From trending on social media to having its own celebration day (July 31st), avocado is a superfruit that has gained mass popularity over the past years. As it turns out, aside from being tasty and looking great on social media feeds, there are plenty of health benefits to eating avocados. Here are 10 reasons why avocados are good for your health:
1. Avocados are rich in different nutrients
Avocados are high in fiber, good fats, and amino acids, as well as low in carbohydrates and calories. Besides these more commonly known macronutrients, avocados are also loaded with micronutrients like vitamins A, C, E, K and B6, along with potassium, magnesium, niacin and folate — all are required in our daily food consumption for optimum body functioning. Other than its rich fiber and healthy fats, avocados also contain many of the necessary amino acids that are crucial to the protein-building process in our body.
2. Avocados can help with absorption of other nutrients
Having a good absorption mechanism for nutrients is just as important as having a good intake of nutrients. As some nutrients such as vitamins A, D, E and K are fat-soluble, they are more likely to be absorbed more efficiently when consumed alongside fat-containing foods. With such high levels of good fats, avocados are able to enhance the solubility of fat-soluble nutrients in our digestive system, hence maximizing our uptake of nutrients in our daily food consumption.
A study conducted in 2005 revealed that adding avocado or avocado oil to salad or salsa can enhance the absorption of carotenoid (a fat-soluble antioxidant) from vegetables and fruits (such as carrots and kales) by up to 15 times.
3. Avocados are good for the heart
Avocados are one of the highest fat-containing fruits, but don’t let that alarm you; they contain a great source of monounsaturated fatty acids. Monounsaturated fatty acids help reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol i.e. “bad” cholesterol that can accumulate as plaque in the inner wall of the blood vessels and result in high blood pressure and increased risks for heart diseases. Avocados also help increase “good” high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, which is responsible for preventing the buildup of plaque in the blood vessels, thus reducing the chances of heart attacks and strokes.
According to a research article published by the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, avocados also contain a natural plant sterol named beta-sitosterol, which is effective in decreasing cholesterol in the intestine, thus lowering blood cholesterol levels.
4. Avocados are good for the brain
Avocados are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. They are a great alternative for those looking to increase intake of omega-3 without eating too much fish or fish oil supplements. Omega-3s in avocados act as building blocks for the formation of brain cells, enhancing communication between neurotransmitters and hence regulation of memory functions and management of mood fluctuations. Research found that omega-3 can delay the development of Alzheimer's disease and other age-related mental declines.
5. Avocados are high in fiber
Very few foods have as good a proportion of fiber to fat to carbohydrates as avocados. Avocados provide a great amount of soluble and insoluble fibre, in which the latter, being indigestible, helps with detoxifying the body by aiding regular bowel movements to remove toxins. Whereas a randomized controlled trial conducted by The Journal of Nutrition of Oxford Academic showed that soluble fiber in avocados nourishes the beneficial gut bacteria to promote a diverse gut microbiota, in turn boosting the immune system.
6. Avocados can help with weight loss
If you want to better manage your body weight, incorporating avocados in your meals could keep you on track towards your goal. Because avocados are packed with healthy fats that give you a satiety feeling for an extended period of time, it is effective in suppressing your appetite and minimizing the overall calorie intake. Avocados can also be an ideal substitute for high fat or high carbs foods to fill your stomach with even more nutrients.
7. Avocados are good for eye health
As a comparative study by the US Department of Agriculture points out, the antioxidants carotenoids in avocados, e.g. lutein and zeaxanthin, can protect the eyes from oxidative damage (caused by the accumulation of free radicals generated from within the body or from external sources including ultraviolet light). Not only is avocado high in antioxidants on its own, being high in healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, it also facilitates the absorption of fat-soluble antioxidants, i.e. beta-carotene from other foods, consequently reducing risk of age-related eye diseases that can lead to blindness, for example cataracts and macular degeneration.
8. Avocados can boost your mood
Avocados can improve your mood because they are rich in tryptophan, folic acid and omega-3. Both tryptophan and folic acid can significantly boost serotonin levels in the brain and bring about the feeling of happiness. Folic acid can also prevent the accumulation of homocysteine in the body that affects sleep, mood and appetite by blocking the production of serotonin and dopamine. In addition, omega-3 is an essential fatty acid in the human body, especially for its role in anti-cerebral inflammation and regulating neurotransmitters in the brain.
9. Avocados are high in folate
Half an avocado can already provide 20% of the daily recommended dietary intake of folate, a type of vitamin B responsible for brain function. Adequate intake of folate is particularly important for women of childbearing age. Many women do not realize their pregnancy until after 3-4 months; nonetheless, the baby's brain and spinal cord are developed during the first trimester of pregnancy. Inadequate intake of folate of the pregnant mother may increase the risk of miscarriage and birth defects, such as neural tube defects (a condition in which the baby’s spine is grown outside of the body).
10. Avocados are so versatile
Given that avocados are so beneficial to our health, you may want to eat some every day (or almost). The good news is, avocados are incredibly versatile and can be incorporated into our diets in an almost infinite number of ways. Due to their more mellow flavors and rich texture, avocados are great in salads, smoothies, sandwiches, dressings and can even be incorporated into puddings, cakes and ice creams. Avocado oil is also commonly used as a cooking oil substitute. There is so much variety when it comes to avocado and because of its popularity, you can find many recipes online simply one click away.
Avocados seem to have endless possibilities. Do you like avocados? Planning to eat more and incorporate them into your everyday diet? We hope you enjoyed discovering these facts about this unique superfruit!
This article was independently written by Healthy Matters and is not sponsored. It is informative only and not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be relied upon for specific medical advice.