These days, it’s all about avocados: avocado oil, avocado mayonnaise, and avocado smoothies.
People can’t seem to get enough of this single seed fatty fruit.
That's right. Avocados are fruits.
These rich, creamy treats are one of the most nutritious fruits you can eat with an abundance of nutrients, including 20 different vitamins and minerals. And yes, they are beneficial to your health.
The avocado fruit we love today was once banished for its high fat content, but it has made a comeback. And you can see that in a surging popularity of guacamole! Yes, avocados are the main guacamole ingredient.
They are loaded with fat—a whopping 25-30 grams each.
But unlike you think, avocado's high fat content doesn't make you "fat."
Avocado's fat is the kind of fat called "monounsaturated fatty acids". It's the same heart-healthy kind found in olive oil.
Research suggests that a diet rich in this type of fat may help lower cholesterol, quell hunger and even spot-reduce the belly fat.
Here are 12 convincing reasons why you could benefit from adding more avocados to your diet; all supported by science.
1. Avocado is very nutritious
What we often refer to as an "avocado" is actually the fruit of the avocado tree called Persea americana (1).
This fatty fruit has been prized for its high nutritional value. It's also named as a superfood.
It's really no surprise this fatty fruit has become extremely popular among health conscious individuals given its many health benefits (2).
Despite the popularity of homogeneous avocado you see at the grocery stores all across America, avocados come in many varieties. It can be anything from pear-shaped to round, green to black, and 8oz to 3 lbs.
The most popular avocado, the one you see most often at the stores is called Hass avocado.
It has dark green color and bumpy skin. It was first grown and sold by Southern California mail carrier horticulturist Rudolph Hass, who has also gave it his name.
Regardless of its variations, avocados contain nearly a couple of dozens of essential vitamins and minerals.
Let’s take a look at the avocado nutrition to see how nutrient dense avocados are.
In every serving of avocado (3.5 ounce or 100 gram), there is (3):
- Vitamin K: 26% of the RDA.
- Folate: 20% of the RDA.
- Vitamin C: 17% of the RDA.
- Potassium: 14% of the RDA.
- Vitamin B5: 14% of the RDA.
- Vitamin B6: 13% of the RDA.
- Vitamin E: 10% of the RDA.
It also contains small amounts of Magnesium, Manganese, Copper, Iron, Zinc, Phosphorous, Vitamin A, B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin) and B3 (Niacin).
While packing in 160 calories, you also get to score 2 grams of protein and 15 grams of healthy fats.
For carb conscious dieters, avocado is a magical low-carb food only containing 9 grams of carbs, of which 7g is fiber. This brings net carb to only 2 grams. It's certain, avocado is a low carbohydrate fruit.
2. Avocados can help you lose weight
Avocado is one of the best foods for weight loss.
In a study where people were split into two groups, one with avocado in their diet and the other without, consumption of avocados resulted in more satisfaction (4).
The group that ate avocado with their meal felt 23% more satisfied and had a 28% less desire to eat up to 5 hours after.
This shows that eating avocados with your meal can help you eat fewer calories by keeping you feeling full for longer. You will also be less likely to snack and have an easier time sticking to a healthier diet.
Another major benefits of avocados is that, they’re also high in fiber, and very low in carbohydrate. They are the two attributes that promote a healthy weight loss.
3. Avocados can boost your nutrient intake
Eating nutritious foods is a start, a great start. But that's not enough.
It's just as important to make sure that your body absorbs those nutrients, moves them from the digestive tract and into the area they get used.
Eating avocado can provide that much needed fat and help improve the body’s ability to absorb more nutrients from other foods.
In one study, adding about half avocado (75 grams) to a carrot, lettuce, and spinach salad drastically increased the absorption of nutrients in the people who underwent the trial (5).
Results showed the following increases in nutrient absorption:
- alpha-carotene by 8.3 times
- beta-carotene by 13.6 times
- lutein by 4.3 times
In a second study, they found that adding a medium avocado (150 grams) or avocado oil to a serving of salsa increased the absorption of lycopene 4.4 times and the absorption of beta-carotene 2.6 times. This is comparison to eating the salsa without avocado (6).
Both studies concluded that the healthy monounsaturated fat found in avocado caused a significant increase in the absorption of the fat-soluble carotenoid phytonutrients in the meal.
Next time you think of using olive oil, try swapping to "avocado oil”! It's great for drizzling on top of your salad to adding a finishing touch to your veggie-pasta!
Takeaway: Eating half an avocado or drizzling avocado oil on top of your salad can help you absorb more nutrients and get the full benefits of the vegetables you eat.
4. Want beautiful smooth skin?
Eat avocado. Avocados are one of the best foods for skin. But that's not all.
The monounsaturated fats in avocado help nourish your skin, nails and hair (7).
Avocados are a rich in vitamin E and vitamin C, powerful antioxidant vitamins that fight oxidation damage in skin cells’ DNA (8).
Especially, vitamin C takes a special important. It is not only the most common antioxidant found in our skin, but it helps the skin make collagen.
Collagen, a popular word in skin care items is a protein that helps wounds heal.
And you can get this essential vitamin by eating avocados!
Vitamin E found in avocados is also important to your skin. It strengthens the capillary walls in your skin and improves moisture and elasticity, acting as a natural anti aging nutrient within the body (9).
Evidence also shows vitamin E helps reduce inflammation both in the body and on the skin, helping to maintain a healthy and youthful skin.
Not only that, vitamin C and E together can act as a natural form of sun protection, helping the skin repair damage caused by the sun.
From one cup of avocado, you can expect to get 4.5 mg of vitamin E (23% DV) and 20.2 mg of vitamin C (34% DV) (10).
But you can also enjoy these skin benefits by applying avocado oil directly to your skin to moisturized and hydrated the skin to make it look and feel younger and healthier.
5. Avocados can protect your eye
Avocados contain nutrients called Lutein and Zeaxanthin.
They linked a lower risk of cataracts and macular degeneration common in elderly to intake of these nutrients.
Including avocados as part of your healthy diet may help reduce the risk of developing age-related muscular degeneration. It will help to keep your eye healthy as you age.
6. Avocados can help lower your risk of depression
If you’re one of the millions of people who struggle with the "blues," depression, or anxiety, you may have serotonin deficiency.
And avocados may help.
Serotonin is the main brain chemical that promotes relaxation and is responsible for maintaining mood and balance. Simply put, it keeps us feeling happy. Conversely, a deficit of serotonin leads to depression (15).
One way to combat this deficiency is to take in an essential amino acid called tryptophan.
It's because tryptophan is a source of serotonin, and it helps our bodies create serotonin.
Evidence has it that avocados provide tryptophan. Thus, it helps the creation of serotonin and minimizes its deficiency (16).
According to one study published in the "Journal of Clinical Psychiatry”, not getting enough folic acid in our diet can put us greater risk of developing depression (19).
Since avocados contain more folic acid per ounce than any other fruit, eating them can also aid in depression and your brain health (20).
There is another deficiency linked to depression. That is vitamin B6.
Avocado can also take care of that deficiency by provides a day's worth of vitamin B6 in one avocado (21).
7. Avocado can make you healthier
One study observed the health and typical diets of people who eat avocados. To be exact, they looked at 17,567 people in the USA and analyzed their data (22).
They concluded that those who ate avocado had a much better health than people who didn't eat avocados.
Their nutrient intake was higher, and they are less at risk for metabolic syndrome, a cluster of symptoms linked to heart disease and diabetes.
Regular avocado eaters also weigh less, have a lower BMI and significantly less belly fat. They also have more HDL (the "good") cholesterol.
However… there is no definite link that avocados caused these people to be in better health.
Whether this particular study carries much weight is up to your take, but take it casually that avocados are great aid in helping you improve your overall health.
8. Avocados may help improve your digestion
Avocados are rich in fiber.
Despite its creamy texture, avocados are actually high in fiber, with approximately 6-7 grams per half fruit, or 10 grams per cup (146 g).
As you may already know, eating foods with natural fiber can help prevent constipation, maintain a healthy digestive tract and lower the risk of colon cancer.
To further break it down, about 25 percent of the fiber found in avocado is soluble, while 75% is insoluble (23).
Soluble fiber is known to help digestive health by feeding the friendly gut bacteria in the intestine (24).
9. Avocados can protect you from many chronic diseases
Avocados are high in nutrients, and researches are taking notice.
According to the Department of Internal Medicine and Nutritional Sciences Program of the University of Kentucky, high fiber intakes are associated with significantly lower risks of developing coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and certain gastrointestinal diseases (25).
Increased fiber intake has also been linked to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, improve insulin sensitivity, and enhance weight loss for obese individuals.
Again adding avocados to your diet can improve your health in a number of ways, including lowering your risk of the diseases mentioned above.
10. Avocados may help prevent cancer
Cancer is one of the most leading causes of death in the world.
Despite limited evidence that avocado can prevent cancer, research shows some of the nutrients found in avocados may help prevent the growth and spread of cancerous cells.
According to the Huffington Post, the following nutrients found in avocados have been studied for their cancer preventing properties:
- Carotenoids: "Inhibits the growth of prostate, breast, head and oral cancers"
- Vitamin E, lutein, and oleic acid: Reduce the rate of breast cancer
But they aren’t the only nutrients paving the way.
According to another article published on Medical News Today, there’s evidence that adequate intake of folate from food shows promise in protecting against colon, stomach, pancreatic and cervical cancer (26).
Avocado is very rich in this this nutrient "folate". In single cup of avocado provides almost 25% of your daily recommended dose of folate.
Another study published in the US National Library of Medicine states that their researchers explored the phytonutrients, in particular methanol found in avocados in relation to preventing the growth and death of cancer cells in patients undergoing chemotherapy (27).
Participants were given a dose of 100 mg, 150 mg, or 200 mg of a methanol extract and were monitored.
Patients given the 200 mg dose saw the most promising results and the study was able to conclude that, "phytochemicals from the avocado fruit can be utilized in making active chemoprotective ingredients(s) for lowering the side effect of chemotherapy like cyclophosphamide in cancer therapy”.
However, keep in mind that these studies were done in isolated cells and don’t really prove anything about what happens in a living, breathing human.
But the takeaway here is that there is evidence that shows that some of the nutrients found in avocados may benefit in preventing prostate cancer, and lowering side effects of chemotherapy in some cells.
11. Avocados can make your heart healthier
Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the world according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (28).
But there are ways to prevent heart disease.
To start, eating a healthy diet, regularly exercising, and not smoking are three key ways to keep your heart healthy and strong.
Avocado contains many nutrients that can make your heart healthier.
The effect of avocados and heart health has been studied in a 8-human controlled trial (29).
Researchers split them into two groups. One group was instructed to eat avocados, while the other was not. The researchers then analyzed their bloods overtime.
- drastically lower overall cholesterol levels
- up to 20% reduction in blood triglycerides
- up to 22% reduction in LDL (bad cholesterol)
- 11% increase in HDL (good cholesterol)
High level of triglycerides, cholesterol and high blood pressure has been shown to increase the risk of heart disease.
Avocado also contain phytosterols, which have anti-inflammatory properties, as well as cholesterol lowering effects.
12. Avocado is high in potassium
Potassium is an electrolyte that is critical in ensuring a number of bodily functions.
Potassium's main functions in the body includes regulating fluid balance and controlling activity of the heart and other muscles. It also helps with blood pressure by relaxing your arteries and ridding blood the body of excess sodium.
Excess sodium in the body can lead to fluid retention, which makes you bloated.
But sadly 98 percent of American diets are potassium deficient.
The good news is that this deficiency of potassium can be easily fixed, since potassium is a mineral that can be found in most foods.
Avocado is very rich in potassium.
One cup of sliced avocado provides a whopping 20% of your daily potassium intake. And that is double the amount of what you get in banana (32).
There’s no secrets that avocados are incredibly healthy and good for you.
They’re packed with nutrition, and when all of these nutrients get into the body, you can bet that they do amazing things for your health.
The healthy fats and fiber in avocados can help naturally lower LDL (bad cholesterol) and raise your good HDL (good cholesterol). It also helps regulate your blood sugar and keep inflammation down and your brain sharp. With benefits like these, it’s easy to see why avocados are named as a superfood.