Touted as one of the most nutritious foods on earth, avocado is the darling of the produce section. Unlike most fruits, it’s rich in heart-healthy fats and has a low carb content. Also known as the butter fruit or alligator pear, it boasts a wide range of health benefits. When consumed regularly, avocados may reduce heart disease risk, improve eyesight, and prevent osteoporosis.
Brief History of Avocado
This fruit originates in Mexico and Central America. Its name derives from “ahuacatl,” a Nahuatl word that means “testicle” and refers to avocado’s shape and aphrodisiac properties. Its scientific name is Persea americana. The oldest evidence of avocados dates around 10,000 BC.
In ancient times, avocado was considered a luxury food reserved for the wealthy. Today, it’s widely cultivated in most countries with a Mediterranean climate as well as in San Diego County, the U.S. Capital of Avocado. A single tree can produce up to 500 fruits annually. Avocado is used in cuisines worldwide in spices and sweet dishes alike.
Is Avocado Really Good for You?
Many dieters avoid this fruit because of its high fat content. However, the fats in avocado are actually good for health. Oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid, has been shown to reduce inflammation and prevent cancer. Avocado also contains more potassium than bananas, which help reduce high blood pressure and improves cardiovascular health. One cup of avocado (150 grams) provides:
- 240 calories
- 22 grams of fat
- 3 grams of carbohydrates
- 10 grams of fiber
- 3 grams of protein
- 39% of the RDA of vitamin K
- 25% of the RDA of vitamin C
- 5% of the RDA of iron
- 2% of the RDA of calcium
- 4% of the RDA of vitamin A
- 30% of the RDA of folate
- 21% of the RDA of potassium
- 165mg of Omega-3 fatty acids
- 2534mg of Omega-6 fatty acids
- 21% of the RDA of pantothenic acid
This fruit also delivers large amounts of zinc, manganese, and B-complex vitamins. A study conducted by NHANES has found that avocado improves diet quality and nutrient intake, prevents metabolic syndrome, and reduces cholesterol levels. In a seven-day study, subjects who consumed avocado daily showed a 22 percent decrease in LDL (bad) cholesterol, an 11 percent increase in HDL (good) cholesterol, and a 17 percent reduction in total cholesterol. These health benefits are due to the combination of phytosterols, fiber, and monounsaturated fats in avocado.
Rich in fiber, this fruit aids in weight management, promotes regular bowel movenments, and stabilizes blood sugar levels. It also contains lutein, glutathione, beta-sitosterol, and other phytochemicals that protect against oxidative damage and macular degeneration. The heart-healthy fats in avocado enhance the absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K, increasing the nutrient value of the foods you eat. Research indicates that adding avocado to salsa or salads can boost antioxidant absorption by up to 15 times.
From insulin regulation to weight loss, increased satiation, and greater energy, avocado can improve every aspect of your health. This fruit contains numerous vitamins and minerals that reduce inflammation in joints and tissues, promote digestion, and lower your risk of heart disease, liver damage, and prostate cancer. Depending on your preferences, you can use in smoothies, green salads, dips, and guacamole, or as a replacement for butter and mayo.