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All about Avocado and its Health Benefits

Updated on June 13, 2013
Small hass avocado
Small hass avocado | Source
Large hass avocado
Large hass avocado | Source

Boost the Benefits

When you think of avocado, you may think of guacamole. But there are healthier ways to enjoy this fabulous fruit. Instead of buttering your toast or slathering your sandwich with mayonnaise, spread on some mash avocado. You’ll get a great taste without the saturated fat.

Add some diced avocado to your salads, and gain an extra edge. The healthy fat in avocados helps your body absorb nutrients like vitamins A, D, E, and K from the salad’s other fruits and veggies. You can also make healthy salad dressing by mixing avocado and balsamic vinegar.

Avoid Allergies

Allergic to latex? You may also react to avocado, which is related to the rubber plant.

Their bumpy texture and pear-like shape have given avocados the nickname “alligator pears”- and these tasty fruits are certainly worth snapping your jaws into. Packed with beneficial nutrients to fight a variety of conditions, avocados guard your health and please your taste buds.

Most avocados come from Mexico, but California, Florida, Peru and South Africa, also produce them. Hass avocados, the most common type, grow in Mexico and California and feature pebbly, purple- black skin and soft, buttery, green flesh. The larger avocados in Florida have smooth green skin and half the fat of Hass avocados. They also do not have the same delicious flavor.

Avocados, whose name comes from the Aztec word for “testicle,” have a long history. The archeologist in Peru discovered avocado pits in dating back to 750. B.C.

You don’t have to be an archeologist to discover the many health benefits of avocados. Just keep reading to find out what avocados can do for you.

Protect yourself from heart problem

Just as their yummy bumpy skin shields their yummy insides, avocados protect your heart. Thanks to a barrage of heart healthy nutrients, your heart will fall in love with avocados.

♥ Potassium- This mineral plays an important role in regulating your blood pressure. It also helps lower your risk for strokes- probably because high blood pressure ranks as stroke’s No. 1 risk factor. Good news- an avocado has more than twice compared to the potassium of bananas.

♥ Fiber- Like potassium, fiber also lowers your risk for stroke. Soluble fiber can also help lower cholesterol. Luckily, avocados contain both soluble and insoluble fiber.

♥ Folate- This Vitamin B counteracts a substance called homocysteine that increase your risk of heart disease.

♥ Monounsaturated fat- Feel free to enjoy some guacamole at your next Super Bowl party. Shying away from avocados because of their high fat content is a mistake. These high-fat, “Super Bowl” fruits actually protect your good cholesterol and fight the bad, artery-clogging kind. That’s because avocados contain mostly healthy monounsaturated fat. When you substitute monounsaturated fat for saturated fat, you can lower bad LDL cholesterol levels and boost your level of good HDL cholesterol.

♥ Vitamins C and E- These antioxidant vitamins help prevent LDL cholesterol from becoming oxidized and, hence, more dangerous. Vitamin C may also help control blood pressure.

No wonder a recent study included avocados among the important fruits and vegetable that can reduce blood pressure and protect against both heart attack and stroke.

Deal better with your diabetes

You should try to eat more avocados. In fact, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends just that. Avocados give you a generous dose of monounsaturated fat, which makes a healthy substitute for saturated fat or even carbohydrates. Because they contain little or no carbohydrates, avocados do not even have a glycemic index value. That means they have almost no effect on your blood sugar. The ADA has found that a diet high in monounsaturated fat can improve glucose tolerance and may reduce insulin resistance, which can help you better control your disease.

In addition to their many heart benefits, avocados also help with weight control, another common concern for people with diabetes. Because monounsaturated fat fills you up and keeps you satisfied longer, you are less likely to overeat.

Avoid osteoporosis with stronger bones

Avocados are a surprisingly good source of vitamin K, a vitamin K, a vitamin more commonly found in green leafy vegetable. This vitamin helps protect your bones from osteoporosis. Studies link low vitamin K intake to lower bone mass density and higher risk of fractures. As a bonus, the potassium, magnesium, and vitamin C found in avocados may also help build bone mass and prevent bone loss and fractures.

Protect your prostate from Cancer

With a name that means “testicle”, it’s no surprise avocado have a positive effect on men’s health. A UCLA lab study found that avocado extract added to two types of prostate cancer cell inhibited cell growth by up to 60 percent. Avocados have several nutrients that can explain these results. Vitamin C and vitamin E help mop up free radicals that cause cells damage, and lutein, a carotenoid found in avocados that acts as an antioxidant, has been linked to a reduced risk of prostate cancer. Other possible contributors include the phytochemicals glutathione and beta-sitosterol.

Research at Ohio State University also found that avocado phytochemicals may help fight oral cancer. They believe they may eventually be linked to other cancers as well.

Additional Tips

When choosing an avocado, test for firmness, and avoid fruits with shriveled or puckered skin. To speed up the ripening process, you can put an avocado in a paper bag. Its natural ethylene gas does the trick.

Avocado brown quickly after being cut, but drizzling lemon or lime juice on them helps prevent that. It also adds some flavor.

You can serve avocados several ways. Serve slices with cooked food, dice and mix into salads, mash to make toppings or dips, or even puree in cold soups or desserts. Just don’t cook avocados or they become bitter.

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