as compared to the California ones.
If you are planning on eating one right away, then choose a ripe one off the shelf. However, if you want to keep it for a few days, then its better to choose one that is firm as it is unripe and can be ripened at home.
You can check to see if the avocado is ripened by gently squeezing it in your hand. If it is a bit soft that means it is ripened but if it is hard and firm; it means it is unripe but nonetheless, you can take it home to ripen. You can look at an avocado and know whether it ripe or unripe by noticing if it is very shiny. If it is too shiny, it indicates it is under ripe.
As for the color, the California ones are unripe when they are dark green and are purplish-black when ripe. The Florida ones are green when unripe and are yellowish when they are ripe. They should not be too soft and contain bruises or blemishes; this indicates that they are too ripe and should not be consumed.
Storing Avocados: Storing uncut ripe Avocados: You can store it in the refrigerator for a couple of days and not more than that as it may get spoiled.
Storing uncut unripe Avocados: Store them at room temperature for maximum 5 days and check its attributes to know whether it has ripened or not. Do not store it in hot places as it may spoil or in the refrigerator as it will not ripen.
Storing Cut Ripe Avocados: You can store it in the refrigerator for an extra day by applying lemon juice or other acidic agents to preserve it. And also cover it in a plastic wrap.
Storing Cut Unripe Avocados: A Hass Avocado can be stored in the refrigerator by applying acidic agents on the halves. But remember to constantly check it texture to see whether it has ripened or not. Also, put it in a plastic wrap.
There are so many benefits of eating avocados. So, next time you can add avocados to your sandwiches or salads. Or learn new recipes that include avocados as the ingredient. It will help to make you healthy.