Avocado has more uses than turning it into guacamole. It is one of the best superfoods that a person must include in his or her diet.
But why? And what is the science behind avocado as a superfood?
These are the questions that we will answer today.
We will talk about:
- A primer on avocado
- The healthy components of avocado
- Benefits of avocado
- Health risks of avocado
By the end of this tutorial, you should have a clear perspective of why avocado should be in your fruit basket all the time.
Let us get started!
A primer on avocado
Avocado is a fruit that comes from a tree. Its scientific name is Persea Americana, and it is a superstar among all fruits because it contains no less than 20 vitamins and minerals. As history would have it, avocado originated in central Mexico, and it is also called in some regions as alligator pear.
Technically, avocado is a berry. It is not a rare fruit, and it grows in many tropical areas. It is easy to find, and they are also partially self-pollinating. About 34% of the avocados in the world come from Mexico.
Before we move forward, it has been noted that some people are allergic to avocado. It is strongly advised that you first take a small bite, and if allergies occur, you need to stop eating it.
To help you get acquainted with this superfood, take a look at a short list of vitamins, minerals, and elements found in this fruit:
- Different Vitamin B
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
There are many more minerals in this fruit, which we will be visiting in the succeeding sections. I will also help you understand why these vitamins and minerals are essential to your health.
Avocado is low on sugar. If you eat it, you will realize that unlike other fruits, it is not sweet. What makes avocado a great diet fruit is that it is rich in fiber. What fiber does to the body is it makes you feel full, making you eat less during the day. As a result, you manage your weight.
Some studies proved that those who ate avocados during lunch did not feel the need for the next three hours—this is great as it prevents you from eating snacks.
The healthy components of avocado
In this section, we will talk about the vitamins and minerals found in the fruit. We will explore what these vitamins and minerals do to the body.
- Carbohydrates – carbohydrates are macronutrients. They come from sugars and starches, and they are usually found in grains and milk or dairy products. Avocado has 9 grams of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are responsible for producing energy. They are one of the three main sources of energy—the other two are protein and fat. Our bodies need large amounts of carbohydrates to function normally.
- Fiber – you get 7 grams of fiber for every 100 grams of avocado. Fiber is essential to our digestive system, and it is found mostly in plants and fruits. Without fiber, the body cannot break down some kinds of foods. With fiber, you can keep your digestive clean and healthy, and it also helps in avoiding constipation. Fiber is also known to flush out cholesterol and carcinogens.
- Potassium – for every 100 grams of the fruit, you get 485 milligrams of potassium. Potassium is an element or mineral that regulates muscle contractions. It is involved in nerve signals. People usually get their potassium from bananas, but what many people do not understand is that avocado has more potassium than a banana. A banana only has 385 mg of potassium for every 100 grams.
- Vitamin C – you get 10 milligrams of Vitamin C from 100 grams of avocado. It is an essential vitamin that our bodies cannot produce. Also known as ascorbic acid, it is an important vitamin that helps us fight diseases. Its main role is not only to fight a disease called scurvy, but it also strengthens the body’s immune system.
- Vitamin E – this vitamin is important for maintaining skin health. It is an anti-oxidant that fights free radicals—harmful elements that cause aging and cancer. Vitamin E stops the development of free radicals as fat goes through oxidation in the body. It is known to delay aging and prevent the development of chronic diseases. Half of an avocado provides 2.08 milligrams.
- Beta-Carotene – this is a pigment found in fruits and plants. It comes mostly from carrots. Beta-carotene can be converted into Vitamin A. It acts as an anti-oxidant, which, like Vitamin E, fights the development of free radicals in the body. Like Vitamin E, it is important because it strengthens our immune system. It also helps in the development of good eyesight.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids – while it is true that fish is rich with omega 3-fatty acids, avocado is also a good contender. It is a kind of good fat that is also found in nuts and seeds. This fat helps fight the development of diseases like arthritis and asthma. It is also being tested if it can fight brain illnesses like dementia and ADHD.
- Lutein – a serving of avocado provides 136 micrograms of lutein. It is carotenoid that helps us maintain good eyesight as we get old. We typically find lutein in egg yolks, spinach, and broccoli, but avocado is a great alternative.
- Vitamin B6 – 100 grams of avocado produces 0.3 mg of Vitamin B6. Also called Pyridoxine, it is a vitamin that your body cannot produce. One of its main function is to control the production of serotonin, a hormone that balances our mood. This is why avocado is great to make you feel elated, and it is also great at fighting depression.
- Folate – this is a type of vitamin B. It is usually found in beef liver, but avocado will also give you a lot of it. The main function of folate is to make red and white blood cells. It is a critical vitamin for growth; this is why pregnant women need it for their developing babies. It is also a vitamin that teenagers need because their bodies are going through rapid changes and development.
As you can see, avocado is a fruit that packs some serious vitamins and minerals. The question is: how do these minerals and elements benefit our bodies?
Benefits of avocado
Now that we have covered the different nutrients found in avocado let us explore the different benefits it can do for your body.
1. Good for the heart
Avocados have a natural compound called beta-sitosterol. It is a compound that helps regulate and maintain good cholesterol levels in your heart. It is found in plants, and it is used to make medicine. Apart from balancing cholesterol levels, it is also used for treating the symptoms of an enlarged prostate.
2. Can elevate your mood
Because avocado is rich in folate, it helps decrease the likelihood of developing depression. Folate is a key element in preventing the build-up of a harmful substance called homocysteine. It is a naturally occurring substance in our blood, which is also associated with heart diseases.
Homocysteine builds up if your body does not have enough folate and vitamins B6, and B12. The reason this build up can end up in depression is it impairs blood circulation—it prevents the delivery of nutrients to the brain, plus it interferes with the production of serotonin, a hormone that regulates our mood.
3. Great for improving vision
Because of its lutein and zeaxanthin, avocado is a great food source to take care of your eyes. The eyes have special tissues that need an anti-oxidant to prevent damage from ultraviolet light, and the two phytochemicals that we mentioned are your best recourse to reverse the damaging effects of UV lights to the eyes.
4. Helps prevent cancer
Cancer occurs because normal cells begin to mutate and develop at a rapid phase. Over many years, researchers found out folate has the capacity to prevent cervical cancer.
Folate’s relationship with cancer is still a mystery to scientists, but many concur that it is an important element that prevents mutations in our DNA and RNA cell division—the process where cancer cells start to multiply.
Studies also show that avocados, because they are rich in phytochemicals, can prevent the growth of cancerous cells. They can even cause the death of cancer cells. And of these cells do not reproduce, you can fight cancer the natural way.
5. Can strengthen your bones
Half of one avocado has enough Vitamin K to meet your required daily intake. While many people are focused on taking Vitamin D to strengthen their bones, Vitamin K is actually beneficial in supporting bone growth and calcium absorption.
By taking Vitamin K, your bones can absorb calcium and use it. If you do not have enough vitamin K, your body is going to excrete calcium through your urine.
6. Improves digestion
Fiber is an important component to avoid constipation. Each fruit has about seven grams of fiber. With fiber, you can maintain a healthy digestive tract, and you can also prevent the development of colon cancer.
7. Healthy skin
Because of its Vitamin C and Vitamin E, the avocado does a wonderful job in making your skin glow. These two vitamins are critical in keeping your skin nourished and elastic. Avocado is even used in some cases to treat psoriasis.
As you can see, avocado has a lot to offer to make you healthy. A single fruit can be enough to meet your dietary requirement for several vitamins and nutrients, and it is a great practice to eat avocado at least once a week.
The exception to this is if you have a mild condition which gets exacerbated if you eat avocado. While avocado is a healthy fruit, it does not come without health risks, which we will discuss in detail in the next section.
Health risks of avocado
Like anything in the world, too much of something can be bad. Avocado may be a superfruit, but consuming too much of it has bad consequences, too.
A little avocado can make you feel full and prevent weight gain. The irony of it is that too much avocado can make you gain weight.
The reason for this is unsaturated fat. Since fat is digested slower, it stays in your body, and it gets accumulated over a period of time.
Another risk is allergy. You can experience a runny nose, wheezing, and even edema. Some people who eat avocado star to cough. The solution to this is to only eat small portions. Over time, your body may or may not get used to the fruit. If the symptoms persist, you have to consult a doctor.
Both of these health risks can be controlled. If you are allergic to it, you can train your body to get used to the fruit, but this will take a long time. Patience is the key, and you must always consult a physician before you take any action to fight the allergy.
As far as gaining weight is concerned, what you need to do is to control the portions of what you eat. Avocado is not meant to be a daily part of your diet. It is not like an apple—a fruit recommended for daily intake. Eat avocado once a week—this should give your body enough time to process the unsaturated fat.
Avocado is what we can consider an all-in-one superfruit. The debate can rage on, but no one can question the nutritional values of the fruit. It is like an orchestra in the sense that different nutrients have come together to produce a harmonious effect in the body.
Make avocado part of your regular diet to live a healthy lifestyle. Help yourself avoid obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
If possible, you can also take advantage of food supplements derived from the fruit. Avocados may be rich in fat, but these fats are essential ones that do you no harm—they are not like the fats that you eat from animals.