The versatile avocado offers numerous ways to prepare it and numerous benefits to eating it. This big, green berry works great as a sandwich or wrap ingredient, a smoothie base, a brownie goodie, and, of course, the key to guacamole. And, of course, you can always eat the whole fruit.
The nutrients-packed superfood offers a great list of health benefits, too, offering about 20 vitamins and minerals. It is also packed with protein, phytonutrients, and healthy fats. In this post, we shall look at 13 great benefits of avocado that should put it at the top of your next grocery list.
Health Benefits of Avocado
1. Packed with Potassium
Avocados provide a great source of potassium, a mineral that is vital to your health. Potassium plays a key role in heart health, muscle strength, metabolism, and regulating blood pressure, among other benefits.
Bananas are considered “king” when it comes to potassium-rich foods. However, avocados beat them hands-down. Fruit for fruit, the avocado provides twice the amount of potassium of the banana. For those who like figures, the avocado contains 975 milligrams of potassium content, while the banana contains 487. (Source: Huffpost).
2. Promotes Eye Health
The pear-shaped berry also contains the carotenoid lutein, which has been shown to promote eye health as well as protecting your eyes against cataracts and macular degeneration.
3. Boosts Brain Health
In previous post, we talked about a recent study that showed that lutein in avocados may help boost brain health and memory in older adults. While ant-aging benefits of the fruit (see #7 below) are physical, the brain health benefits are also part of anti-aging. Brain anti-aging is as important as, if not more important than, physical anti-aging.
4. Fights Cancer
Avocados are rich in cancer-fighting nutrients and phytochemicals including carotenoids, folate, and vitamin C, vitamin E, and zeaxanthin. Studies show the fruit may help protect against some forms of cancer including prostate cancer, breast cancer, and oral cancers.
One study showed that molecules derived from avocados target the stem cells of acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The lipid from avocado may attack leukemia cells directly, while leaving healthy stems unharmed.
Another laboratory study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry showed that tocopherols and carotenoids may be helpful in stopping the growth of prostate cancer cells.
5. Weight Management
Avocados are filling, which can help quell hunger pangs and cravings while also providing health-promoting nutrients. As you may already know, eating fewer calories than you burn off typically leads to lose of fat, aka weight loss.
For those who need to gain healthy weight, avocados may be something you should add into your diet. These include hard gainers (people who struggle to gain lean mass), the elderly, and generally anyone who needs to bring their weight up to a healthy level.
Avocados are rich in plant-based proteins – therefore ideal for vegetarians and vegans too – to support lean mass gain. Gaining lean mass also has the advantage of raising resting metabolic rate, which aids fat burning.
6. Protects Against Cellular Damage
Avocados contain Polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols (PFAs). Studies show that these healthy plant-based, anti-inflammatory fats may help protect against cellular (DNA) damage as well as enhance repair. They may also help protect against ultraviolet (UV) damage to skin as well as reduce existing damage. The fruit contains high amounts of the antioxidant vitamin E, which is vital to reducing cellular damage.
7. Support Healthy Aging
We can’t stop ourselves from growing older. However, by doing certain things we can reduce or slow down the effects of aging and look and feel good “for our age” as they say. Due to their antioxidant content, they are linked to anti-aging properties.
Several clinical studies suggest that xanthophylls, similar to those found in avocados, may have antioxidant and DNA protective effects with possible healthy aging protective effects.
8. Support Healthy Skin
Avocados contain significant amounts of vitamins C and antioxidants. These vitamins mean avocado benefits your skin’s health from the inside out as they contribute to skin elasticity and tone. Vitamin E helps protect skin against UV damage. Plus, healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats further help control skin moisture levels.
However, you don’t have to eat avocados to reap the benefits to your skin. Applying avocados directly on skin and hair has been used as a beauty treatment. They are also used as a natural treatment of psoriasis and acne.
9. Manage Diabetes
Despite being a fruit, avocados have little sugar in them. It’s a diabetic friendly food. The fiber in avocado may help reduce blood sugar levels.
Avocados have also been shown to help reduce of risk of metabolic syndrome, a group of factors including high blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure. These factors may lead to increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
Another diabetic friendly aspect is its net carbs. Although it has 9 carbs per serving, its fiber levels reduce that to two net carbs.
10. Digestive Health
Avocados can help improve of restore your digestive balance. They are rich source of dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats, all of which play a role in promoting digestive health as well as cleansing. The dietary fiber which can help keep you regular. If you experience issues with diarrhea or constipation, eating avocados may help you regulate elimination.
11. Improve Nutrient Absorption
The handy fat helps the body absorb the nutrients of other foods you eat. Carotenoids, for instance, are better absorbed when consumed with some fat and so are some fat-soluble vitamins and phytochemicals.
12. Healthy Pregnancy
Women also need high amounts of the B vitamin folate (or folic acid), found in avocados, during pregnancy. These help prevent birth defects such as spina bifida.
Not only that but, dealing with all-day morning sickness associated with pregnancy may affect ability to eat, which is not good for the mother or baby. Avocado may be a virtually smell-free way to fill you up while getting healthy nutrients including protein, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and healthy fats.
13. Lower Cholesterol
Although high fat, avocados provide a good fat, monounsaturated fat, which works in the human body to raise HDL (good) cholesterol and reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. They also contain more beta-sitosterol, a plant sterol linked to cholesterol-lowering effects. Plant sterols are substances naturally in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds, that have powerful cholesterol-lowering properties. Avocados pack more beta-sitosterol than any other fruit.
The health benefits of avocados may seem surprising, especially if you previously thought of this superfood as guacamole base. It doesn’t hurt that many people find it delicious, as well. Good for you and tasty? That’s a real superfood.