What is Avocado? and its Benefits - Impressive Health Benefits of Avocado
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.
The health benefits of avocado include weight management, protection from heart diseases and diabetes, treating osteoarthritis, and enhancing the absorption of nutrients for the body. It also reduces the risk of cancer, liver damage, and vitamin K deficiency-related bleeding.
Avocado health benefits includes acting as aphrodisiac, helps in treating arthritis, helps with diabetes management, promotes skin health, promotes weight loss, a rich source of fiber, can help improve cholesterol profile, bolster absorption of plant based nutrients, support eye health, contain essential folic acid, and help promote liver function.
What is Avocado?
Avocado has a high fatty acid content but contains extremely low levels of cholesterol. Many people tend to stop eating avocado due to its high-calorie content, thinking that it may add to their weight. However, it contains fewer calories when compared to butter and other high-calorie dietary items.
There is seemingly no end to the long list of health benefits avocado is capable of delivering, making it truly one of the best fruits on the planet. Yes, the versatile avocado is a fruit, being one of the very care fatty fruits found on the planet. From its utility in numerous recipes, to its creamy and delicious taste, everyone can benefit from increasing their consumption of avocado.
Did you know that the word Avocado actually originated from the Nahuatl language spoken by the Aztecs and meant testicle?
Avocados are also known as Alligator Pears, which is mainly due to their shape and the leathery appearance of their skin. The fruit that is grown on Persea Americana, which is an evergreen tree from the Lauraceae family. Although it doesn’t resemble these relatives, avocados are closely related to cinnamon and bay laurel. It is usually tall and can grow up to a height of 65 feet. The approximate weight of avocados is between eight ounces and three pounds, depending on the variety of avocado. It is harvested early and then allowed to ripen gradually when it is sold commercially. This is why avocados are called climacteric fruits, which only ripen after harvesting, just like bananas.
Avocados are available in many varieties, but the most popular of all is the creamy Hass variety. Avocado trees grow well in tropical, sub-tropical and equatorial areas, but like so many other fruits, the cultivation of avocados is the easiest in the Mediterranean climate. That being said, avocados originated in the state of Puebla, Mexico, where evidence in caves dates back to at least 10,000 B.C. Ancient Central American and South American cultures were known to use wild avocados, but it is unclear if cultivation began until the last few thousand years. It only appeared in other parts of the world in the last 500 years but has quickly gained popularity for its unique appearance, taste, and health benefits.
The most popular use of avocados is in the form of guacamole, a traditional Mexican and Central American dip that is also good as a topping on hamburgers and sandwiches. Also, you may use avocado as a replacement for fat content (butter or oil) while baking or just as a replacement for mayonnaise in sandwiches. Here, you add the same amount of avocado as any other fat. This is a way to reduce your intake of unhealthy calories. For instance, 3.5oz avocados contain 14.66g fat, whereas the same amount of butter contains 81g fat. Therefore, avocados can be substituted for butter while baking, so you can cut down on the calories and still have a delicious treat!
Benefits of avocado
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.
- Aids in Digestion
It is believed that avocados are soothing for the intestine and therefore aid in digestion. They contain soluble and insoluble fibers that help to keep the digestive system running smoothly. These types of fiber are very important for digestion because they bulk up stools and help ensure the smooth passage of food through the intestinal tract. Furthermore, they stimulate gastric and digestive juices so nutrients are absorbed in the most efficient and rapid way. Finally, they reduce the symptoms from conditions like constipation and diarrhea. All in all, the huge amount of fiber found in avocados (40% of daily requirement per serving) makes this a very important food for optimizing your digestive health.
- Dental Care
Consumption of avocados also helps in preventing bad breath, which is primarily caused due to indigestion or an upset stomach. Halitosis can be eliminated by improving digestive health, and the antibacterial and antioxidant flavonoids found in avocados also kill the bacteria in your mouth that can result in bad breath. Avocados have also been connected with preventing oral cancers!
- 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
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.
Avocado Can Function As Aphrodisiacs
Yes, as was briefly mentioned above, the word avocado originated from the Aztec people and meant testicle. The reason behind this? Avocados were believed to be strong aphrodisiacs. Even though they are not true aphrodisiacs in the sense of the word, they were definitely on to something. Avocados are rich in saturated fat, which is important in the synthesis of testosterone. It is no coincidence that modern diets that seek to actively restrict fat intake coincide with lowest testosterone levels, and with it, low sex drive. So indirectly, avocados are indeed aphrodisiacs.
Hold Promise In Treating Arthritis
Chronic osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are both debilitating diseases that cause extreme discomfort to individuals that suffer from them. Though over the counter pain medication can offer short term relief from symptoms, they can hardly be considered a permanent solution. Enter the ever willing avocado, in whom a compound was found that could help offer relief from pain and inflammation of arthritic conditions. Though it is unclear how much you need to consume to see these effects, having an avocado per day could also support your efforts to relieve pain, as fat can help to cushion the tissue between joints.
Skin and Hair Care
Avocados are packed with nutrients that are beneficial for maintaining healthy skin. It enriches skin that is dry, chapped or damaged. They are added to a variety of cosmetics due to their ability to nourish the skin with essential vitamins and make it glow. It is also used for nourishing dry and damaged hair. Many people use avocados to prepare skin and hair masks. Above all, avocado oil helps in treating plaque psoriasis. Beta-carotene and lycopene are two organic compounds found in large quantities in avocados. Both of these have been connected to improving the health and tone of your skin and eliminating signs of premature aging.
Avocados are very good at reducing liver damage. It has certain organic compounds that help in improving liver health.  Liver damage is normally caused due to Hepatitis C. Findings of a recent research study suggest that avocados may play a major role in toning up and protecting your liver from a wide variety of conditions.
Avocados Can Help You Lose Weight
We all can probably do with a little bit of weight loss, so every single thing helps. When it comes to fat, many people are scared, and misinformed. Fats will not necessarily cause you to gain weight, even though they yield more calories per gram when compared with the other macronutrients. Avocados, however, can help reduce your appetite and suppresses your overall caloric intake over the course of the day. Plus, when included in meals, you are likely to be satisfied for a far long time, opposed to having a meal without ample fat.
Great for vision
Avocados contain lutein and zeaxanthin, two phytochemicals that are especially concentrated in the tissues in the eyes where they provide antioxidant protection to help minimize damage, including from ultraviolet light.
As the monounsaturated fatty acids in avocados also support the absorption of other beneficial fat-soluble antioxidants, such as beta-carotene, adding avocados to your diet may help to reduce the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration.
Half of an avocado provides approximately 25 percent of the daily recommended intake of vitamin K.
This nutrient is often overlooked, but is essential for bone health.
Vitamin K is often overshadowed by calcium and vitamin D when thinking of nutrients important for maintaining healthy bones, however, eating a diet with adequate vitamin K can support bone health by increasing calcium absorption and reducing urinary excretion of calcium.
Adequate intake of folate from food has shown promise in protecting against colon, stomach, pancreatic, and cervical cancers.
Although the mechanism behind this apparent reduction in risk is currently unknown, researchers believe that folate protects against undesirable mutations in DNA and RNA during cell division.
Avocados may even have a role to play in cancer treatment, with some research finding that phytochemicals extracted from avocado can selectively inhibit the growth of precancerous and cancerous cells and cause the death of cancer cells, while encouraging the proliferation of immune system cells called lymphocytes.
These phytochemicals have also been shown to decrease chromosomal damage caused by cyclophosphamide, a chemotherapy drug.
Avocados Are Fiber Rich
Many people fail to get enough fiber in their diets today, for one reason or another. Frequently, it occurs as a result of eating too many processed foods, and not consuming enough whole foods. If you dislike vegetables, there is still hope. Avocados contain both of the essential fiber; soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber plays an important role in supporting the microbiome of our gut, while insoluble fiber helps support regularity. Both have important roles to play, so it is important that you get both every day.
Diet plays a very important role in maintaining the balance of minerals and fluids in those who suffer from chronic kidney disorders. Potassium is one of the minerals that help in maintaining a normal heart rate.  Avocados are a good source of potassium and their inclusion in your diet may provide other benefits as well. It is important to make sure that potassium levels are not too high as that can also be dangerous for the heart. Potassium is a key aspect of maintaining fluid balance through chemical channels for cells and organs. This balance of fluid is also vital for the functioning of the kidney, which handles the movement of fluid and toxins through the body.
During pregnancy, morning sickness is very common. Avocados help overcome nausea and queasiness during pregnancy since it contains vitamin B6, which is commonly connected to reducing nausea and vomiting.
Consuming avocados is also associated with healthy aging. It contains compounds such as xanthophyll, which has antioxidant properties. Research studies suggest that an intake of xanthophyll may decrease signs of the aging process on various parts of your body.
Folate is extremely important for a healthy pregnancy.
Adequate intake reduces the risk of miscarriage and neural tube defects.
Recent research from McGill University found a 30 percent higher incidence of a variety of birth defects in baby mice conceived using sperm from mice with a folate deficiency compared with mice conceived using sperm from mice with adequate folate levels.
Lower risk of depression
Foods containing high levels of folate may help to decrease the risk of depression because folate helps to prevent the build-up of homocysteine, a substance that can impair circulation and delivery of nutrients to the brain.
Excess homocysteine can also interfere with the production of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which regulate mood, sleep, and appetite.
Despite its creamy texture, an avocado is actually high in fiber with approximately 6-7 grams per half fruit.
Eating foods with natural fiber can help prevent constipation, maintain a healthy digestive tract, and lower the risk of colon cancer.
Protection from chronic disease
According to the Department of Internal Medicine and Nutritional Sciences Program of the University of Kentucky, high fiber intakes are associated with significantly lower risks of developing coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and certain gastrointestinal diseases. Increased fiber intake has also been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, improve insulin sensitivity, and enhance weight loss for obese individuals.
Avocados are best eaten along with other fruits and vegetables. This is due to the fact that nutrients present in fruits and vegetables get enhanced when eaten along with avocados. The absorption of carotenoid antioxidant molecules, which helps protect the body against free radical damage, increases three to five times when a salad is eaten along with avocado. Therefore, adding sliced avocado to a mixed salad is a good way to make a healthy meal even better. This makes avocado a great element as an appetizer since it prepares the digestive tract to function at its highest level during the meal to come!
Blood Glucose Level
Apart from the fruit, the leaf extracts of avocados also provide health benefits. A study conducted on non-diabetic and diabetic rats suggest that the leaf extracts may help in lowering blood glucose levels. For diabetic patients, the metabolism of starch-based foods into simple sugars like glucose can cause the spikes and plunges that are dangerous for diabetics. Fiber helps to slow the breakdown of food into usable sugars, so it is absorbed by the body in a more balanced way. Furthermore, the majority of carbohydrates in avocados are made up of 7-carbon sugars, a relatively rare form of sugar that actually inhibit the enzyme hexokinase. This helps avocados control the way that glucose is metabolized by the body, thereby protecting the overall health of diabetic patients.
Promote Healthy Liver Function
The liver is one of your most important organs. Even though it is self-regenerating, that does not mean that you can take it for granted. The best way to support your hard working liver is to help it function optimally. Avocados can help reduce symptoms of fatty liver disease that are caused by elevated cholesterol and blood triglycerides as well. In addition, avocados can boost synthesis of the body’s most powerful anti-oxidant glutathione to help safeguard you from free radicals.
Promote Healing of Wounds
Avocados can help speed up the healing of wounds, by modulating immune system activity. Ensuring that recruitment occurs in a timely fashion helps overall healing by cutting down recovery time.
Avocados Can Prevent Bad Breath
Avocados contain flavonoids which combat bacterial and fungal overgrowth in the mouth, effectively reducing the likelihood of halitosis occurring. In that same vein, they can also help prevent festering of mouth ulcers.
Side Effects of Avocado
The side effects of consuming too much of avocado include:
- Sensitivity to light
Care must be taken and consumption of avocado should be avoided if these symptoms are experienced.
How to Select and Store Avocado?
Fresh, ripe avocados with no dark spots should be chosen. Do not refrigerate avocados unless they are ripe. If a portion of the fruit has been used then the remainder may be stored in the refrigerator for future use. Unripe avocados can be stored at room temperature.
Quick Serving Ideas
- Salad: Mix chopped onion, tomato, lettuce and avocado in a bowl. Add salt, pepper, lime juice, and drizzle olive oil over the salad. You may add other vegetables or meat to the salad as well.
- Soup: Garnish soups with chopped avocado for additional flavor and health benefits.
- Fruit: Ripe avocados can be consumed directly.
- Dressing: Avocados can be used for dressing food preparations of your choice.