Why are Avocados Healthy? 8 Nutritional Properties and Beneficial Effects of this Superfood
The avocado is a uniquely nutritious fruit and one well worth eating regularly.
They have an unusually high fat content, though being primarily heart protective monounsaturated fatty acids this is a definite plus for your health.
These fruit are also rich in dietary fiber, have many anti-inflammatory compounds, are a good source of eye protecting antioxidants and cover a number of important nutritional bases.
In fact, avocados are so good for you, they’ve been described by dietary experts as one of the few foods you could live on alone if you really had to.
Let’s have a look at 8 reasons why this superfood is so healthy, the different parts of your body its nutrition benefits and why you should enjoy them in your diet more often.
1. High Fiber Content
Despite their creamy texture and taste, avocados are a great source of fiber, with around 16 grams per cup. That’s 7% dietary fiber by weight on average, which is higher than just about any other fruit.
Of this, approximately three quarters is insoluble fiber and one quarter soluble fiber. Both forms are very beneficial for digestive health and elimination, preventing weight gain and guarding against heart disease, diabetes and other serious disorders.
Dietary guidelines recommend at least 38 grams of fiber a day for men and 25 grams of fiber for women. Unfortunately most Americans are lucky to get 15 grams daily on average.
The 16 grams of fiber in avocados by cup is almost half that recommended for men and well over half a woman’s suggested daily intake. You’d be hard pressed to find a more satisfying way to get your fiber than eating an avo each day.
This high fiber content is one of the many reasons why they can help you lose weight, despite their calories. See the page on Is Avocado Fattening to find out more reasons why this fruit so good for weight loss.
2. Anti-Inflammatory Monounsaturated Fats and Phytosterols
A ripe avocado is a rich source of inflammation reducing monounsaturated fatty acids. These good fats help balance out the pro-inflammatory polyunsaturated omega-6 and saturated fats so common in modern processed diets.
They are also full of phytosterols like beta-sitosterol, stigmasterol and campesterol that can reduce bad LDL cholesterol levels in your blood and have other powerful inflammation reducing properties.
A wide range of inflammatory diseases, such as atherosclerosis, colitis, gout, arthritis and osteoporosis, have been shown in medical studies to respond well to more phytosterols in the diet.
Hass avocados were recently tested at 76 mg of beta-sitosterol per 100 g, though their cold-pressed oil, like this one I use in my kitchen, is an even more concentrated source.
Along with monounsaturated fats and phytosterols, this special fruit also contain the essential omega-3 fat alpha-linolenic acid and rare polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols (PSAs), proven to reduce UV damage and inflammation in your skin.
It would be difficult to find a better all round anti-inflammatory food to enjoy regularly in your diet than delicious avocados.
3. Vitamin K for Blood and Bones
Avocado benefits also include high vitamin K content and 1 cup of the bright green pulp can provide more than a third of your recommended intake of this vital nutrient.
Vitamin K is involved in calcium metabolism, blood clotting, building healthy bones and many other important functions in your body. It can be a hard to get in modern diets with studies showing many people are deficient in it.
4. Vitamin E for Your Heart and Skin
Vitamin E has strong antioxidant properties that protect your cells from free radical damage and boost your immune system.
It is particularly beneficial for helping to prevent the oxidation of fats like cholesterol that can accumulate in arteries, leading to atherosclerosis, heart disease and strokes.
Good levels of vitamin E in the diet can also improve your skin’s appearance by helping it to retain more moisture and protecting it from the oxidative damage that causes wrinkles and skin aging.
Avocado contains around 3 mg per cup of vitamin E, which is considered 15% of your suggested daily intake. Healthy skin pumpkin seeds, almonds and testosterone boosting Brazil nuts are other good sources of this vitamin.
5. Vitamin C for Immunity
Vitamin C is a another potent antioxidant that enhances your immune system and body’s ability to heal itself. It also improves circulation, protects against cardiovascular disease and is needed to build collagen for firm skin.
One cup of avocado will provide approximately 15 mg of vitamin C, which is a quarter of your recommended daily intake of this water soluble nutrient.
Like many RDIs though, this amount is often considered by nutritionists to be far too low. It can be helpful to get more immunity boosting vitamin C from a concentrated natural source like amla powder and take it several times a day.
6. High in B Vitamins for Energy and Stress Relief
Avocados are a good source of most of the B vitamins for regulating cellular energy, reducing stress and enhancing brain function.
They are highest in folate, with 100 grams listed as providing 118 mcg, that’s around a third of the RDI for this B vitamin, particularly important for women during pregnancy.
They also have vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) at approximately 1.5 mg per 100 grams, and 15% of the RDI. Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) at around 12% of the recommended daily intake. As well as the vitamins B2 (riboflavin) and B3 (niacin) at useful levels.
7. More Potassium Than Bananas
Nutritional databases list 975 milligrams of potassium in a regular sized avocado. By comparison, a large banana, often praised as a high potassium food, only has half that amount at 487 milligrams.
This mineral regulates high blood pressure, is beneficial for your heart and kidneys and reduces stress and anxiety. It’s also needed for muscle strength and endurance when exercising.
Given this, avocados appear to be the far better fruit to eat before playing sports or going to gym than bananas.
8. Rich in Antioxidants for Better Vision
The eye antioxidants zeaxanthin and lutein are found in particularly concentrated levels in avocado fruit.
These nutrients help protect the macular region of your eye, involved in perceiving fine details like the words on this screen, from damaging UV and high-intensity blue light.
A diet high in lutein and zeaxanthin has been shown to protect you from developing cataracts or age related macular degeneration and really helps with preventing strained eyes if you work in front of a computer all day.
Avocados also have a wide range of other antioxidant carotenoids, including alpha carotene and beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin and the rarer neoxanthin, violaxanthin, neochrome and chrysanthemaxanthin.
These carotenoids, along with beneficial chlorophyll, are found at the highest concentrations close to fruit’s skin, so be sure to get your spoon right in there to eat the greenest parts.
All of these antioxidants are fat-soluble and eating avocado with other vegetables, like carrots and leafy greens, greatly increases your digestive system’s absorption of their nutrients as well.
Enjoy Eating Avocados
Did you know that avocados had so much dietary fiber, vitamins like K, E, C and B vitamins and minerals like potassium? And that their beneficial monounsaturated fats could protect your body from inflammation, keep your eyes healthy and were so good for you in general?
I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the many nutritional benefits of avocado and just how you like to eat them in the comments below.
For an even more concentrated source of their protective phytosterols, healthy fatty acids, antioxidant vitamin E and other nutrients, consider changing to avocado oil for healthy cooking in your kitchen.
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