Avocados, which are sometimes also called butter fruit or alligator pears, are a popular stone fruit that grows in warm climates, and is often a feature of Mexican and South American cuisine.
We all know that eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables is one of the best decisions you can make for long-term health benefits, and adding avocados into the mix can give you an added boost because they are one of the few fruits out there that contain healthy fats!
The creamy texture that you find in avocados is due to this high fat content. It may seem strange that a food in which the majority of the calories come from fat is considered healthy, but it is absolutely true! Fat is an essential nutrient that every cell in your body needs in order to survive. The healthy fats in avocado also keep you feeling full and slow the breakdown of carbohydrates into sugar, which keeps your blood glucose levels stable. Aside from being a great source of beneficial monounsaturated fats, avocados also contain a multitude of different vitamins and minerals.
Here are ten great reasons to start adding more avocado and avocado oil to your diet!
1. Enhanced Nutrient Absorption
Avocado oil boosts the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients in your food, such as vitamins A, D, K, and E. The carotenoids in other vegetables require dietary fat for absorption, which can pose a problem because most carotenoid-containing foods are low in fat. Fresh slices of avocado are the perfect complement to a salad because not only does avocado contain high amounts of unsaturated fatty acids to boost absorption of these nutrients, the avocado itself also contains large amounts of carotenoids! Studies have shown that even small amounts of avocado oil enhance the absorption of nutrients from a salad when compared to salads without avocado oil.
2. High Nutrient Density
Avocados are an extremely nutrient-dense food. This means that they provide a hefty amount of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients with a relatively low number of calories. One ounce of avocado is only around 50 calories, and contains almost 20 vitamins and minerals! Avocado is a great source of vitamin B5, vitamin K, and fiber. It is also a good source of magnesium, phosphorus, iron, and potassium – providing even more potassium per gram than a banana!
3. A Healthy Choice for Healthy Babies
Looking for a first food for baby? Look no further than the avocado! It’s soft, creamy texture is easy for babies to eat, and its mild taste makes it a perfect introductory food for infants. The healthy fat content of avocados (3.5 grams per ounce) is an important part of your infant’s diet, as it is essential for normal growth and development of the brain and nervous system. The folate content of avocados can also help baby before he’s even born! Folate is an extremely important nutrient for pregnant women to take because it reduces the risk of neural tube defects. One ounce of avocado (about ⅕ of a medium fruit) contains almost 30 mcg of folate, which is around 6% of the recommended daily intake for an adult.
4. Reap the Benefits of Fiber
Avocado is actually quite high in fiber, with a single ounce containing around 2 grams of dietary fiber. Eating a high-fiber diet can help to maintain digestive health because fiber prevents constipation and normalizes bowel movements by increasing the weight and size of the stool. A high fiber diet is associated with a decreased risk of colon cancer. It can also lower cholesterol levels, help to control blood glucose levels, and keep you feeling full between meals to help you achieve your weight goals!
5. Maintain Eye Health
Avocados contain the compounds lutein and zeaxanthin, which are found in high concentrations in eye tissue. These phytochemicals act as antioxidants to help minimize damage done to the eyes by ultraviolet light. Avocado oil also supports healthy vision by enhancing the absorption of fat-soluble antioxidants like beta-carotene, which is associated with a decreased risk of developing age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
6. Improve Cardiovascular Health
Avocados can help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and lower blood cholesterol levels when consumed in place of foods high in sugar and bad fats such as trans fats. Choosing healthy fats like the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in avocado is also an important step to heart health. Aside from the beneficial fat content, there are many other nutrients in avocado that are great for your heart, such as beta-sitosterol, which may block cholesterol absorption; and potassium, which can help to lower blood pressure by counteracting the effect of sodium.
7. Be Happy!
Foods that contain relatively high levels of folate, such as avocado, can help to decrease your chances of experiencing depression by preventing the buildup of homocysteine, an amino acid that can interfere with the production of the hormones serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which are necessary for the regulation of mood and sleep.
8. Maintain Healthy Bones
Avocado is an excellent source of the fat-soluble vitamin K, which is an important nutrient for bone health. It is well known as being a key player in helping blood clot, but it also helps the body to use calcium to build bone by increasing calcium absorption and reducing the excretion of calcium through the urine. People with osteoporosis are usually found to have low levels of vitamin K, and having insufficient vitamin K is linked to an increased risk for developing osteoarthritis. Studies indicate that vitamin K improves bone health and reduces the risk of bone fractures in populations that are at risk for osteoporosis.
9. Protect Against Chronic Disease
Eating avocados can help to significantly lower your risk of developing chronic diseases and health problems such as coronary heart disease, hypertension, obesity, and diabetes. The high fiber content of avocados can help to lower blood pressure and cholesterol and improve insulin sensitivity. The compounds in avocados, such as omega-3 fatty acids and carotenoid antioxidants, have anti-inflammatory properties that can help with inflammatory health issues such as rheumatoid arthritis. A 2007 study even found that the phytochemicals in avocado caused cancer cells to stop growing and die!
10. Healthy Replacement for Other Fats
The creamy texture of avocado makes it a great substitute for those with dairy or lactose intolerances, or for people who follow a vegan diet. Avocados, with their healthy unsaturated fat content, are a great way to add variety into your diet by complementing your intake of other foods which contain beneficial fats like organic, grass-fed butter and ghee. The versatility of avocados is truly astounding: you can eat them alone; use them to make a creamy salad dressing; use them in baking; or even add them to smoothies!