The Health Benefits of Avocado

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Fruit for Thought: Avocado

Yes my friends, Avocado is a fruit.

Botanical name: Persea Americana; also known as “alligator pear”.

Native to: Central Mexico, classified in the flowering plant family Lauraceae along with cinnamon, camphor and bay laurel. The oldest evidence of avocado use was found in a cave located in Coxcatlán, Puebla, Mexico, that dates to around 10,000 BC. The word “avocado” comes from the Spanish aguacate which in turn comes from the Nahuatl word āhuacatl [aː’wakat͡ɬ], which goes back to the proto-Aztecan “pa:wa” with the same meaning.

Description: Commonly referred to as a fruit (botanically a large berry that contains a single seed of the tree). They have a rough thin outer shell, a green creamy and fleshy body that may be pear-shaped, egg-shaped, or spherical. They ripen after harvesting, same as bananas. Trees are partially self-pollinating and often are propagated through grafting to maintain a predictable quality and quantity of the fruit. The tree grows to 20 m (66 ft).

Avocados are packed with disease-fighting antioxidants, nutrients and heart-healthy compounds.

Top 10 Benefits of Avocados:

1. Avocados are packed with carotenoids

Avocados are a great source of lutein, a carotenoid that works as an antioxidant and helps protect against eye disease. They also contain the related carotenoids zeaxanthin, alpha-carotene and beta-carotene, as well as tocopherol (vitamin E). 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 lycopene and beta carotene) than those who didn’t include avocados. Carotenoids are lipophilic (soluble in fat, not water), so eating carotenoid-packed foods like fruits and vegetables along with monounsaturated-fat-rich avocados helps your body absorb the carotenoids. Easily done, slice it and serve on top of any dish!

2. Avocados can help you lose weight

Half an avocado contains 3.4 grams of fibre, including soluble and insoluble, both of which your body needs to keep the digestive system running smoothly. Plus, soluble fibre slows the breakdown of carbohydrates in your body, helping you feel full for longer. Avocados also contain oleic acid, a fat that activates the part of your brain that makes you feel full. Healthier unsaturated fats containing oleic acid have been shown to produce a greater feeling of satiety than less-healthy saturated fats and trans fats found in processed foods.

3. Avocados can help stabilize blood sugar

Rich, creamy, and packed with beneficial monounsaturated fat, avocado slows digestion and helps keep blood sugar from spiking after a meal. A diet high in good fats may even help reverse insulin resistance, which translates to steadier blood sugar long-term. Try mashed avocado on sandwiches instead of mayonnaise or on bread instead of butter. To keep what’s left over from turning brown, do not remove its seed, coat with lemon juice, place in a glass container and refrigerate.

4. Avocados can protect your unborn baby—and your heart

One cup of avocado provides almost a quarter of your recommended daily intake of folate, a vitamin which cuts the risk of birth defects. If you’re pregnant—or planning to be—avocados will help protect your unborn baby. A high folate intake is also associated with a lower risk of heart attacks and heart disease.

5. Avocados can help lower your cholesterol

As well as increasing feelings of fullness, the oleic acid in avocados can help reduce cholesterol levels. In one study, individuals eating an avocado-rich diet had a significant decrease in total cholesterol levels, including a decrease in LDL cholesterol. Their levels of HDL cholesterol (the healthy type) increased by 11 percent.

High cholesterol is one of the main risk factors for heart disease. The cholesterol-lowering properties of avocado, along with its folate content, help keep your heart healthy. 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 keep your heart healthy.

Avocados are the best fruit source of vitamin E, an essential vitamin that protects against many diseases and helps maintains overall health.

6. 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.

7. Breast Cancer Protection

Avocado, like olive oil, is high in oleic acid, which has been shown to prevent breast cancer in numerous studies.

8. 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.

9. Glutathione Source

Avocados are an excellent source of glutathione, an antioxidant that researchers say is important in preventing aging, cancer, and heart disease.

10. Skin Care

Avocados are Mother Nature’s natural skin moisturizer. With their healthy fats and phytonutrients, they offer remarkable benefits to human skin — both when eaten and when used topically.

LilyPod’s Ultra Healthy Avocado Shake Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • Half an avocado
  • 4 strawberries
  • Half a cup of goat’s yogurt
  • 3 tbsp of tahini
  • 1 cup of almond coconut milk
  • Dash of maple syrup (add more to taste)
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • Dash of gomasio (optional protein)


Next Article

The Herb Purslane Is A Nutritional Powerhouse

The lovely, moist succulent known as purslane, is 93% water, features dark magenta stems, and rich green, rounded leaves. Also known as Portulaca oleracea, this nutritious, edible weed has collected some colorful nicknames over the years, including: little hogweed, pigweed, and fatweed.

A first-century historian named “Pliny the Elder” suggested that Romans used purslane as the primary vegetable during dinners and as a crunchy addition to salads. Some 18th-century French farmers were known to hate the plant, saying “it’s a mischievous weed meant for pigs.” The herb can be found in Africa, North America, Asia, and Australia. 

Some say that Europe is purslane’s native home, but given its succulence, it most likely originated nearer to deserts. The plant has been native to India, Greece, and Persia for centuries, but may have first appeared in North Africa some 4,000 years ago. Some archeologists suggest the plant is prehistoric. Slightly sour and infused with nuanced flavors akin to watercress and spinach, the fleshy purslane is loved by millions throughout the world. 

This jade-like plant can be sautéed, juiced, boiled, pickled, drenched in butter, or featured in a delicious salad with oil, salt, and vinegar. It’s a versatile weed that can be grabbed from the Earth and immediately consumed. As it’s often found in plentiful heaps strewn across the countryside, the plant is easy to grow and has provided helpful sustenance throughout the ages, especially during times of famine.

“I have made a satisfactory dinner on several accounts, simply off a dish of purslane, which I gathered in my cornfield, boiled, and salted.” — Henry Thoreau

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