Avocado also known as an alligator pear or butter fruit is a stone fruit with a creamy texture that grow in warm climates.
Avocado is a very potent, incredibly nutritious, and filling plant. It is rich in many minerals, vitamins, and different plant compounds
According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, one serving (one-fifth of an avocado, approximately 40 grams) contains:
almost 6 grams of fat
3.4 grams of carbohydrate
less than a gram of sugar
almost 3 grams of fibre
Avocados are a great source of vitamins C, E, K, and B-6, as well as riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, and potassium. They also provide lutein, beta-carotene, and omega-3 fatty acids.
The avocado is a rather unique type of fruit. Most fruit consists primarily of carbohydrate, while avocado is high in healthy fats. It is the only fruit that provides a substantial amount of healthy monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA).
Avocados originate from Mexico, where they are part of traditional recipes (such as the ubiquitous guacamole) that are popular around the world for their deliciousness and health benefits. Avocado trees need tropical or subtropical temperatures to thrive, and so are also found in other parts of the world with such climates, including India and some African countries.
Health Benefits of Avocado
1. Healthy for the heart
Avocados contain 25 milligrams per ounce of a natural plant sterol called beta-sitosterol. Regular consumption of beta-sitosterol and other plant sterols has been seen to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
2. Improves vision
Avocados help to keep your eyes healthy. They contain carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin, which help to protect your eyes against cataracts, eye diseases related to age, and macular degeneration. Those conditions are often caused by free radicals that accumulate in the tissues of the eyes. The antioxidant activity of those special carotenoids neutralize the effects of those dangerous free radicals.
3. Osteoporosis prevention
Half of an avocado provides approximately 25 percent of the daily recommended intake of vitamin K.
This nutrient is often overlooked, but is essential for bone health.
Vitamin K is often overshadowed by calcium and vitamin D when thinking of nutrients important for maintaining healthy bones, however, eating a diet with adequate vitamin K can support bone health by increasing calcium absorption and reducing urinary excretion of calcium.
4. Osteoporosis treatment
Substances called saponins, found in avocados, soy and some other plant foods, are associated with relief of symptoms in knee osteoarthritis, with further research planned to determine the long-term effects of isolated extracts.
5. Reduces risk of cancer
Adequate intake of folate from food has shown promise in protecting against colon, stomach, pancreatic, and cervical cancers.
Although the mechanism behind this apparent reduction in risk is currently unknown, researchers believe that folate protects against undesirable mutations in DNA and RNA during cell division.
Avocados may even have a role to play in cancer treatment, with some research finding that phytochemicals extracted from avocado can selectively inhibit the growth of precancerous and cancerous cells and cause the death of cancer cells, while encouraging the proliferation of immune system cells called lymphocytes.
These phytochemicals have also been shown to decrease chromosomal damage caused by cyclophosphamide, a chemotherapy drug.
6. Births healthy babies
Folate is extremely important for a healthy pregnancy. Adequate intake reduces the risk of miscarriage and neural tube defects.
Recent research from McGill University found a 30 percent higher incidence of a variety of birth defects in baby mice conceived using sperm from mice with a folate deficiency compared with mice conceived using sperm from mice with adequate folate levels.
7. Good for morning sickness
During pregnancy, morning sickness is very common. Avocados help to overcome nausea and queasiness during pregnancy since it contains vitamin B6, which is commonly connected to reducing nausea and vomiting.
8. Improves digestion
Despite its creamy texture, an avocado is actually high in fibre with approximately 6-7 grams per half fruit.
Eating foods with natural fibre can help prevent constipation, maintain a healthy digestive tract, and lower the risk of colon cancer.
9. Natural detoxification
Adequate fibre promotes regular bowel movements, which are crucial for the daily excretion of toxins through the bile and stool.
Recent studies have shown that dietary fibre may also play a role in regulating the immune system and inflammation.
10. Antimicrobial action
Avocados contain substances that have antimicrobial activity, particularly against Escherichia coli, a leading cause of food poisoning.
11. Causes satiety and weight loss
There is some evidence that avocados are a weight loss friendly food.
Including avocados in your diet could help you naturally eat fewer calories and have an easier time sticking to a healthy diet, because you will feel more satisfied and have lower desire to eat over the next few hours.
Avocados are also high in fibre and very low in carbs.
12. Good for diabetes
Apart from the fruit, the leaf extracts of avocados also provide health benefits. A study conducted on non-diabetic and diabetic rats suggest that the leaf extracts may help in lowering blood glucose levels. For diabetic patients, the metabolism of starch-based foods into simple sugars like glucose can cause the spikes and plunges that are so dangerous for diabetics. Fibre helps to slow the breakdown of food into usable sugars, so it is absorbed by the body in a more balanced way. Furthermore, the majority of carbohydrates in avocados are made up of 7-carbon sugars, a relatively rare form of sugar that actually inhibits the enzyme hexokinase. This helps avocados control the way that glucose is metabolized by the body, thereby protecting the overall health of diabetic patients.
13. Fights bad breath
Consumption of avocado will bring back the freshness in your breath. Many people struggle with bad breath due to indigestion or an upset stomach.
Halitosis is the main cause of bad breath, but it can be eliminated by improving digestive health. The antibacterial and antioxidant properties of flavonoids found in avocado help you get rid of bad breath because they have the ability to kill the bacteria in your mouth.
Furthermore, avocado has been associated with preventing oral cancers.
14. Wound-healing activities
Being an excellent source of enrichment for dry, chapped, or damaged skin, avocado can also heal wounds all over your body.
According to a study, avocado has been suggested to heal wounds in rats.
15. Aids healthy skin and hair
Avocados are packed with nutrients that are beneficial for maintaining healthy skin. It enriches skin that is dry, chapped or damaged. They are added to a variety of cosmetics due to their ability to nourish the skin with essential vitamins and make it glow.
It is also used for nourishing dry and damaged hair. Many people use avocados to prepare skin and hair masks.
Above all, avocado oil helps in treating plaque psoriasis. Beta-carotene and lycopene are two of the organic compounds found in large quantities within avocados. Both of these have been connected to improving the health and tone of your skin and eliminating signs of premature aging.
16. Encourages longevity
Avocado is one of the fruits associated with healthy aging and longevity because of its potent compounds that regenerate your body. One of these potent compounds is xanthophyll, which is a powerful antioxidant.
According to one research study, an intake of xanthophyll is likely to decrease signs of the aging process on different parts of your body.
17. Liver care
Avocados are very good at reducing liver damage. It has certain organic compounds that help in improving liver health. Liver damage is normally caused due to Hepatitis C. Findings of a recent research study suggest that avocados may play a major role in toning up and protecting your liver from a wide variety of conditions.
18. Improves kidney’s health
Your diet plays a very important role in maintaining the balance of minerals and fluids in those who suffer from chronic kidney disorders. Potassium is one of the minerals that helps in maintaining a normal heart rate. Avocados are a good source of potassium and their inclusion in your diet may provide other benefits as well. It is important to make sure that potassium levels are not too high as that can also be dangerous for the heart. Potassium is a key aspect of maintaining fluid balance through chemical channels for cells and organs. This balance of fluid is also vital for the functioning of the kidney, which handles the movement of fluid and toxins through the body.
19. Nutrient absorption
Avocados are best eaten along with other fruits and vegetables. This is due to the fact that nutrients present in fruits and vegetables get enhanced when eaten along with avocados. The absorption of carotenoid antioxidant molecules, which helps to protect the body against free radical damage, increases three to five times when a salad is eaten along with avocado. Therefore, adding sliced avocado to mixed salad is a good way to make a healthy meal even better. This makes avocado a great element as an appetizer since it prepares the digestive tract to function at its highest level during the meal to come!
20. Lowers risk of depression
Foods containing high levels of folate may help to decrease the risk of depression because folate helps to prevent the build-up of homocysteine, a substance that can impair circulation and delivery of nutrients to the brain.
Excess homocysteine can also interfere with the production of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which regulate mood, sleep, and appetite.
21. Improves your mood
Avocados are high in folate, which falls into the family of B vitamins.
You may have heard that pregnant women should get enough folate in their diet, but this substance is good for everyone when it comes to regulating mood. How so?
Homocysteine naturally forms in the body, but too much of this substance will block the production of serotonin and dopamine; these chemicals regulate mood, as well as encouraging restful sleep at night.
Folate in avocados helps to prevent excessive amounts of homocysteine from forming in your body so that it can produce serotonin and dopamine.
Being able to sleep soundly and regularly can also mean a healthier, happier mood, as you’re less fatigued and will have more energy after a good night’s sleep.
By eating more avocados, you may see that you sleep more soundly and feel more rested and energetic throughout the day, and have a better mood as well.
22. Useful for athletes
Athletes require a lot of energy and must maintain optimal nutrition to fuel their body. Avocado provides vital nutrients to athletes to maintain required energy levels and good health. Moreover, they contain phytochemicals that are a natural fuel source for your body.
Ways to Eat Avocado
First, avocado should be eaten when ripe. The only edible part of avocado is the green insides.
You can tell how ripe an avocado is by gently pressing into the skin. If the avocado is firm and does not budge, you will need to let it ripen for a few days before consuming. Soft avocados make great guacamole or dip, while firmer avocados are great for slicing and adding to a salad or a sandwich. To speed up the ripening process, place an avocado in a paper bag with a banana.
Not only are avocados healthy, they're also incredibly delicious and go with all sorts of foods. You can add them to salads and various sorts of recipes, or you can simply scoop them out with a spoon and eat them plain.
They have a creamy, rich, fatty texture and blend well with various other ingredients. A notable mention is guacamole, which is arguably the most famous use of avocados. It includes avocado along with ingredients like salt, garlic, lime and a few others depending on the recipe.
Spread avocado on toast in the morning instead of butter.
Mix chopped onion, tomato, lettuce and avocado in a bowl. Add salt, pepper, lime juice and drizzle olive oil on the salad. You may add other vegetables or meat to the salad as well.
Use avocado instead of mayonnaise in chicken or egg salad, or as a spread on a sandwich.
Garnish soups with chopped avocado for additional flavour and health benefits.
The soft, creamy texture of an avocado and its mild taste make it a perfect first food for babies.
Avocados can be used for dressing food preparations of your choice.
Potential Health Risks of Consuming Avocados
Although avocado is greatly beneficial for your health, you should take into consideration its side effects and be cautious about your daily avocado intake.
If you are on a low-calorie diet, you should avoid eating high amounts of avocado because it is a high-calorie food.
Furthermore, if you are experiencing symptoms such as mouth itches, swollen tongue, heavy breathing, or stomach pain, you may be allergic to avocado and should seek medical help.
If you are allergic to latex, that may be an indicator that you are allergic to avocado because there are findings that suggest a connection between the two.
In addition, the risk of being allergic to avocado is increased in case you are allergic to potatoes, tomatoes, bananas, kiwi, melons, or peaches.
Also, be mindful when taking medications. If you take Warfarin, an anticoagulant, on a daily basis, it may cause an interaction. For this reason, always make sure to ask your doctor for help prior to eating avocado and mixing it with medications.
When it comes to daily consumption, it is recommended that you eat somewhere between a half to a full avocado per day. It is high in calories, which means that eating more than one avocado per day may cause harmful symptoms to your body, such as diarrhoea or nausea. Even though it may not seem like much, one full avocado is just enough for your body to get the most benefits from the fruit.
How to Select and Store? Avocados are readily available in stores all over the world. Fresh, ripe avocados with no dark spots should be chosen. Do not refrigerate avocados unless they are ripe. If a portion of the fruit has been used then the remainder may be stored in the refrigerator for future use. Unripe avocados can be stored at room temperature.