The avocado is a rather unique fruit. While most fruit consists primarily of carbohydrate, avocado is high in healthy fats. Numerous studies show that it has powerful health benefits. Here are 12 health benefits of avocado that are supported by scientific research.
1. Avocado Is Incredibly Nutritious
Avocado is the fruit of the avocado tree, scientifically known as Persea americana. This fruit is prized for its high nutrient value and is added to various dishes due to its good flavor and rich texture. It is the main ingredient in guacamole. These days, the avocado has become an incredibly popular food among health-conscious individuals. It’s often referred to as a superfood, which is not surprising given its health properties.
There are many types of avocado that vary in shape and color — from pear-shaped to round and green to black. They can also weigh anywhere from 8 ounces (220 grams) to 3 pounds (1.4 kg). The most popular variety is the Hass avocado. It’s often called “alligator pear,” which is very descriptive, as it tends to be pear-shaped and has green, bumpy skin like an alligator. The yellow-green flesh inside the fruit is eaten, but the skin and seed are discarded.
Avocados are very nutritious and contain a wide variety of nutrients, including 20 different vitamins and minerals. Here are some of the most abundant nutrients, in a single 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving:
- Vitamin K: 26% of the daily value (DV)
- Folate: 20% of the DV
- Vitamin C: 17% of the DV
- Potassium: 14% of the DV
- Vitamin B5: 14% of the DV
- Vitamin B6: 13% of the DV
- Vitamin E: 10% of the DV
- It also contains small amounts of magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, zinc, phosphorous and vitamins A, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin) and B3 (niacin).
This is coming with 160 calories, 2 grams of protein and 15 grams of healthy fats. Although it contains 9 grams of carbs, 7 of those are fiber, so there are only 2 “net” carbs, making this a low-carb friendly plant food.
Avocados do not contain any cholesterol or sodium and are low in saturated fat. This is why they are favored by some experts who believe these substances are harmful, which is a debated topic, however.
2. They Contain More Potassium Than Bananas
Potassium is a nutrient that most people don’t get enough of. This nutrient helps maintain electrical gradients in your body’s cells and serves various important functions. Avocados are very high in potassium. A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving packs 14% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA), compared to 10% in bananas, which are a typical high-potassium food. Several studies show that having a high potassium intake is linked to reduced blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure.
3. Avocado Is Loaded With Heart-Healthy Monounsaturated Fatty Acids
Avocado is a high-fat food. In fact, 77% of the calories in it are from fat, making it one of the fattiest plant foods in existence. But they don’t just contain any fat. The majority of the fat in avocado is oleic acid — a monounsaturated fatty acid that is also the major component of olive oil and believed to be responsible for some of its health benefits. Oleic acid has been associated with reduced inflammation and shown to have beneficial effects on genes linked to cancer. The fats in avocado are also rather resistant to heat-induced oxidation, making avocado oil a healthy and safe choice for cooking.
4. Avocados Are Loaded With Fiber
Fiber is another nutrient that avocados are relatively rich in. It’s indigestible plant matter that can contribute to weight loss, reduce blood sugar spikes and is strongly linked to a lower risk of many diseases. A distinction is often made between soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber is known for feeding the friendly gut bacteria in your intestine, which are very important for optimal body function. A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of avocado packs 7 grams of fiber, which is 27% of the RDA. About 25% of the fiber in avocado is soluble, while 75% is insoluble.
5. Eating Avocados Can Lower Cholesterol and Triglyceride Levels
Heart disease is the most common cause of death in the world. It’s known that several blood markers are linked to an increased risk. This includes cholesterol, triglycerides, inflammatory markers, blood pressure and various others. Eight controlled studies in people have examined the effects of avocado on some of these risk factors.
These studies showed that avocados can:
- Reduce total cholesterol levels significantly.
- Reduce blood triglycerides by up to 20%.
- Lower LDL cholesterol by up to 22%.
- Increase HDL (the “good”) cholesterol by up to 11%.
One of the studies found that including avocado in a low-fat, vegetarian diet significantly improved the cholesterol profile. Though their results are impressive, it’s important to note that all of the human studies were small and short-term, including only 13–37 people with a duration of 1–4 weeks.
6. People Who Eat Avocados Tend to Be Healthier
One study looked at the dietary habits and health of people who eat avocados. They analyzed data from 17,567 participants in the NHANES survey in the US. Avocado consumers were found to be much healthier than people who didn’t eat this fruit. They had a much higher nutrient intake and were half as likely to have metabolic syndrome, a cluster of symptoms that are a major risk factor for heart disease and diabetes.
People who ate avocados regularly also weighed less, had a lower BMI and significantly less belly fat. They also had higher levels of “good” HDL cholesterol. However, correlation does not imply causation, and there is no guarantee that the avocados caused these people to be in better health. Therefore, this particular study doesn’t carry much weight.
7. Their Fat Content May Help You Absorb Nutrients From Plant Foods
When it comes to nutrients, your intake is not the only thing that matters. You also need to be able to absorb these nutrients — move them from your digestive tract and to your body, where they can be used. Some nutrients are fat-soluble, meaning that they need to be combined with fat in order to be utilized.
Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat-soluble, along with antioxidants like carotenoids. One study showed that adding avocado or avocado oil to either salad or salsa can increase antioxidant absorption 2.6- to 15-fold.
So, not only is avocado highly nutritious, it can dramatically increase the nutrient value of other plant foods that you are eating. This is an excellent reason to always include a healthy fat source when you eat veggies. Without it, a lot of the beneficial plant nutrients will go to waste.
8. Avocados Are Loaded With Powerful Antioxidants That Can Protect Your Eyes
Not only do avocados increase antioxidant absorption from other foods, they are also high in antioxidants themselves. This includes the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which are incredibly important for eye health.
Studies show that they’re linked to a drastically reduced risk of cataracts and macular degeneration, which are common in older adults. Therefore, eating avocados should benefit your eye health over the long term.
9. Avocado May Help Prevent Cancer
There is limited evidence that avocado may be beneficial in cancer treatment and prevention. Test-tube studies suggest that it may help reduce side effects of chemotherapy in human lymphocytes.
Avocado extract has also been shown to inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells in a laboratory. However, keep in mind that these studies were done in isolated cells and don’t necessarily prove what may happen inside people. Human-based research is unavailable.
10. Avocado Extract May Help Relieve Symptoms of Arthritis
Arthritis is a common problem in Western countries. There are many types of this condition, which are often chronic problems that people have for the rest of their lives. Multiple studies suggest that avocado and soybean oil extracts — called avocado and soybean unsaponifiables — can reduce osteoarthritis. Whether avocados themselves have this effect remains to be seen.
11. Eating Avocado May Help You Lose Weight
There is some evidence that avocados are a weight loss friendly food.
In one study, people eating avocado with a meal felt 23% more satisfied and had a 28% lower desire to eat over the next 5 hours, compared to people who did not consume this fruit. Should this hold true in the long term, then including avocados in your diet may help you naturally eat fewer calories and make it easier for you to stick to healthy eating habits. Avocados are also high in fiber and very low in carbs, two attributes that should help promote weight loss as well, at least in the context of a healthy, real-food-based diet.
12. Avocado Is Delicious and Easy to Incorporate in Your Diet
Avocados are not only healthy, they’re also incredibly delicious and go with many types of food. You can add them to salads and various recipes or simply scoop them out with a spoon and eat them plain. They have a creamy, rich, fatty texture and blend well with other ingredients.
A notable mention is guacamole, which is arguably the most famous use of avocados. It includes avocado along with ingredients like salt, garlic, lime and a few others depending on the recipe. An avocado often takes some time to ripen and should feel slightly soft when ripe. The nutrients in avocado can oxidize and turn brown soon after fleshing it, but adding lemon juice should slow down this process.
The Bottom Line
Avocados are an excellent food, loaded with nutrients, many of which are lacking in the modern diet. They’re weight loss friendly, heart healthy and, last but not least, taste incredible.
Source: Health Line