The top health benefits of avocados are many, given that they contain good fats, fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and . Consuming them regularly may help boost heart health, improve digestion, enhance liver health, and aid in weight management. Avocado also helps keep the eyes healthy due to its high lutein content and protects the skin from signs of aging.
What is Avocado?
Avocados (alligator pears) are pear-shaped fruit with a rich, creamy flavor. “Alligator pears” are a name given mainly due to their shape and the leathery appearance of their skin. Avocados are available in many varieties, but the most popular of all is the creamy Hass variety.
The edible portion of the avocado is the creamy flesh within, which is light-green in color, with a delicious creamy butteriness. The approximate weight of avocados is between eight ounces and three pounds, depending on the variety. 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, similarly to bananas.
It has gained attention in health circles due to its high level of healthy fat and efficacy as a cholesterol reducer. It contains fewer calories when compared to butter and other high-calorie dietary items. Much of its fat content comes from unique sources, like phytosterols, which are beneficial for health. This article discusses the various health benefits of avocado and its nutritional content.
Avocados are considered a “superfood” and are rich in various nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. They are also a good source of healthyfatty acids. According to the California Avocado Commission, a medium-sized California Hass avocado contains almost 22.5 grams of fat. Two-thirds of this fat is of the monounsaturated variety, and they are also very low in fructose. Perhaps most importantly, avocados have a unique collection of organic compounds like phytosterols, carotenoids, and flavonoids.
According to the USDA , avocados contain minerals including calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper, manganese, phosphorus, and zinc. They also have high levels of vitamin A, K, C, E, B6, thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin (vitamins B1, B2, B3, respectively). Furthermore, they are a great source of dietary fiber, and a single serving can provide more than 40 percent of the daily requirement!
According to the USDA, avocado is a good source of calories along with other key nutrients.
- 100 grams of avocado (raw) contains about 160 calories
- 1 cup (150 grams) of avocado (raw) contain 250 calories
Health Benefits of Avocado
Let us look at the most important health benefits of avocados.
May Improve Cardiovascular Health
Avocado improves HDL or good cholesterol levels, which may help protect against heart attack and stroke. A 2018 meta-analysis of reports, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, concluded that eating avocado can significantly increase HDL cholesterol.
Good Source of Potassium
Avocados are a good source of potassium. These significant levels of potassium make avocados a powerful fruit in the fight against potassium-rich foods can reduce pathogenic vascular calcification, which is the hardening of arteries. Eating potassium-rich foods like avocados and bananas reduces the tension of blood vessels and arteries, regulating . This, in turn, may help reduce the risk of clotting, heart attacks, and strokes.. Potassium is one of the minerals that help in maintaining a normal heart rate. According to research published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation,
Avocados can help keep your eyes healthy. They contain carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin, which are known to protect eyes against cataracts, eye diseases related to age, and macular degeneration. These conditions are often caused by free radicals that accumulate in the tissues of the eyes. The antioxidant activity of these special carotenoids in avocados neutralizes the effects of those dangerous free radicals.
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 provides relief from plaque psoriasis. Beta-carotene and lycopene are two organic compounds found in avocados. Both of these have been connected to improving the health and tone of your skin and eliminating signs of premature aging.
Relieves Arthritis Pain
The chemicals contained in avocados appear to be very good at reducing liver damage. These organic compounds help in improving liver health. Liver damage can be caused by several factors, with Hepatitis C being the main one. Findings of a research study published in the journal Pharmacognosy Review suggest that avocados may play a major role in toning up and protecting your liver from a wide variety of conditions.
Vitamin K Deficiency
Vitamin K deficiency is not very common but may be seen in neonatal care. It may lead to a bleeding disorder known as vitamin K deficiency-related bleeding (VKDB). This occurs mostly due to an insufficient intake of vitamin K by the mother during pregnancy.
The inclusion of avocado in the diet of a pregnant woman may help in lowering the risk of VKDB in the newborn child since avocados are one of the rare fruits that have a very high amount of vitamin K (almost 40 percent of the daily requirement in a single serving!)
Avocado also contains antioxidants such as epicatechin, violaxanthin, neochrome, and about a dozen others. Antioxidants neutralize the effects of free radicals, the dangerous by-products of cellular metabolism. Free radicals are responsible for dozens of serious conditions in the body, including diseases, vision problems, premature aging, and cognitive disorders.
Avocados contain many vitamins and minerals that help in maintaining healthy skin. Carotenoids found in avocados are associated with reducing UV-induced inflammation of the skin due to exposure to the sun.
Pure avocado oil helps in protecting the skin against sunburn damage. The high levels of beta-carotene in avocados can be enzymatically split into provitamin A, which has long been connected to protecting the skin from a variety of conditions and the damaging effects of the sun.
Research shows that lutein and zeaxanthin may decrease signs of the aging process by protecting the skin from damage from UV rays and radiation. Consuming avocados and applying pureavocado oil to the skin is also associated with healthy aging due to the antioxidant properties of compounds lutein and zeaxanthin.
As mentioned, avocados contain zeaxanthin and lutein, which are associated with a reduced risk of cartilage defects, which is also one of the symptoms of osteoarthritis. Furthermore, the levels of essential minerals in avocados are significant, including zinc, phosphorus, copper, with trace amounts of calcium and selenium. All of these minerals are connected to lowered risks of osteoporosis and improvements in bone mineral density.
According to a research study published in the Journal of Nutrition by the Ohio State University, the fat in avocado helps the body absorb carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, and converts them to vitamin A. Findings indicate that 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. One research study shows that the consumption of avocado can lead to improved diet quality and nutrient intake, including a lowered risk of metabolic syndrome.
Adding sliced avocado to a mixed salad may further make a healthy meal even better!
Blood Glucose Level
Apart from the fruit, the leaf extracts of avocados also provide health benefits. An animal study conducted on non-diabetic and diabetic rats suggests that the leaf extracts may help in lowering blood glucose levels. The metabolism of starch-based foods into simple sugars (like glucose) can cause spikes and dips that are dangerous for people with diabetes. Fiber helps to slow the breakdown of food into usable sugars, so it is absorbed by the body in a more balanced way.
Another research study explains that avocado seeds can be used for managing diabetes, inflammatory conditions, and hypertension, as well as for improving hypercholesterolemia. These seeds come in the form of organic avocado seed powder and supplements, which can be added to soups, smoothies, and drinks.
Useful for Athletes
Athletes require a lot of energy and must maintain optimal nutrition to fuel their bodies. Avocado, like some other foods, provides vital nutrients and healthy fats to athletes to maintain energy levels and good health. Moreover, they contain phytochemicals that are a natural fuel source for your body.
Improves Cognitive Function
Avocados may help improve the cognitive function in healthy older people by increasing the lutein content in the body. Lutein is a carotenoid found in fruits and vegetables which has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. According to a 2017 study in the journal Nutrients conducted by Tufts University, having a fresh avocado daily increased lutein levels in the brains and eyes of healthy older adults, which, in turn, helped enhance their memory and problem-solving skills.
Side Effects of Avocado
Avocado does not have any known side effects. Consuming too many is not a good idea as they are high in calories and fat. There is also a rare case of anaphylaxis experienced by a 15-year-old boy after eating avocado-containing food, reported in a 2011 case study published in the Allergy, Asthma, and Clinical Immunology journal.
How to Select & Store Avocados?
- Always select fresh, ripe avocados with no dark spots. They will have dark green skin and will be tender to touch.
- Do not refrigerate avocados unless they are ripe. Ripe avocados will stay up to three to four days in the refrigerator.
- You can keep raw avocados on the kitchen counter for three to four days. If you want to hasten the ripening process, you can keep them in a brown paper bag, away from direct sunlight.
- If you want to store an avocado half, it is best to squeeze lemon juice on it to avoid browning.
- To know more about picking an avocado, ripening, and storing it, read our FAQs on How To Ripen An Avocado.
Avocados are usually eaten raw, as a dessert whip, or sliced and in the form of salads seasoned with pepper and salt. We have some easy and delicious recipe for you to try:
- Best Avocado Juice Recipe
- Stir Fry with Avocado & Egg
- Delicious Avocado Chicken Salad Recipe
- Delicious Avocado Smoothie Recipe for Weight Loss
- Best Avocado Toast Recipe for Breakfast
- Avocado Shrimp Salad With Zesty Dressing
- Easy-to-Make Homemade Avocado Salad Recipe
- Delicious Keto Smoothie with avocados
Due to its various health benefits, this fruit is now grown in several countries. It has a thick skin that protects it from pesticides. According to EWG’s analysis of tests by the US Department of Agriculture, avocados showed no detectable pesticides. You may not need to buy organic avocados as it is one of the safest crops in terms of its low exposure to pesticides.
Is avocado a fruit or a vegetable?
Avocado is a fruit. By definition, a fruit is the sweet and fleshy product of a tree or a plant that is edible. However, botanists term it as a single-seeded berry that grows on trees. You can read more on this subject with our comprehensive article on Is Avocado A Fruit Or Vegetable.
Where do avocados come from?
The fruit typically grows on the Persea Americana tree, 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. The plant is usually tall and can grow up to a height of 65 feet.
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.
Avocado trees need tropical or subtropical temperatures to thrive, and so are also found in other parts of the world with such climates, including India and some African countries. The cultivation of avocados is the easiest in theclimate.