Who would have thought that one fruit could hold so many health benefits? In fact, because of its numerous health boosting properties, some hail avocados as the best natural food item in existence. Here we discuss the facts about avocados, the reasons why you should be eating more and the best ways of eating this nutritional powerhouse.
- The avocado is the fruit of the Persea americana tree native to Central America and Mexico, where it is thought to have originated.
- It comes in many shapes, sizes and colors, but the most popular type is the Hass Avocado. Hass avocados are pear-shaped with a dark green bumpy outer skin and bright yellow-green inner flesh. The flesh is eaten, and the skin and seed are thrown away.
- Avocados are high in monounsaturated fats. These are also known as “healthy fats” because of their potential to reduce cholesterol and the risk of developing serious illnesses such as heart disease.
- The fruit is packed full of dietary fiber. In fact, it’s possible to achieve half of your recommended daily intake of fibre by eating an avocado every day.
- There are approximately four grams of protein in an average avocado, making it one of the most protein-rich fruits on the planet.
- Avocados are an rich in potassium, even more so than bananas. They are also an excellent source of vitamins including vitamin K, vitamin B, vitamin C and vitamin E.
- In smaller quantities, the avocado also contains Magnesium, Copper, Iron, Zinc, Phosphorous and Vitamin A.
- Compared to other fruits, the avocado is low in sugar. There is around 0.4g of sugar in an average sized avocado. Compare this to a large banana which contains approximately 17g of sugar.
The health benefits of avocados
- They can help to lower cholesterol
Heart disease is responsible for the most number of deaths throughout the world. High levels of bad cholesterol are linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Many research studies have found that eating a diet rich in avocados can help to reduce levels of bad cholesterol, which in turn reduces your risk of heart disease.
- They can lessen the risk of metabolic syndrome
Metabolic syndrome is the name given to a group of symptoms associated with heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Studies have proven that there is a strong link between eating avocados and a reduced risk of metabolic syndrome symptoms.
- They promote a healthy weight
Studies show that people who eat avocados are generally healthier than those who don’t. Despite being high in fat (healthy fat, however) avocados can play a big part in maintaining a healthy body weight. People who eat avocados regularly are more likely to have a lower weight, body mass index and waist size than those who don’t.
- They are cancer-fighting
Avocados help prevent the development of certain cancers because they are full of phytochemicals. Phytochemicals (or plant chemicals) are found in fruits, vegetables and grains and are linked to a reduced risk of serious illnesses, like cancer.
- They lower blood pressure
High blood pressure is linked to heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure. Because they are naturally high in potassium, many studies have shown that avocados can support healthy blood pressure levels.
- They make you look younger
Eating avocados regularly can do wonders for your skin. The antioxidants in avocados
boost the thickness and density of your skin creating an extra level of protection from
environmental pollution and the elements. This can delay many signs of ageing on your skin including wrinkles and age spots. If you want more general information on this subject, antiagingworld talks about slowing the aging process by eating healthily.
- They help your body to absorb more nutrients
When we eat plant foods, many of the nutrients that they hold are not absorbed from the digestive tract into the rest of our bodies. This is because some nutrients require to be combined with fats in order to be used by the body. Enter avocados. Not only are they highly nutritious themselves, but they can also improve the absorption of other healthy foods. So, next time you are having a salad, add an avocado or some avocado oil to help you get the maximum nutritional benefit.
How to eat avocados
Avocados have a creamy texture and a rich, almost buttery taste. They are extremely flexible, marrying well with a whole host of other ingredients. They often take a little time to ripen, so only eat them when they feel soft to touch.
Because they are quite robust in taste and texture some people enjoy eating them on their own as a healthy snack. Simply slice the avocado in half, remove the seed and scoop out the flesh with a spoon.
However, they also work well as one of the main ingredients in a more substantial meal. They are delicious when combined with certain meat, fish, seafood, vegetables, just to name a few. Some of our favourite recipes include prawn and avocado salad, guacamole with chilli tacos and chicken and avocado sandwiches. If you are keen to increase your intake of this “super food”, look online for many new and inventive things you can do with this ingredient.
If you are not a fan of the taste or texture of avocados, there are still ways you can incorporate them into your diet if you want to. Try adding them to a blender, along with other fruit and vegetables for a delicious smoothie or juice. The avocado will thicken your drink and keep you fuller for longer. They also work well as a substitute for eggs in a naughty chocolate mousse.
Avocados are an awesome food. Not only are they packed full of nutrients that many of us get little of, but by eating them regularly they can improve our overall health. And if that wasn’t enough, they also taste delicious and are very versatile. On that note, we are off to fix up a nice avocado sandwich. Thanks for reading.