Most often than not, when you hear the word avocado, the first thing that comes to mind is FAT - just fat! That’s why some people shy away from eating it. But, is it only fat that you get from eating avocado?
Some avocado varieties are seasonal, while others are available anytime of the year. The avocado we have in our backyard are ready for picking between late June to July. Sometimes, we can still have a few harvest in the first week of August.
Why do I choose to write about avocado today?
I realized that some people refrain from eating avocado for the primary reason that it is full of fat without even bothering to know the kind of fat it contains. And so, I deemed it necessary to share the important facts about this nutrient-rich fruit if only to dispel the myths.
Benefits of avocado
Sometimes called by different names like stone fruit, alligator pear, or butter fruit, avocado trees thrive in semi-humid climate. Its fruits are distinctly known for its creamy texture. Each piece of the avocado fruit is loaded with amazing goodness.
Avocados are packed with tons of nutrition
Let me enumerate the vitamins and minerals you can get from avocado.
- Vitamins C, B6, E, and K
- Carotenoids Lutein and Zeaxanthin
- Pantothenic acid
- Dietary fiber
- Monounsaturated fats
- Polyunsaturated fats
Please take note of the last two items. Yes, it’s those kind of fat that fill the avocado. What does that mean?
Monounsaturated fats are friendly to your heart
Avocados are the fattiest plant food that ever grow on earth, where 77% of its calories are derived from fat. But don’t freak out! Because most of its fat is oleic acid. Oleic acid is a monounsaturated fatty acid that is good for your heart.
Researchers found that consuming monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats helps improve your cholesterol levels, stabilize the rhythms of your heart, and ease inflammation, among many other beneficial roles. A 50-gram serving of avocado gives you 5 grams monounsaturated fat and 1 gram of polyunsaturated grams fat. When you replace carbohydrates with these fats, your LDL (the harmful cholesterol) substantially decreases while your “good” or protective HDL increases.
The good fats facilitate absorption of nutrients
The monounsaturated fats in avocados help absorb the fat-soluble nutrients of other foods. When you consume avocado with other foods, like when you add it in your salad, it helps absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K, and carotenoids in your body. That’s why avocados are called nutrient boosters.
Avocados lower your cholesterol and triglyceride levels
Studies confirm that avocados can affect your cholesterol and triglyceride levels by these much:
- Lower your bad cholesterol (LDL) by up to 22%
- Increase your “good” or protective cholesterol (HDL) by up to 11%
- Reduce your blood triglycerides by up to 20%.
You see, when your triglycerides are high, you run the risk of heart disease. It may also be a sign of metabolic syndrome. That’s why it’s important to keep your blood triglycerides down.
It’s good for people with Type 2 Diabetes
If you’re Type 2 diabetic and trying to manage your weight, go for avocado. Avocado does not contain sugar and it can significantly support your weight management. Here’s why:
- Avocado does not contain sugar
- Over 75% of its fat is monounsaturated
- There are only 80 calories in every 50-gram serving of avocado
- It lowers your cholesterol
- Its low carbohydrate content causes little effect on your blood sugar level
- Increases your insulin sensitivity
- It is packed with fiber
- Since it makes you feel full faster and longer, avocado can help you lose weight
- Avocado makes a great nutrient-boosting breakfast
But, just a bit of caution: Not all avocado varieties are low in calories. Don’t choose the Hass variety if you’re a Type 2 diabetic because it contains around 250 - 289 calories, depending on the size. You may do well with a medium California variety for it contains only about 227 calories.
Helps you lose weight
Avocados contain a lot of water, making it less energy-dense. It also goes well with your calorie-reduced diet since you get only 80 calories in a 50-gram serving of this fruit.
A National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) found that people who regularly consume avocados are lean with normal weight, lower BMI, and less belly fat. Their higher nutrient intake protects them from metabolic syndrome, a group of conditions that increases your risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
Its dietary fiber makes you feel full longer
The fiber content in avocado does wonders for you in many ways, including:
- Eases your bowel movement
- You feel full faster and longer. This is one of my favorite benefits because I don’t need to take snacks in between meals anymore. The high fiber and fat content in avocado are responsible for the fullness effect in me (and you, too!) And of course, when you feel full longer, you end up eating fewer calories.
- It helps you lose weight. Since avocado makes you feel full faster and longer, you wouldn’t be craving for food in between meals.
- It improves your cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
- The nutrient-dense avocado protects you from many diseases including bowel cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and more.
Avocados are powerfully packed with potassium
Potassium is an electrolyte that helps your body to regulate fluid, send nerve signals, as well as regulate muscle contractions. Avocado is rich in potassium, even richer than what banana can give you. A 100-gram serving of avocado gives you 14% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA), while banana provides you with only 10%.
Eating avocado, and other potassium-rich foods, assures your body of a good fluid balance plus other benefits, like these ones:
- Protects you from heart attacks and stroke
- Lowers your blood pressure
- Helps you avoid kidney stones, kidney failure, and osteoporosis
Helps ease osteoarthritis
Avocados are rich in anti-inflammatory monounsaturated fat, vitamin E, and carotenoid lutein, compounds that are linked with a reduced risk of joint damage caused by osteoarthritis.
Avocados’ antioxidant content protects your eyes
The carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin content of avocados are powerful antioxidants that play an important role in eye health. Studies show that the fruit is linked with lower risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.
Avocado helps protect you from cancer
Avocados can cover you from cancer through its rich nutrients like antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, minerals, monounsaturated fats, and phytochemicals. Steven M. D’Ambrosio of the Ohio State University’s Comprehensive Cancer Center said that extracts from Hass avocados “thwart oral cancer cells, killing some and preventing pre-cancerous cells from developing into actual cancers”1. He further added:
We think these phytochemicals either stop the growth of precancerous cells in the body or they kill the precancerous cells without affecting normal cells. Our study focuses on oral cancer, but the findings might have implications for other types of cancer. These are preliminary findings, and more research is needed.
Phytochemicals are associated with risk reduction of chronic diseases, such as certain cancers, and promote neurocognitive, cardiovascular, eye, and bone health in humans.
If you haven’t done so yet, I highly recommend that you include avocado in your diet as much as possible. You’ll surely love the fruit. The creamy texture of avocado is truly delicious. You may eat it any way you like - mix in your salad, guacamole, etc... Personally, I just scoop its flesh from its peel and eat it plain. It’s a good breakfast item, too, especially when you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to prepare food.
1 Ohio State University. Avocados May Help Prevent Oral Cancer, Study Shows. ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 September 2007.