10 Health Benefits of Avocados
Did you know avocados are a heart-healthy food, rich in several vital nutrients.?
Avocados are a tropical fruit that originated in Mexico; today there are more than 30 varieties and hybrids cultivated world-wide. The fruit has a leathery green skin with a pebbly texture that turns black as the fruit ripens. Because of its rough exterior and shape, the avocado is also known as the alligator pear. The interior is pale green with a smooth, buttery texture and a mild green taste. The avocado adds a rich texture to savory and sweet dishes.
Avocado is also a heart-healthy food, rich in several vital nutrients. Avocados are considered nutritiously dense, and they have a relatively low number of calories per serving. One-fifth of a medium avocado has 50 calories and 4.5 grams of fat.
Each serving also has eight percent of the daily value of vitamin K, seven percent of the daily value of folate, and four percent of the daily value of vitamins C and E as well as several B vitamins: B6, pantothenic acid, niacin and riboflavin. Avocados also have four percent of the daily value of potassium, two percent of the daily value of the B vitamin thiamin and two percent of the daily value of magnesium.
Here are 10 health benefits of avocados:
Prostate Cancer Prevention: Avocados have been shown to inhibit the growth of prostate cancer.
Oral Cancer Defense: Research has shown that certain compounds in avocados are able to seek out pre-cancerous and cancerous oral cancer cells and destroy them without harming healthy cells.
Breast Cancer Protection: Avocado, like olive oil, is high in oleic acid, which has been shown to prevent breast cancer in numerous studies.
Eye Health: Avocados have more of the carotenoid lutein than any other commonly consumed fruit. Lutein protects against macular degeneration and cataracts, two disabling age-related eye diseases.
Lower Cholesterol: Avocados are high in beta-sitosterol, a compound that has been shown to lower cholesterol levels. In one study, 45 volunteers experienced an average drop in cholesterol of 17% after eating avocados for only one week.
Heart Health: One cup of avocado has 23% of the recommended daily value of folate. Studies show that people who eat diets rich in folate have a much lower incidence of heart disease than those who don’t. The vitamin E, monounsaturated fats, and glutathione in avocado are also great for your heart.
Stroke Prevention: The high levels of folate in avocado are also protective against strokes. People who eat diets rich in folate have a much lower risk of stroke than those who don’t.
Better Nutrient Absorption: Research has found that certain nutrients are absorbed better when eaten with avocado. In one study, when participants ate a salad containing avocados, they absorbed five times the amount of carotenoids (a group of nutrients that includes lycnopene and beta carotene) than those who didn’t include avocados.
Glutathione Source: Avocados are an excellent source of glutathione, an important antioxidant that researchers say is important in preventing aging, cancer, and heart disease.
Vitamin E Powerhouse: Avocados are the best fruit source of vitamin E, an essential vitamin that protects against many diseases and helps maintains overall health.
HOW TO SELECT AND STORE AVOCADOS:
A ripe, ready-to-eat avocado is slightly soft but should have no dark sunken spots or cracks.
If the avocado has a slight neck, rather than being rounded on top, it was probably tree ripened and will have better flavor.
A firmer, less mature fruit can be ripened at home and will be less likely to have bruises. As the fruit ripens, the skin will turn darker.
Avocados should not be refrigerated until they are ripe. Once ripe, they can be kept refrigerated for up to a week. If you are refrigerating a whole avocado, it is best to keep it whole and not slice it in order to avoid browning that occurs when the flesh is exposed to air.
If you have used a portion of a ripe avocado, it is best to store the remainder in the refrigerator. Store in a plastic bag, wrap with plastic wrap, or place on a plate and cover with plastic wrap. Sprinkling the exposed surface(s) with lemon juice will help to prevent the browning that can occur when the flesh comes in contact with oxygen in the air.
QUICK TIP: The vitamin E in an avocado has also been linked to a healthy heart, something needed to keep you successfully burning fat all day long. Perhaps the biggest health benefit of avocados is that by adding avocado to certain foods, you can improve your absorption of nutrients. This means that when you combine other fat burning foods with avocado, you can improve your nutrient absorption up to 400%!