The Health Benefits of Avocado


By: Gaia Staff  |  March 14, 2013

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)

 

Lilamaya (Liliana Galvis)

Liliana was born in Bogota, Colombia, South America. She moved to Canada at the age of 15 where she studied and later established herself as a fitness professional. She studied at the University of Ottawa followed by training in sports therapy specializing in massage and remedial bodywork at Raworth College of Natural and Sports Therapies, in Surrey, England. Determined to learn more, in 2009 Liliana immersed herself in the studies of Ayurveda (The ancient Hindu science of health and medicine).
Yoga and Pilates were a natural progression for Liliana after being an instructor, dancer, personal trainer and educator.
Ayurveda (from the Sanskrit word ‘yurveda’, meaning  ‘yu’, life, health, combined with ‘veda’, knowledge, lore) is an integral part of the great system of Vedic knowledge – which states that all universe is”ONE SELF”, and that the key to cosmic knowledge lies within our own minds and hearts.                                                                                              
Liliana’s Ayurvedic training took place at The Art of Living North American ashram situated in Quebec, Canada, one of only a select few institutions in the Americas that offer traditional and practical training in this ancient discipline.
Initially trained in Hatha yoga, Liliana has been studying and following a series of different practices combined with remedial bodywork for 12 years both in Canada and England.   
Liliana is known for her clear communication skills that she employs in her classes and her retreats as well as on television.   She has worked professionally as a co-host for the internationally acclaimed fitness TV show, “Kardio knockout”, which aired in over 150 different countries around the globe. 
Amongst many other hobbies, she enjoys photography and writing. She currently freelances as a writer for Yoga Magazine based in London (UK) along with a variety of health and wellness publications in Canada. 
Focusing more on a holistic approach to her teaching style, she has merged different disciplines of the east and west into a powerful and challenging vinyasa flow class which can be adapted and modified depending on the level of the participant yogi.
Her love for movement and wellness continues to develop and her practice grows and evolves with each experience along the journey of life.
Personal Motto: “Learn – Share – Inspire”
Website: Lily Pod Yoga
Blog: Lilypodyoga.wordpress.com
Facebook: Lily Pod Yoga Ayurveda
Twitter:  @LilyPodYoga

LinkedIn: Liliana Galvis


 

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