Avocados have numerous health benefits. Importantly, they lower the cardiometabolic risk factors and are extremely good for the heart. They have lots of antioxidants, unsaturated fatty acids, and fibers which exert most of their good effects on the body.
Avocado fruit is popular because of its rich and creamy texture. Its scientific name is Persea Americana and it is from the Lauraceae family, which also includes cinnamon and laurel. Avocados are available in many colors, sizes, and textures.
All are tropical plants with flesh that melts to a buttery feel, making them popular in anything from desserts to dips. This ‘calorie dense‘ fruit can actually help you lose weight particularly because avocados are high in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), which decrease blood pressure and help to lubricate joints without adding calories.
Avocados are rich in MUFA
Avocados are one of the most nutritious fruits known to man, containing over 20 minerals and vitamins. In fact, the fruit has been called “The Olive Oil of The Americas” due to its strong nutritional profile. Here we will discuss some health benefits of avocado that you might not be aware of.
Nutritional value of Avocados:
The nutritional composition of 100 g of Avocados according to USDA. [Ref]
|Saturated fatty acids
Antioxidants found in Avocados
Avocados are rich in unsaturated fatty acids but they also contain numerous other beneficial antioxidants. Some of these include:
- Avocados contain high amounts of xanthophylls, lutein, β-cryptoxanthin, and zeaxanthin. Many studies suggested that avocados contain the highest amounts of carotenoids among all fruits and vegetables.
- These are plant analogs of cholesterols. There are three main types of phytosterols beta-sitosterol, campesterol, and stigmasterol. Avocados contain the highest amount of beta-sitosterols
- Avocados contain phenolic compounds which exhibit high antioxidant activity. Gallic acid is the most abundant in avocados.
Health Benefits of Avocados
Avocados are highly beneficial for human health. Some of their health benefits include:
Benefits of Avocados for the heart
- Avocados are heart-healthy fruits as they are rich in unsaturated fatty acids and plant sterols. There is 76 mg of beta-sitosterol, a natural plant sterol, in every 100 g of avocado.
- Consuming beta-sitosterol and other plant sterols on a regular basis may aid in the maintenance of good cholesterol levels, which are essential for heart health.
- Avocados are abundant in fat, and 60% of it is monounsaturated fat, which may help to prevent heart disease and reduce blood pressure. They’re also high in potassium, folate, and dietary fibers all of which are good for the heart and circulatory system.
Avocados have lots of fats and fibers
- One study suggests that consuming one avocado a day affects LDL-C, LDL-P, and non-HDL-C concentrations. Avocados have a favorable impact on cardiometabolic risk factors. [Ref]
- Another study suggests that avocados have unique nutrients that help in reducing the levels of LDL. They reduce LDL oxidation and decrease LDL atherogenicity. Avocado consumption is associated with decreased risk of cardiovascular disorders. [Ref]
Health benefits of Avocados for Cancer:
- Avocados exhibit anti-cancer and tumor-suppressing properties studies suggest that in pre-cancerous and cancer cell lines, phytochemicals derived from the avocado fruit effectively induce cell cycle arrest, limit proliferation, and trigger apoptosis.
- One study suggests that phytochemicals found in avocados directly inhibit the cell cycle and prevent cell proliferation in human breast cancer cell lines.[Ref]
Avocados prevent cellular proliferation and trigger apoptosis
- Another study found that carotenoids found in avocados, particularly lutein have preventive effects against prostate cancer and they have been shown to inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cell lines. [Ref]
- Recent studies indicate that phytochemical extracts from avocado fruit enhance the proliferation of lymphocytes and reduce the incidence of chromosomal abnormalities. They have also shown chemo-preventive properties. [Ref]
Health benefits of Avocados: Cholesterol-lowering properties
- Avocados contain healthy fats. They increase HDL levels and decrease the levels of LDL and triglycerides these properties make them beneficial in managing excessive cholesterol levels in hypercholesterolemic patients.
- In one study 30 hypercholesterolemic participants who received avocado enriched diet were assessed. Their total serum cholesterol concentrations were measured before and after the diet.
- Results showed a significant decrease in total serum cholesterol in subjects who received an avocado enriched diet. The study suggested that avocado consumption me help in maintaining lipid profiles in hypercholesterolemic patients. [Ref]
Effect of Avocados on body weight:
- Avocados are high in calories and fat, that’s why some people think they may cause weight gain. But the high amounts of dietary fiber present in avocados help in maintaining satiety which actually helps maintain healthy body weight. However, high intakes may cause weight gain.
How do Avocados Improve cognitive function in elders?
- Avocados may assist the elderly to improve their cognitive function by boosting the amount of lutein in their bodies. Lutein is a carotenoid present in fruits and vegetables that has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
- According to a study in 2017, eating a fresh avocado every day enhanced lutein levels in the brains and eyes of healthy older adults, which improved their memory and problem-solving abilities. [Ref]
Health benefits of Avocados: Protect DNA Damage
- Avocados may play a role in protecting the DNA because several studies suggest that Xanthophylls, related to those found in avocados, have antioxidant and DNA-protective properties, as well as potential anti-aging properties.
- One study consisted of 82 male airline pilots and regular flyers who were exposed to high levels of cosmic ionizing radiation, which has been shown to damage DNA and speed up the aging process.
- The intake of beta-carotene, -cryptoxanthin, and lutein-zeaxanthin (found in avocados) had a significant and negative relationship with the frequency of chromosome translocation. [Ref]
Avocados Role in Osteoarthritis
- Osteoarthritis is basically the deterioration of joints or cartilage. Avocados may help to treat osteoarthritis.
- One study suggests that Avocado and Soy Unsaponifiables (ASU) which is a mixture of fat-soluble extracts in a ratio of 1:2 (one avocado two soy).
- These have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. In vitro experiments demonstrated that it reduces the levels of inflammatory cytokines. And may also help in repairing cartilage through osteoblast activity. [Ref]
Health benefits of Avocados: Effect on Eyes
- Avocados, that contain a combination of MUFA and lutein/zeaxanthin and assist increase carotenoid absorption from other fruits and vegetables, may benefit eye health.
- Lutein and zeaxanthin are taken up by the macula of the eye (the portion of the eye where light is focused).
- Relative lutein and zeaxanthin intakes decline with age, and females have lower levels than males.
- Studies suggest that Low food consumption and plasma concentrations of lutein have been linked to age-related ocular impairment and MUFA-rich dies are found to be protective of age-related ocular impairment. [Ref]
Healthy avocado recipes:
Some of the healthy and easy avocado recipes include:
- Avocado and kale smoothie
- Avocado and chickpea salad
- Avocado and egg toast
- Avocado, tomato, and chicken sandwich
- Avocado and peach milkshake