Avocados are an amazing superfood with a rich flavor and an impressive list of health benefits. Here’s why they are so healthy and some seriously good reasons to get more of them into your diet.
There is a wide variety of nutrients in avocado to support better health and, due to their unusual nutritional profile, these nutrients are in a highly usable and absorbable form for your body. Some experts have even described avocado as nature’s most perfect food.
To start with, this big green, great tasting multivitamin source is rich in the prime antioxidants vitamin C and vitamin E. They contain good levels of most of the B vitamins, including thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pyridoxine, pantothenic acid and folate. And avocados are full of the often difficult to obtain vitamin K that helps build strong bones and maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.
The buttery green pulp of the fruit is also a good source of minerals like pottasium, magnesium, phosphorous, manganese, copper and zinc. There is much more to avocados than just vitamins and minerals though. If you’re interested in a more detailed nutritional profile, see the page on avocado nutrients for even more reasons to eat them regularly.
The Anti-Inflammatory Superfood
Avocados are a rich source of anti-inflammatory monounsaturated oleic fatty acids that help balance out the often pro-inflammatory polyunsaturated omega-6 fats so common in modern processed diets. They are also full of phytosterols like beta-sitosterol that help reduce LDL cholesterol levels in our blood and have other powerful inflammation reducing properties.
Diseases of inflammation such as arthritis and osteoporosis often respond well to more phytosterols in the diet. High phytosterol supplements are available and can be useful, but fresh avocado is a much more enjoyable way to get a potent array of anti-inflammatory nutrients. Arthritis sufferers may be able to get the best of both worlds by taking phytosterol supplements with a meal containing avocado for better absorption.
Along with oleic acid and phytosterols, avocados contain the essential omega-3 fat alpha-linolenic acid and rare polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols (PSAs), proven to reduce UV damage and inflammation in our skin (Polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols derived from avacado suppress inflammatory response).
In addition to all of the beneficial fat based nutritional factors listed above, avocados are also a rich source of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory carotenoids like alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxantin, lutein and zeaxanthin. These carotenoids are fat-soluble and having avocado with other carotenoid rich vegetables, like carrots and leafy greens, greatly increases our digestive system’s absorption of their antioxidant nutrients as well.
Put simply, avocado is one of the healthiest things you can put into your next salad. Not only for all of the health benefits already listed, but also to maximize the nutrition of everything else they are eaten with.
Finally, for even more inflammation protection, avocados have the vitamin E and C already mentioned, antioxidant minerals in manganese, selenium and zinc, and flavinoids like epicatachin and epigallocatechin gallate.
You’d be hard pressed to find a better anti-inflammatory food for your body.
Look for fruits with an even skin color and without blemishes or bruises. The popular Hass variety will turn darker as they ripen, but other varieties like Fuerte and Reed do not change color from their usual bright green when ripe.
Gently pressing against the base of the fruit with the flat part of your thumb will tell you how ripe an avocado is. The stem often ripens first so the fatter base is a better indicator of readiness to eat. Your thumb should be able to press in slightly without too much force, but there should still be some firmness to it, like pressing the tip of your nose. If a fruit is too soft it is likely to be overripe and there’s a good chance it will be spoilt.
As a favor to your fellow avocado lovers, please don’t squeeze the fruit in the middle. You’ll only bruise it with ugly brown fingerprints for the unlucky person who buys it. In fact, I’d recommend picking avos from the back or bottom of the pile to avoid getting ‘over-squeezed’ fruit.
If the avocado is not yet ripe there’s a way to speed up the process on the next page. Unless you’re using it immediately, it’s probably better to let them ripen at home rather than risking buying ones that are overripe.
This is one versatile fruit and there are many great ways to eat them. Some of my favorites coming up include a superfood avocado omelette recipe for a very healthy breakfast; wild salmon, pumpkin seed and avocado salad for lunch or dinner and an avocado and kale smoothie as a powerful pick me up.
I hope this page inspires more people to start eating amazing avocados. They really are an incredibly healthy and nutritious food to add to your diet. There’s much more on avocado health benefits ahead, but first a look at how to ripen them fast and staggering the rate at which they ripen so you can always have this great tasting superfood ready to eat.
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