The avocado is an unusual fruit which is high in fat and low in sugar. The fat it contains is heart healthy monounsaturated fat which, according to the American Heart Association, can help reduce your bad cholesterol and lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. This is one of the many health benefits of eating avocados.
- Protection from heart disease. A 2012 study at the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition tested the effects of eating a plain hamburger vs one with a large slice of avocado. They found that the plain hamburger had an unhealthy effect on blood pressure, while the added avocado eliminated this negative effect. There were also markers for inflammation present after the plain hamburger meal, but they were absent in the avocado-added meal. Triglycerides also increased after the plain hamburger meal, but not when the avocado was added. Other studies have shown that eating avocados regularly lowers LDL (bad cholesterol) and triglycerides by 22% and increases HDL (good cholesterol) by 11%. Also important is the fact that eating avocados reduces the number of small, dense LDL particles in your blood, which are the kind that contribute to heart disease because they can get through the lining of your arteries.
- Highly nutritious. Avocados provide 20 different vitamins and minerals. These include Vitamin K which is important for blood clotting and bone building, folate for normal cell function and tissue growth — especially for pregnant women, Vitamins C and E which work together for powerful antioxidant action. An avocado contains more potassium than a banana, which is important for the proper functioning of all cells, tissues and organs in your body as well as helping to prevent high blood pressure by balancing out the effects of too much sodium. They are a good source of magnesium, which is especially important for the functioning of your heart, muscles and kidneys. As a bonus, avocados also help you absorb nutrients from other foods that you eat because some of those nutrients are fat-soluble and need to be combined with fat before your body can use them.
- Cancer fighter. Avocados contain abundant phytochemicals (beneficial plant compounds), including carotenoids which are found in brightly colored fruits and vegetables and are considered to have cancer-preventive properties. Studies from the NIH have shown that phytochemical extracts from avocados were able to stop and prevent the growth of cancer cells as well as causing apoptosis, the death of pre-cancer and cancer cells.
- High in fiber. Avocados are surprisingly high in fiber, containing about 4.6 grams in just one half, of which 63% is insoluble fiber and 37% soluble. Insoluble fiber is not digested and serves as a prebiotic to feed your good gut bacteria and improve your gut health. The soluble fiber helps control your blood sugar by slowing down how quickly your blood sugar rises when you eat, and it also helps with weight control by keeping you feeling full longer so you can eat less.
- Eye health. Avocados contain some of the highest levels of lutein and zeaxanthin per serving of any fruit or vegetable. Both of these carotenoids are especially important for protecting your eyes and lowering your risk of macular degeneration and cataracts.
Avocados are delicious and incredibly versatile. Besides guacamole, you can add them to salads and sandwiches, in smoothies, as a substitute for butter or oil in baked goods, as a side dish or garnish, or even to make a vegan chocolate pudding. They’re also recommended as one of the first fresh foods to feed babies because of their creamy consistency. If you haven’t done so already, start eating avocados several times a week and let them become one of your favorites!