7 Surprising Health Benefits Of Avocados

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Surprising Health Benefits Of Avocados

Avocados protect the heart with their fiber, oleic acid, and potassium. Eaten with healthy fats, they can lower the bad LDL levels by 13.5 mg/dl and aid in weight loss. Toss them with colorful veggie salads to get more eye-protective antioxidants. As avocados fight inflammation, they can be added to diets for atherosclerosis, early-stage Alzheimer's, arthritis, and cancer. Eat 50 g avocado flesh a day, scraped close to the peel.

The avocado has fast become a main player on menus frequented by the health-conscious. So what makes this gorgeously green fruit such a hit? Well, it’s not only packed with fiber and antioxidants but also anti-inflammatory oleic acid and heart-healthy minerals like potassium1 – and that’s just the beginning of the long list of benefits of avocados.

1. Is Good For Your Heart

There are multiple nutrients in avocados that make them the one fruit for your heart.

Avocado fiber reduces blood pressure, balances the cholesterol levels, and improves the body’s sensitivity to insulin. Every 100 g of the fruit contains 6.7 g fiber.2 3

Avocados are a high-calorie and high-fat fruit. But most of the carbs are in the form of heart-healthy fiber, and the fats are not just healthy but essential too.

Oleic acid, a monounsatured fatty acid (MUFA) in avocados and olive oil, help the heart by making the body more sensitive to insulin and using glucose properly. It also arrests the progress of atherosclerosis in blood vessels – atherosclerosis is a dangerous condition where the blood vessels are clogged by fat deposits which hinder blood flow.4

Avocados have more potassium than sodium, which is good news for the heart since potassium lowers blood pressure, while sodium raises it. Every 100 g avocado has 485 mg potassium and 7 mg sodium. Potassium is also important for normal heart function as it aids skeletal and smooth muscle contraction.5 Having more potassium can actually help patients of high blood pressure and lower the risk of strokes by 24%.6

2. Is Good For Those With High Cholesterol

High cholesterol is a dangerous condition that raises your risk for several diseases, including heart attacks. But not all cholesterol is bad. While LDL cholesterol is harmful, HDL chiolesterol is actually good for your health. It also helps remove the extra LDLs. People with high cholesterol also have a fat called triglycerides, too much of which is also a red flag.

Don’t skimp on fat. Eat heart-healthy fats like tuna and almonds and add half an avocado to the meal.

Though a fatty fruit, avocados can raise the HDL levels and reduce the LDLs and triglycerides in people who have abnormal lipid profiles – that is cholesterol and triglyceride counts.7 In fact, one small study on overweight and obese participants (overweight is often a sign of abnormal lipid levels) found that

  • a moderate-fat diet with avocados lowered LDL cholesterol by 13.5 mg/dl
  • a moderate-fat diet without avocados lowered LDL cholesterol by 8.3 mg/dl
  • a low-fat diet that didn’t consist of avocados lowered LDL cholesterol by 7.4 mg/dl8

What this shows is that not only should you have heart-healthy fats, like in fish, you should also add avocado to your daily diet.[/ref]

3. Reduces Inflammation In The Body

A study found that when participants ate 68 g avocado with a hamburger, there was less inflammation than when they ate the hamburger alone.9 It may even help patients in the early stages of Alzheimer’s by reducing inflammation-related damage caused by beta-amyloid peptides, the culprit responsible for the nerve-degenerating condition.10

These anti-inflammatory benefits can be attributed to oleic acid and antioxidants like carotenoids, polyphenols, and tocopherols. One Japanese study found that levels of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (CRP), an inflammatory marker in the body, was inversely related to oleic acid intake.11 Even in patients of Alzheimer’s disease, oleic acid can also reduce

4. Prevents Arthritis And Reduces Pain

The anti-inflammatory benefits of avocados extend to patients of osteoarthritis too. Osteoarthritis is a painful inflammatory condition in the joints. The Arthritis Foundation suggests eating avocados if you have osteoarthritis as the oleic acid, the carotenoid lutein, and vitamin E – all which have anti-inflammatory effects – can help alleviate symptoms. As the foundation explains, a diet high in these nutrients has been associated with lower risk of joint damage characteristic of early-stage osteoarthritis.12

Avocado-soybean unsaponifiables (ASU) can reduce inflammation and pain effectively and check further degeneration of cartilage.

In one study, avocado-soybean extract was found to be effective when treating patients with symptomatic hip osteoarthritis.13 This all-natural extract known as avocado-soybean unsaponifiables (ASU) is made by combining 1 part of avocado oil with 2 parts of soybean oil. It helps block inflammation, reduces degeneration of cells that line your joints, and could even regenerate normal connective tissue. It also helps reduce pain better than painkillers.14

5. Protects Your Eyes

Add avocado or avocado oil to your colorful salads to absorb the eye-protective carotenoids better.

Abundant in avocados, the antioxidant carotenoids are great for your eyesight. Beta-carotene is in fact a precursor of vitamin A. Studies have found that not getting enough lutein through your diet could cause age-related eye dysfunction. But diets rich in monounsaturated fatty acid have a protective effect against this dysfunction. Avocados, in particular, are spotlighted because the bioavailability of lutein/zeaxanthin in them is higher than in most other vegetables and fruits. This is because carotenoids are better absorbed by the body when mixed with MUFAs.15 This is why adding avocados to your rainbow salads is a great idea.

6. Prevents And Fights Cancer

So far, only a few studies have tested avocado’s ability to prevent and fight cancers like prostate cancer, acute myeloid leukemia (a cancer of the blood and the bone marrow), and oral cancer by inducing death in cancer cells.16 17 18

Avocados have been proven to fight prostate, oral, and blood and bone marrow cancer (AML) effectively.

But several studies on the bioactive substances like oleic acid, avocatin B, vitamin E, lutein, beta-carotene, alpha-carotene found in the fruit show that avocados could help with other cancers too. These compounds help inhibit the growth of precancerous and cancer cell lines, induce cell death (apoptosis) of abnormal cells, and also arrest the cell cycle.

Dietary vitamin E and lutein are linked with a decrease in the risk of breast cancer even in women with a family history of breast cancer,19 while the carotenoids can prevent oral cancers. Oleic acid is also known to reduce cancer risk by reducing inflammation.20

In addition, the phytochemicals could have potential use in reducing the side effects of chemotherapy.21

7. Helps In Weight Loss

The weight loss effect of avocados is beyond debate. About 80% of an avocado’s carbohydrates come from fiber. Of this, about 70% is insoluble and 30% soluble.22 Fiber can keep you full longer and help you restrict calorie intake. Fiber also helps avoid those sudden dips or spikes in sugar or energy levels that can lead you to make unhealthy food choices.23

People who eat avocados have been seen to eat healthier, work out better, and have lower waist sizes. Not a coincidence!

Strange but true, people who eat avocados also seem to eat healthier and work out better.24 25 They also improve the way your body uses or stores glucose, thus lowering your BMI.26 27

Eat 50 g Avocado Flesh Daily

In 2016, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) increased the serving size of an avocado from one-fifth of a medium-sized fruit to one-third. That’s the equivalent of about 50 grams of the fruit, which can give you 10 percent of your daily folate requirements and 11 percent of your daily value of fiber. It also gives you 6 grams of healthy fats, 135 micrograms of lutein/zeaxanthin, and a healthy dose of potassium and vitamins C and E.28 A third of a cup of avocado has around 80 calories, making it a fairly calorie-rich food.29 This means you need to pay special attention to your serving size – it’s easy to eat too much!

Eat Avocados Fresh And Raw

The best way to consume an avocado is when it’s nice and fresh. Scrape the flesh as close to the peel as you can since avocado peel has more helpful nutrients.

Avocados taste best eaten fresh and raw in a salad or used as a dip or spread. Or whip up a delicious avocado smoothie with a base of milk or dairy substitutes like nut or rice milk. This sure is one of the popular ways to drink up its goodness!

You could also juice an avocado, though you could end up consuming more calories than you want to. A cup of the juice requires multiple cups of the actual fruit. However, blending a serving of avocado into a smoothie with other low-calorie fruits and vegetables is a great and satisfying option.

Heating avocado can ruin its flavor, so don’t cook it. Also, remember, exposure to air can quickly oxidize the nutrients, so if you intend to eat more of your avocado later, a protective squeeze of lemon juice may help.

Don’t Overeat

Avocados are a good addition to any diet, provided you don’t go overboard. If you are calorie-counting, avocados can eat heavily into your daily caloric allowance. And while its good fats are great to have, be sure to compensate by cutting down on fats from other food sources.

References   [ + ]

1.USDA Food Composition Databases. USDA.
2.Pereira, Mark A., Eilis O’reilly, Katarina Augustsson, Gary E. Fraser, Uri Goldbourt, Berit L. Heitmann, Goran Hallmans et al. “Dietary fiber and risk of coronary heart disease: a pooled analysis of cohort studies.” Archives of internal medicine 164, no. 4 (2004): 370-376.
3.Avocados, raw, all commercial varieties. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28.
4.Perdomo, Liliana, Nuria Beneit, Yolanda F. Otero, Óscar Escribano, Sabela Díaz-Castroverde, Almudena Gómez-Hernández, and Manuel Benito. “Protective role of oleic acid against cardiovascular insulin resistance and in the early and late cellular atherosclerotic process.” Cardiovascular diabetology 14, no. 1 (2015): 75.
5.Potassium. University of Maryland Medical Center.
6.Aburto, Nancy J., Sara Hanson, Hialy Gutierrez, Lee Hooper, Paul Elliott, and Francesco P. Cappuccio. “Effect of increased potassium intake on cardiovascular risk factors and disease: systematic review and meta-analyses.” Bmj 346 (2013): f1378.
7.Best Fruits for Arthritis. Arthritis Foundation.
8.Wang, Li, Peter L. Bordi, Jennifer A. Fleming, Alison M. Hill, and Penny M. Kris‐Etherton. “Effect of a moderate fat diet with and without avocados on lipoprotein particle number, size and subclasses in overweight and obese adults: a randomized, controlled trial.” Journal of the American Heart Association 4, no. 1 (2015): e001355.
9.Li, Zhaoping, Angela Wong, Susanne M. Henning, Yanjun Zhang, Alexis Jones, Alona Zerlin, Gail Thames, Susan Bowerman, Chi-Hong Tseng, and David Heber. “Hass avocado modulates postprandial vascular reactivity and postprandial inflammatory responses to a hamburger meal in healthy volunteers.” Food & function 4, no. 3 (2013): 384-391.
10.Kim, Hyeri, Kumju Youn, Eun-Young Yun, Jae-Sam Hwang, Woo-Sik Jeong, Chi-Tang Ho, and Mira Jun. “Oleic acid ameliorates Aβ-induced inflammation by downregulation of COX-2 and iNOS via NFκB signaling pathway.” Journal of Functional Foods 14 (2015): 1-11.
11.Yoneyama, Satoko, Katsuyuki Miura, Satoshi Sasaki, Katsushi Yoshita, Yuko Morikawa, Masao Ishizaki, Teruhiko Kido, Yuchi Naruse, and Hideaki Nakagawa. “Dietary intake of fatty acids and serum C-reactive protein in Japanese.” Journal of epidemiology 17, no. 3 (2007): 86-92.
12.Best Fruits for Arthritis. Arthritis Foundation.
13.Maheu, Emmanuel, Christian Cadet, Marc Marty, Dominique Moyse, Isabelle Kerloch, Philippe Coste, Maxime Dougados et al. “Randomised, controlled trial of avocado–soybean unsaponifiable (Piascledine) effect on structure modification in hip osteoarthritis: the ERADIAS study.” Annals of the rheumatic diseases (2013): annrheumdis-2012.
14.Avocado Soybean Unsaponifiables. Arthritis Foundation.
15.Dreher, Mark L., and Adrienne J. Davenport. “Hass avocado composition and potential health effects.” Critical reviews in food science and nutrition 53, no. 7 (2013): 738-750.
16.Lu, Qing-Yi, James R. Arteaga, Qifeng Zhang, Sergio Huerta, Vay Liang W. Go, and David Heber. “Inhibition of prostate cancer cell growth by an avocado extract: role of lipid-soluble bioactive substances.” The Journal of nutritional biochemistry 16, no. 1 (2005): 23-30.
17.Lee, Eric A., Leonard Angka, Sarah-Grace Rota, Thomas Hanlon, Andrew Mitchell, Rose Hurren, Xiao Ming Wang et al. “Targeting mitochondria with avocatin B induces selective leukemia cell death.” Cancer research 75, no. 12 (2015): 2478-2488.
18.Ding, Haiming, Chunhua Han, Dongmei Guo, Young-Won Chin, Yi Ding, A. Douglas Kinghorn, and Steven M. D’Ambrosio. “Selective induction of apoptosis of human oral cancer cell lines by avocado extracts via a ROS-mediated mechanism.” Nutrition and cancer 61, no. 3 (2009): 348-356.
19.Freudenheim, Jo L., James R. Marshall, John E. Vena, Rosemary Laughlin, John R. Brasure, Mya K. Swanson, Takuma Nemoto, and Saxon Graham. “Premenopausal breast cancer risk and intake of vegetables, fruits, and related nutrients.” JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute 88, no. 6 (1996): 340-348.
20.Menendez, Javier A., and Ruth Lupu. “Mediterranean dietary traditions for the molecular treatment of human cancer: anti-oncogenic actions of the main olive oil’s monounsaturated fatty acid oleic acid (18: 1n-9).” Current pharmaceutical biotechnology 7, no. 6 (2006): 495-502.
21.Paul, Rajkumar, Paresh Kulkarni, and Narayan Ganesh. “Avocado fruit (Persea americana Mill) exhibits chemo-protective potentiality against cyclophosphamide induced genotoxicity in human lymphocyte culture.” J Exp Ther Oncol 9, no. 3 (2011): 221-30.
22, 27.Dreher, Mark L., and Adrienne J. Davenport. “Hass avocado composition and potential health effects.” Critical reviews in food science and nutrition 53, no. 7 (2013):738-750.
23.Burton-Freeman, Britt. “Dietary fiber and energy regulation.” The Journal of nutrition 130, no. 2 (2000): 272S-275S.
24.Fulgoni, Victor L., Mark Dreher, and Adrienne J. Davenport. “Avocado consumption is associated with better diet quality and nutrient intake, and lower metabolic syndrome risk in US adults: results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001–2008.” Nutrition journal 12, no. 1 (2013): 1.
25.Kien, C. Lawrence, Janice Y. Bunn, Connie L. Tompkins, Julie A. Dumas, Karen I. Crain, David B. Ebenstein, Timothy R. Koves, and Deborah M. Muoio. “Substituting dietary monounsaturated fat for saturated fat is associated with increased daily physical activity and resting energy expenditure and with changes in mood.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 97, no. 4 (2013): 689-697.
26.Padmanabhan, Monika, and Geetha Arumugam. “Effect of Persea americana (avocado) fruit extract on the level of expression of adiponectin and PPAR-γ in rats subjected to experimental hyperlipidemia and obesity.”Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine 11, no. 2 (2014): 107-119.
28.Avocado Serving Size Update. California Avocado Commission.
29.Avocados, raw, all commercial varieties. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

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