Avocados, the delicious green fruit to the beloved guacamole. The prejudice of avocados and their fat content used to get them looked over in the health food world. However, avocados are so much more than a favorite appetizer; avocados are jam packed with the best nutrients and offer a multitude of health benefits. Ever since avocados caught fire, that prejudice has been completely dismantled and put to rest. So much so that now the average American consumes about 5 pounds of avocado a year, compared to the 1.5 pounds 15 years ago.
Healthy Digestion and Weight
One of the many health benefits avocados provide is that they support healthy digestion. One cup of avocado contains 40% of the recommended daily intake of fiber, both soluble and insoluble. Fiber works to bulk up stool and ensure smooth passage of food through the intestines. Without enough fiber in the diet, constipation and/or diarrhea can occur, leaving the toxins in our bodies. The rich fiber content of avocados is very supportive to weight loss and maintenance; providing the sensation of satiety helps to stop over eating and mindless eating. Fat consumption also leaves us feeling full, and eating the healthy fats in avocado can help eliminate body fat. Avocados are full of healthy fats, such as omega 3 and omega 6 fat. Avocado oil is also just as beneficial to weight loss and management as the fruit itself. A recent study performed at Penn State found that belly fat can be lowered by 1.6% if high-oleic oil (present in avocado oil) is consumed on a daily basis for one month.
Avocados are renowned for being a source of healthy fat, specifically omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. These fatty acids are the king of fat our bodies need to function properly, as opposed to saturated fats. Omega 3 fats have an important role in brain function, and help fight against heart disease. This source of healthy fat is also beneficial to the absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K). The addition of avocado to a dish can increase vitamin absorption by up to 15 times more than a meal without avocado. The regular consumption of avocado actually works to lower the LDL cholesterol levels by 20% and increase the HDL levels by 11%. This healthy switch means the good fat is eliminating the “bad fat” in the blood, supporting a healthy heart and overall body.
An amazing health benefit from avocado consumption is that they are a rich source of antioxidants! In recent years, many new sources of antioxidants have been highlighted, in addition to traditional sources. Avocados contain so many antioxidants, it’s a bit much to list all of them and how they help the body. However, one they do contain is glutathione, known as the “mother of all antioxidants”. This antioxidant is actually naturally occurring the body, but poor diet, smoking, aging, and stresses deplete natural glutathione levels. This antioxidant is amazing because it acts like the “catch all” within the body, attracting toxins like free radicals and heavy metals. Research has been done to show the organic compounds in avocados can cause cancer cells to die via apoptosis, a process of programmed cell death.
Avocados contain more potassium per serving than bananas. One half cup serving of avocado offers about 15% of the recommended daily intake of potassium, compared the 10% in a half cup of bananas. Potassium is a natural way to lower blood pressure, by releasing the tension in blood vessels and arteries. This tension, caused by excess sodium in the body, can damage blood vessels and allow plaque to build up in them. As potassium works to remove excess sodium from the body, the chance for stroke and heart disease decrease as well.
Vitamin K Deficiency
Although vitamin K deficiency is not very common, it does occur and can lead to health risks. Avocados are great source of vitamin K. One half cup of the fruit contains roughly 25% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin K. This fat soluble vitamin is great for blood coagulation and appropriate healing of wounds. It is also needed in the development and strength maintenance of healthy bones. Calcium uses vitamin K as a as liaison to strengthen bones in the body. A regular intake of vitamin K found in avacodo can aide in the prevention of osteoporosis and fractures.
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