The avocado tree, also known as Persea americana, is a member of the laurel family and can grow between 30–40 feet tall. It has greenish-yellow flowers and produces a single-seeded berry known as the avocado. There are different types of avocados.
Each avocado is rich in fiber, vitamin K, folate, vitamin C and potassium, along with a good amount of heart-healthy fats and minimal avocado carbs.
According to study, about 136grams without the skin and seed contains the following:
- 227 calories
- 11.8 grams carbohydrates
- 2.7 grams protein
- 21 grams fat
- 9.2 grams fiber
- 28.6 micrograms vitamin K (36 percent Daily Value)
- 121 micrograms folate (30 percent DV)
- 12 milligrams vitamin C (20 percent DV)
- 0.4 milligrams vitamin B6 (20 percent DV)
- 2 milligrams pantothenic acid (20 percent DV)
- 689 milligrams potassium (20 percent DV)
- 2.7 milligrams vitamin E (13 percent DV)
- 2.6 milligrams niacin (13 percent DV)
- 0.2 milligrams copper (12 percent DV)
- 0.2 milligrams riboflavin (11 percent DV)
- 39.4 milligrams magnesium (10 percent DV)
- 0.2 milligrams manganese (10 percent DV)
- 0.1 milligram thiamine (7 percent DV)
- 73.4 milligrams phosphorus (7 percent DV)
- 0.9 milligrams zinc (6 percent DV)
- 0.8 milligrams iron (5 percent DV)
- 200 international units vitamin A (4 percent DV)
It is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids, choline, betaine, calcium and selenium.
Scientific Studies on Health Benefit
Support Heart Health
According to studies, avocados (and particularly avocado oil ) promote heart health by balancing blood lipids. With regards to its chemical composition, the avocado fat content is about 71 percent monounsaturated fatty acids, 13 percent polyunsaturated fatty acids and 16 percent saturated fatty acids . Diets that are moderately high in healthy fats — especially monounsaturated fat, or MUFAs — are known to block plaque buildup in the arteries more effectively than diets high in insulin-spiking carbohydrates. Dreher & Davenport,2013, agrees that, apart from the fat content, the fiber in avocado and the presence of beta-sitosterol compounds, magnesium and potassium may also help reduce cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
Ledesma et al, 1996, study demonstrates in clinical studies evaluated avocado-enriched diet to both healthy adults and people with high cholesterol and examined the results. After just one week, the result revealed that, the healthy people with normal lipid levels after eating avocados their total cholesterol levels dropped 16 percent. The results observed in the high-cholesterol group were even more insightful. Not only did total cholesterol drop 17 percent, but so did LDLs (22 percent) and triglycerides (22 percent), while their levels of good HDL cholesterol actually increased by 11 percent.
Decreases Risk of Metabolic Syndrome
Some other avocado health benefits include help with high blood sugar, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity and excess belly fat.
One study conducted by Fulgoni et al, 2013, examined the eating habits of 17,567 U.S. adults over a seven-year period. The result proved that people who ate avocados regularly tended to have a more balanced and better quality diet than non-avocado consumers, plus a higher intake of fruits, veggies, healthy fats fat and fiber. Consumption of avocados was also linked to a lower body weight, body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference, as well as higher levels of good HDL cholesterol . Researchers also found that those who ate the avocados were 50 percent less likely to develop metabolic syndrome than non-consumers.
Supports Eye, Skin and Hair Health
One of the avocado benefits for skin is being nature’s best moisturizer, and that being completely free from added synthetic chemicals. Avocados are high-antioxidant foods that contain lutein , a type of carotenoid that protects eye health and preserves healthy, youthful-looking skin and hair. Carotenoids are a group of antioxidant phytochemicals found in veggies like carrots, squash and sweet potatoes that are known for blocking the effects of environmental toxins like pollution and UV light damage. One notable study conducted by Johnson, 2002, demonstrates that dietary carotenoids provide health benefits related to disease prevention, particularly certain cancers of the skin and age-related eye disorders like macular degeneration. Lutein appears to be beneficial for eye health because it absorbs the type of damaging blue light rays that enter the eyes and skin, changing DNA and causing free radical damage. Unlu et al, 2005, study further agrees that adding avocado to a meal can help boost carotenoid absorption.
Fights Cancer Cell Growth
Ding et al, 2009, study of an in vitro for instance, which claimed that the phytochemicals in avocados are so powerful that they could help kill off oral cancer cells was taken up by Researchers from Ohio State University for further investigation. D'Ambrosio et al, 2011, study proves that the specific phytonutrient combination found within each avocado may hold the key to its anticancer effects.
Another study by Paul et al, 2011, demonstrates that phytochemicals extracted from avocados help induce cell cycle arrest, inhibit growth and promote apoptosis in precancerous and cancer cell lines. Studies indicate that avocado phytochemicals extracted with 50 percent methanol help in proliferation of human lymphocyte cells and decrease chromosomal changes.
Another reason that avocados are being linked to reduced risks for both cancer and diabetes is their content of monounsaturated fatty acids . These have been demonstrated in a study by Simonsen et al, 1998, to provide better protection against chronic disease compared to other types of fatty acids because of their ability to lower inflammation.
Another study by Sayeed et al 2015 asserts that Beta-sitosterol, another compound found in avocados, is also highly protective of the prostate and linked to better immune function and lower prostate cancer risk.
Promotes Weight Loss
Diets lower in carbohydrates and higher in healthy fats are known to accelerate weight loss — so if you are looking to lose weight fast , avocados are your friend. Fats are super filling and increase satiety hormones that help you eat less overall. They also allow you to go longer between meals without getting hungry to help prevent overeating, snacking and sugar addiction . That’s one reason why increasing MUFAs in the diet is related to better weight management and healthier BMI status.
Study by Pieterse et al, 2005, with the aim to dispel the myth that avocados are fattening and therefore should be avoided in energy-restricted diets. They examined the effects of avocados, a rich source of calories coming from monounsaturated fatty acids, as part of an energy-restricted diet. They found that consumption of 30 grams a day of fat from avocado within an energy-restricted diet didn’t compromise weight loss at all when substituted for 30 grams a day of mixed dietary fats. The diet high in avocados resulted in significant weight loss in addition to other health improvements. Measurements including body mass, body mass index and percentage of body fat decreased significantly in both groups during the study, but only the avocado group experienced positive changes in fatty acid blood serum levels, demonstrating that there are clearly avocado benefits for weight loss.
Enhances Digestive Health
Link, 2019, agrees that, avocados are one of the best fruit sources of fiber. Depending on the size of the avocado, one whole fruit contains between 11–17 grams of fiber, which is more than nearly any other fruit and most servings of vegetables, grains and beans too. High-fiber foods are important for anyone with digestive tract issue because fiber helps shift the balance of bacteria in the gut, increasing healthy bacteria while decreasing the unhealthy bacteria that can be the root of some digestive disorders. Fiber also helps add bulk to stool, supports regularity, and helps pull waste and toxins through the intestines and colon.
Fats are also essential for digestion and nutrient absorption because they nourish the lining of the gut. A low-fat diet can result in constipation or symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which is a disorder of the gastrointestinal tract characterized by abdominal pain and change in bowel habits.
Protects Against Insulin Resistance and Diabetes
Paniagua et al, 2007, is of the view that, a MUFA-rich diet can improve fasting insulin levels in insulin-resistant subjects. “Eating plenty of MUFA-dense foods may also help decrease blood sugar levels and insulin concentrations for hours compared with carbohydrate-rich meals. Consumption of dietary MUFAs promotes healthy blood lipid profiles, mediates blood pressure, improves insulin sensitivity and regulates glucose levels, all while preventing obesity and oxidative damage to the cells”, says, Link, 2019.
According to Axe, 2018, Fatty acids play an important role in regulating central nervous system functions and cognitive processes because they impact neurotransmitter levels and help balance hormones naturally . As a consequence, your mood can also improve when you eat enough healthy fats. That means you can add mental well-being aid to the list of avocado benefits.
However, Villegas et al, 2011, recommends that consuming trans fats may be linked with a higher risk of depression, the opposite is true of natural MUFAs. In other words, higher-fat diets might lower depression, anxiety and other mental disorder risks because they facilitate proper thought processing, hormone production and stress reduction mechanisms within the brain.
Decreases Arthritis Symptoms
According to the Arthritis Foundation, arthritis affects up to 50 million adults and 300,000 children around the world. Some studies suggest that avocado benefits certain symptoms of arthritis. DiNubile, 2010, study asserts that specific compounds extracted from avocado oil may help decrease symptoms of osteoarthritis, which is considered the most common form of arthritis.
Risks and Side Effects
Link, 2019, agrees that, when consumed in moderation, avocado can be a nutritious and delicious addition to a balanced diet. However, there are some people who may need to limit their consumption of this superstar fruit:
“For example, those with kidney problems are often advised to follow a low-potassium diet. That’s because eating high amounts can cause potassium levels to rise in the body when the kidneys aren’t working properly. Because of the high amount of avocado potassium packed into each serving, it may be best to keep intake to a minimum and opt for other foods low in potassium instead”.
Although uncommon, some people may also have an avocado allergy, which can cause food allergy symptoms like hives, itching and swelling. Those with a latex allergy should also be mindful about eating avocados, as the cross-reactivity can trigger an allergic reaction in some cases.
Finally, keep in mind that, despite the many avocado benefits, more is not always better. In fact, there are a high amount of calories in avocado, so going overboard could potentially lead to weight gain, especially if you’re not making other adjustments in your diet to account for these extra calories.
Avocados are also high in fiber, which can be beneficial in moderation. However, increasing fiber intake too quickly can lead to digestive issues like constipation, gas and bloating. Start slow and stick to one to two servings per day. Additionally, be sure to drink plenty of water, which can help mitigate side effects of increased fiber intake and promote regularity.
- Avocados are a delicious and nutritious fruit cultivated around the globe.
- They are highly nutritious, and each serving contains a good amount of avocado fiber, plus healthy fats, potassium, vitamin K, folate and vitamin C. These account for the many avocado benefits.
- Are avocados good for you? Potential benefits of avocado include improved heart health, increased weight loss, enhanced digestive health and better blood sugar levels. Avocado benefits may also include the ability to help improve mood; support eye, skin and hair health; fight cancer cell growth; and reduce the risk of arthritis and metabolic syndrome.
- Avocados are also easy to use and can be incorporated into a variety of recipes. Try making an avocado dressing, avocado dip or avocado tuna salad.
- Enjoy a few servings per week as part of a well-rounded diet to reap the rewards of this incredible ingredient.
The writer is on a mission to provide you and your family with the highest quality nutrition tips, scientific herbs and healthy recipes in the world.
DISCLAIMER This post is for enlightenment purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for professional diagnosis and treatments. Remember to always consult your healthcare provider before making any health-related decisions or for counselling, guidance and treatment about a specific medical condition.
The writer is an honorary Professor of Holistic Medicine & Naturopathic Physician-Vinnytsia State Pedagogical University, Ukraine. President, Nyarkotey College of Holistic Medicine and currently, LLB law student. Contact: 0241083423/0541234556
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