Did you know that avocados are actually a fruit? More surprising, they fall into the category of berries because of their fleshy pulp and seed. But regardless of how you slice it, the many health benefits of avocados may surprise you. Here’s a list of five avocado health benefits you don’t want to miss out on.
Avocados are Nutritional Powerhouses
One of the main health benefits of avocados is that they are chock-full of vitamins and other vital nutrients. Avocados are most abundant in the following vitamins: B5 and B6, C, E and K. They also contain 20 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of folate. Additionally, they contain a little protein—3 grams to be exact.
Making sure your diet contains at least five servings of nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables like avocados is a great foundation for a healthy lifestyle.
Loaded With Heart-Healthy Fats
Though nutritionists once warned people to stay away from all types of fats, avocados have now solidified their place as a health food. Not all fats are created equal and it turns out, monounsaturated fat—the kind found in olive oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds—actually has cardiovascular benefits. Used in moderation and in place of saturated and trans fats, monounsaturated fats can help with cholesterol control and aid in the prevention of heart attack and stroke. Of the 22.5 grams of fat that a medium avocado contains, more than two-thirds is heart-healthy monounsaturated fat.
Packed With Potassium
Avocados also have a fantastic potassium-to-sodium ratio—another boon for cardiovascular health. Potassium is important for a number of reasons. First, it is one of the body’s most important electrolytes. It helps maintain the cells’ electrical charge as well as their fluid balance. It also plays key roles in electrical impulses in the muscles and nerves and is involved in the regulation of heart rhythms.
Potassium also plays an important role in blood pressure regulation. While a high-sodium diet has long been recognized as a risk factor for hypertension, the relationship between low potassium levels and increased blood pressure has been virtually ignored. In a landmark study, it was proven that potassium intake equivalent to five daily portions of fresh vegetables and fruits was as effective as single-drug therapy in lowering blood pressure. Though people often associate bananas with having high potassium levels, another key avocado health benefit is that they are packed with this vital nutrient. A medium banana contains 440 milligrams while half of a medium avocado boasts 680 milligrams.
Full of Fiber
A diet rich in fiber will certainly aid in digestion but did you know it may also ward off a whole other host of health concerns including diabetes and heart disease? A fiber-filled diet can also help with weight loss, filling you up and holding you over until your next meal.
The problem is, most folks just don’t get enough. In order to reap all of the fantastic health benefits of fiber, you need to consume a minimum of 30 grams a day. Good news: a medium avocado contains about 10 grams.
Avocados May Help Lower Cholesterol
Another avocado health benefit for the heart is lower cholesterol levels. In a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, overweight or obese patients who added one avocado a day to their diet experienced an average 13.5 mg/dL drop in their “bad” LDL cholesterol. High LDL cholesterol levels are a risk for heart disease so this study further supports adding avocados to your health food arsenal.
Fun Facts and a Delicious Recipe
In addition to all of the health benefits of avocados listed above, these fruits nearly quintuple absorption of lycopene, lutein, and other protective carotenoids found in tomatoes. So eat some guacamole with your salsa. Studies also show that eating half an avocado with meals reduces hunger and blood sugar spikes in overweight people.
There are so many fabulous ways to reap the health benefits of avocados. To name just a few, avocados make salads more interesting, they are wonderful in omelets and egg scrambles, and these versatile fruits can be used in place of mayo in tuna fish, chicken, or egg salad. In short, they are one of the best foods for health you can incorporate into your diet.
I leave you with a mouth-watering avocado recipe I’m sure you’ll enjoy. Bon Appétit!
Open-Faced Avocado and Goat Cheese Sandwich
- 2 slices sprouted grain bread
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- ½ thinly sliced avocado
- 2 ounces goat cheese, thinly sliced
- ½ cup alfalfa sprouts
- 1 small, thinly sliced tomato
Lightly toast bread, trim crusts, and cut each slice into quarters. Spread mustard on the bread slices, then layer as follows: avocado, goat cheese, sprouts, and tomato slices. Serves 2.
Nutritional Facts (per serving): Calories 292; Fat 18 g; Cholesterol 30 mg; Sodium 309 mg; Carbohydrates 20 g; Fiber 4 g; Protein 13 g.