Avocado, or also called alligator pears, is a fruit that belongs to the Lauraceae, a flowering plants family which also includes camphor, cinnamon and bay laurel. Avocados are believed to be originated in Mexico, where the name of “avocado” is derived from Aztech or Nahuatl word ‘ahuacatl‘, meaning ‘testicle‘, a reference to the shape of the fruit.
The avocados are very popular in vegetarian cuisine, as a substitute for meats in sandwiches and salads due to its high fat content. It is used as the base for the Mexican dip known as guacamole, as well as a filling for several kinds of sushi, including California rolls. It is also popular in chicken dishes and as a spread on toast, served with salt and pepper.
In some countries such as Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, and Brazil, avocados are commonly used for milkshakes and occasionally added to ice cream and other desserts. The dessert drink is made with milk, sugar and crushed ice. Chocolate syrup is sometimes added.
Apart from that, avocados are also considered as one of the healthiest foods in the planet as they contain in excess of 25 essential nutrients, including vitamin A, B, C, E, & K, copper, iron, phosporus, magnesium, and potassium. Avocados also contain fiber, protein, and several beneficial phytochemicals such as beta-sitosterol, glutathione and lutein, which may protect against various disease and illness.
Moreover, the avocado is one of the high calorie fruit that you could be eating. This is due to its larger amounts of fat content, approximately 20 times the average of other fruits. Although Avocado is high in fat content, but it is mostly the monounsaturated fat which is a healthy fat variety.
Here are 15 health benefits of avocados:
- Maintain a healthy heart
Avocado contains vitamin B6 and folic acid, which help regulate homocysteine levels. High level of homocysteine is associated with an increased risk of heart disease. Avocado also contains vitamin E, glutathione, and monounsaturated fat, which help in maintaining a healthy heart.
- Lower cholesterol levels
Avocados are rich in a compound called beta-sitosterol which has been shown to be effective in lowering blood cholesterol levels. According to a study, patients with mild hypercholesterolemia who included avocados in their diet for 7 days had 17 percent decrease in total blood cholesterol levels, a 22 percent decrease in both LDL (bad cholesterol) and triglyceride levels, and a 11 percent increase in HDL (good cholesterol) levels.
- Control blood pressure
Avocados are also a great source of potassium, which helps in controlling blood pressure levels.
- Anti-Inflammatory properties
Phytonutrient compound found in avocados, such as polyphenols and flavonoids have been found to have anti-inflammatory properties, thereby reducing the risk of inflammatory and degenerative disorders.
- Promote eye health
Avocado is an excellent source of carotenoid lutein, which known to help protect against age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
- Regulate the blood sugar levels
The monounsaturated (good) fats in avocados can reverse insulin resistance which help to regulate blood sugar levels. Avocados also contain soluble fiber which keep a steady blood sugar levels.
- Prevent birth defects
Avocados are rich in folate, a B vitamin commonly known as folic acid. One cup of avocado provides about 23% of the recommended daily value of folate. The high amount of folate in avocado is essential in the prevention of birth defects, such as neural tube defect and spina bifida.
- Reduce strokes risk
The high levels of folate in avocados may also protect against stroke. A study has shown that individuals who ate a diet rich in folate had a lower risk of stroke than those who did not
- Protect against cancer
Many studies have shown that avocado can inhibit the growth of prostate cancer. The oleic acid in avocado is also effective in preventing breast cancer.
- Fight free radicals
Avocados contain glutathione, a powerful antioxidants that helps fight free radicals in the body.
- Anti-aging properties
Being rich in antioxidants, avocado is beneficial in preventing aging symptoms. The glutathione in avocado may boosts immune systems, slows aging process, and encourages a healthy nervous system.
- Cure bad breath
Avocados are one of the best natural mouth wash and bad breath remedies. It cleanses intestine which is the real cause of coated tongue and bad breath.
- Increase nutrient absorption
Avocado intake is linked with an increased nutrient absorption. A study suggests that, when participants ate salad included avocados, they absorbed five times the amount of carotenoids (a group of nutrients that includes beta carotene and lycopene) than those who did not include avocados.
- Skin Care
The avocado oil is added in many cosmetics because of its ability to nourish the skin and make your skin glow. It also aids in treating psoriasis, a skin disease that causes skin redness and irritation.
- Weight gain
The avocado has 200 calories for 100 grams. Typically, fruits has approximately 60-80 calories for 100 grams. Due to the high amounts of calories, avocado is a best diet for people who want to gain weight. Avocado is a healthy source of calories, unlike many other calorie-dense foods that may contain excess saturated fats and sugar.