And why you should add this diverse fruit to your diet!
It used to be that when we thought about avocados we pictured a bowl full of the mashed fruit laced with red onion, cilantro and lime juice – a/k/a guacamole. But over the last several years this fruit, which is often referred to as an “alligator pear” due to its shape and green choppy rind that resembles the texture of alligator skin, has become quite fashionable in the world of superfoods!
Today, avocados are showing up in salads, sandwiches, smoothies and pasta sauce! They are even appearing as the main ingredient in cookie and brownie recipes!
Health Benefits of Avocados
A National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) found that:
“avocado consumption is associated with improved overall diet quality, nutrient intake and reduced risk of metabolic syndrome.” (Metabolic syndrome is the term used to describe a combination of symptoms and disorders that raise your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, stroke and other health problems.) According to the survey, “avocado consumers had significantly higher intakes of vegetables (p<0.05); fruit, diet quality, total fat, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, dietary fiber, vitamins E, K, magnesium, and potassium (p<0.0001); vitamin K (p=0.0013); and lower intakes of added sugars (p<0.0001).”
Avocados are packed with a number of essential nutrients including Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Folate, and Potassium. They are also loaded with both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber to support digestive health as well as healthy blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Did you know that avocados contain a higher amount of potassium than bananas per serving? It’s true!
A 100-gram serving of bananas contains 358 mg. of potassium, whereas a 100-gram serving of avocado contains 485 mg. of potassium.
There is evidence showing that potassium reduces blood pressure in people with hypertension and studies show that it may also lower the risk of stroke by 24%.
Avocados contain oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid that has been shown to reduce inflammation and possibly reduce the risk of many cancers. The phytochemicals in avocados have been found to inhibit the growth of precancerous cells, and studies have also shown that these same phytochemicals may reduce the effects of chemotherapy treatment.
Avocados are loaded with carotenoid antioxidants which are best absorbed when consumed with fat. Since avocados also have a high-fat content (monounsaturated-the “good” kind!), the antioxidants contained in the fruit are readily absorbed by the body. This being said, pairing avocados with other healthy plant foods helps your body to absorb their nutrients, specifically fat-soluble nutrients such as Vitamins A, D, E, K, beta-carotene, lycopene, and lutein.
A 2005 study found that “adding avocado fruit can significantly enhance carotenoid absorption from salad and salsa.” Why is this important? Research has associated dietary carotenoids with a decreased risk of disease, specifically some cancers and eye disease.
One last reason to get a daily dose of avocado: they are incredibly delicious! Here are a few ideas: