Avocado Health Benefits And Nutritional Values

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Avocado health benefits and nutritional values include it ability to support weight management, protection from heart diseases and diabetes, treating osteoarthritis, and enhancing the absorption of nutrients for the body. It also redu

ces the risk of cancer, liver damage, and vitamin K deficiency-related bleeding. Avocado helps in keeping the eyes healthy and protecting the skin from signs of aging and the harmful effects of UV rays. It also helps in maintaining blood sugar levels and has antioxidant properties. It even increases circulation, boosts cognitive abilities, and builds stronger bones.

 What Is Avocado?

The Avocado (Persea americana) is a tree, long thought to have originated in South Central Mexico, classified as a member of the flowering plant family Lauraceae. The fruit of the plant, also called an avocado (or avocado pear or alligator pear), is botanically a large berry containing a single large seed known as a “pit” or a “stone”. 

 

Avocado is a medium-sized, evergreen tree that reaches about 20-30 feet in height, and feature large, green foliage cover. It prefers fertile soil with high moisture to flourish. Small light green flowers appear during winter. In about 8-10 months time from bloom, hundreds of pear-shaped green fruits cover all over the tree.

Avocados mature on the tree but ripen only after their harvest. Once Ripen, their complexion turns from light green to deep green or purple, and yield to gentle thumb pressure. Inside, its creamy flesh has a buttery texture with bland taste yet pleasant aroma. The fruit features centrally placed single brown color seed. On an average, each fruit weighs about 300-700 g, although the sight of heavier avocados is not rare in the markets.

Avocado Nutritional Values.

A typical serving of avocado (100 g) is moderate to rich in several B vitamins and vitamin K, with good content of vitamin Cvitamin E and potassium (right table, USDA nutrient data). Avocados also contain phytosterols and carotenoids, such as lutein and zeaxanthin.

Avocados have diverse fats. For a typical avocado:

About 75% of an avocado’s energy comes from fat, most of which (67% of total fat) is monounsaturated fat as oleic acid.

Other predominant fats include palmitic acid and linoleic acid.

The saturated fat content amounts to 14% of the total fat.

Typical total fat composition is roughly: 1% ω-3, 14% ω-6, 71% ω-9 (65% oleic and 6% palmitoleic), and 14% saturated fat (palmitic acid).

See the table below for an in-depth analysis of of the nutritional values of Avocado.Nutrition profile/ 100 g(Persea americana), Refuse seed and skin. (Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)

Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of RDA
Energy 160 Kcal 8%
Carbohydrates 8.53 g 6.5%
Protein 2.0 g 3.5%
Total Fat 14.66 g 48%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 6.7 g 18%
Vitamins    
Folates 81 µg 20%
Niacin 1.738 mg 11%
Pantothenic acid 1.389 mg 28%
Pyridoxine 0.257 mg 20%
Riboflavin 0.130 mg 10%
Thiamin 0.067 mg 5.5%
Vitamin-A 146 IU 5%
Vitamin-C 10 mg 17%
Vitamin-E 2.07 mg 14%
Vitamin-K 21 µg 17.5%
Electrolytes    
Sodium 7 mg 0.5%
Potassium 485 mg 10%
Minerals    
Calcium 12 mg 1%
Copper 0.190 mg 21%
Iron 0.55 mg 7%
Magnesium 29 mg 7%
Manganese 0.142 mg 6%
Phosphorus 52 mg 7%
Selenium 0.4 µg <1%
Zinc 0.64 mg 6%
Phyto-nutrients    
Carotene-&alpha 24 µg
Carotene-ß 62 µg
Cryptoxanthin-ß 28 µg
Lutein-zeaxanthin 271 µg
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Diabetes Management:

Diabetes control is tough, with not many foods offering decent support. Many people try to find better carbohydrate sources, but often that alone is insufficient. However, avocados are not your average carbohydrate heavy fruit, as they contain lots of good fat, which acts to slow the absorption of sugar into the blood stream. Since type 2 diabetics also have poor insulin sensitivities, it is a good course of action to slow down the speed of absorption to allow insulin a greater time to process the carbs.

Heart Health:

There are multiple nutrients in avocados that make them the one fruit for your heart. 

Avocado fiber, reduces blood pressure, balances the cholesterol levels, and improves the body’s sensitivity to insulin. Every 100 g of the fruit contains 6.7 g fiber.

Oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA) in avocados and olive oil, help the heart by making the body more sensitive to insulin and using glucose properly. It also arrests the progress of atherosclerosis in blood vessels – atherosclerosis is a dangerous condition where the blood vessels are clogged by fat deposits which hinder blood flow.

Avocados have more potassium than sodium, which is good news for the heart since potassium lowers blood pressure, while sodium raises it. Every 100 g avocado has 485 mg potassium and 7 mg sodium. Potassium is also important for normal heart function as it aids skeletal and smooth muscle contraction. Having more potassium can actually help patients of high blood pressure and lower the risk of strokes by 24%.

Vitamin K Deficiency:

A vitamin K deficiency is not very common but is frequently seen in neonatal care. It may lead to a bleeding disorder known as vitamin K deficiency-related bleeding (VKDB). This occurs mostly due to an insufficient intake of vitamin K during pregnancy. The inclusion of avocado in the diet of a pregnant woman may help in lowering risk of VKDB in the newborn child since avocados are one of the rare fruits that have a very high amount of vitamin K (almost 40% of the daily requirement in a single serving!)

Morning Sickness:

During pregnancy, morning sickness is very common. Avocados help overcome nausea and queasiness during pregnancy since it contains vitamin B6, which is commonly connected to reducing nausea and vomiting.

Treats Arthritis:

The anti-inflammatory properties of avocados are perhaps its most valuable attribute, and between the wide range of phytochemicals, flavonoids, carotenoids, phytosterols, fatty alcohols, and omega-3 fatty acids it contains, avocados are one of the best foods for reducing the inflammation in tissues, joints, and muscles. Arthritis affects tens of millions of people around the world, and by consuming a proper amount of avocados, studies have frequently shown the symptoms and associated pain of arthritis can be efficiently reduced.

Anti-cancer Properties:

Health benefits of avocados include a lower risk of cancers, including breast cancer and prostate cancer. Avocado contains carotenoids and monounsaturated fat, both of which contribute to the significant reduction of cancer. Avocado also contains Glutathione, an antioxidant that protects the cells from cancer and the dangerous effects of free radicals.

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The list of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds in avocados is impressive, and it is almost difficult to determine which one has the largest impact. Studies have been widely done on oral, skin, and prostate cancers, and the results show that instead of metastasizing, the organic compounds in avocados cause cancerous cells to undergo apoptosis (automatic cell death). Research is still ongoing on the relationship between avocados and cancer.

Antioxidant Properties:

Avocado contains both vitamin C and E, which help enhance the antioxidant properties of the human body. Vitamin C recycles vitamin E and helps reduce the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. Avocado also contains antioxidants like epicatechin, violaxanthin, neochrome, and about a dozen others. Antioxidants neutralize the effects of free radicals, the dangerous byproducts of cellular metabolism. They are responsible for dozens of serious conditions in the body, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, vision problems, premature aging, cognitive disorders, and many more.

Reduces Bad Cholesterol:

High cholesterol is a dangerous condition that raises your risk for several diseases, including heart attacks. But not all cholesterol is bad. While LDL cholesterol is harmful, HDL cholesterol is actually good for your health. It also helps remove the extra LDLs. People with high cholesterol also have a fat called triglycerides, too much of which is also a red flag. 

Though a fatty fruit, avocados can raise the HDL levels and reduce the LDLs and triglycerides in people who have abnormal lipid profiles – that is cholesterol and triglyceride counts. In fact, one small study on overweight and obese participants (overweight is often a sign of abnormal lipid levels) found that

  • a moderate-fat diet with avocados lowered LDL cholesterol by 13.5 mg/dl
  • a moderate-fat diet without avocados lowered LDL cholesterol by 8.3 mg/dl
  • a low-fat diet that didn’t consist of avocados lowered LDL cholesterol by 7.4 mg/dl8

What this shows is that not only should you have heart-healthy fats, like in fish, you should also add avocado to your daily diet.

Aids in Digestion:

It is believed that avocados are soothing for the intestine and therefore aid in digestion.  They contain soluble and insoluble fibers that help to keep the digestive system running smoothly. These types of fiber are very important for digestion because they bulk up stools and help ensure the smooth passage of food through the intestinal tract.

Furthermore, they stimulate gastric and digestive juices so nutrients are absorbed in the most efficient and rapid way. Finally, they reduce the symptoms from conditions like constipation and diarrhea. All in all, the huge amount of fiber found in avocados (40% of daily requirement per serving) makes this a very important food for optimizing your digestive health.

Dental Care:

Consumption of avocados also helps in preventing bad breath, which is primarily caused due to indigestion or an upset stomach. Halitosis can be eliminated by improving digestive health, and the antibacterial and antioxidant flavonoids found in avocados also kill the bacteria in your mouth that can result in bad breath. Avocados have also been connected with preventing oral cancers.

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Skin and Hair Care:

Avocados are packed with nutrients that are beneficial for maintaining healthy skin. It enriches skin that is dry, chapped or damaged. They are added to a variety of cosmetics due to their ability to nourish the skin with essential vitamins and make it glow. It is also used for nourishing dry and damaged hair. Many people use avocados to prepare skin and hair masks. Above all, avocado oil helps in treating plaque psoriasis. 

Beta-carotene and lycopene are two major compounds found in large quantities in avocados. Both of these have been connected to improving the health and tone of your skin and eliminating signs of premature aging.

 Improving Eye Health:

Avocados boost absorption of nutrients that are important to good health, but are also rich in the eyes’ preferred anti-oxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin. These anti-oxidants have demonstrated the ability to reduce the development of cataracts, slow down degeneration of the muscles and nerves of the eyes, and can improve night vision. These become even more important the older we get.

Folic Acid:

Folic acid is important for DNA replication in all humans, but is even more important during pregnancy. It is advised that all women consume a supplement enhanced with folic acid, but avocados are an excellent source. Folic acid helps prevent the development of deformities in the womb, such as a condition called spina bifida.

Promote Healthy Liver Function:

The liver is one of your most important organs. Even though it is self-regenerating, that does not mean that you can take it for granted. The best way to support your hard working liver is to help it function optimally. Avocados can help reduce symptoms of fatty liver disease that are caused by elevated cholesterol and blood triglycerides as well.  In addition, avocados can boost synthesis of the body’s most powerful anti-oxidant glutathione to help safeguard you from free radicals.

Kidney Health:

Diet plays a very important role in maintaining the balance of minerals and fluids in those who suffer from chronic kidney disorders. Potassium is one of the minerals that help in maintaining a normal heart rate. Avocados are a good source of potassium and their inclusion in your diet may provide other benefits as well.

It is important to make sure that potassium levels are not too high as that can also be dangerous for the heart. Potassium is a key aspect of maintaining fluid balance through chemical channels for cells and organs. This balance of fluid is also vital for the functioning of the kidney, which handles the movement of fluid and toxins through the body.

Toxicity to animals:

Avocado leaves, bark, skin, or pit are documented to be harmful to animals; cats, dogs, cattle, goats, rabbits, rats, guinea pigs, birds, fish, and horses can be severely harmed or even killed when they consume them. The avocado fruit is poisonous to some birds, and to horses.

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