Tuesday, August 9, 2022

5 Potential Health Benefits of Avocado

 5 Potential Health Benefits of Avocado

 

Nutritious, versatile, and delicious, avocados have become a kitchen staple in many homes around the world.

While some people refer to avocados as fruits and some people say they’re a vegetable, avocados (Persea americana) are actually considered berries. They’re a member of the Lauraceae plant family, which also includes the cinnamon tree (1Trusted Source).

Avocados are native to Mexico and Central America, but they are cultivated in many areas of the world, including North America.

In the United States, California is the top producer of avocados and is home to more than 5,000 avocado farms, which generate over 400 million pounds of avocados each year (2).

These fruits are an important part of traditional Mexican, Central American, and South American cuisine and are used in dishes like guacamole, salads, tacos, and more.

Avocados are extremely popular in the health and wellness world because they’re highly nutritious and have been linked to several health benefits.


This article lists 7 benefits of eating avocados, including more about nutrition, weight loss, and how to enjoy them.


1. Excellent source of nutrients 

Avocados are high in a number of important nutrients, many of which are lacking in modern diets.

Here is the nutrition breakdown for a 7-ounce (201-gram) avocado (3Trusted Source):

Calories: 322

Fat: 30 grams

Protein: 4 grams

Carbs: 17 grams

Fiber: 14 grams

Vitamin C: 22% of the daily value (DV)

Vitamin E: 28% of the DV

Vitamin K: 35% of the DV

Vitamin K: 35% of the DV

Riboflavin (B2): 20% of the DV

Niacin (B3): 22% of the DV

Pantothenic acid (B5): 56% of the DV

Pyridoxine (B6): 30% of the DV

Folate: 41% of the DV

Magnesium: 14% of the DV

Potassium: 21% of the DV

Copper: 42% of the DV

Manganese: 12% of the DV

As you can see, avocados are exceptionally nutritious fruits and are a concentrated source of healthy fats and fiber, plus a number of vitamins and minerals. 

As you can see, avocados are exceptionally nutritious fruits and are a concentrated source of healthy fats and fiber, plus a number of vitamins and minerals.

They’re rich in nutrients that are often lacking in many people’s diets, including magnesium, B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, and folate (4Trusted Source).

For example, half of an avocado packs 10% of the DV for potassium.

Potassium is considered a “nutrient of public health concern” by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This is because it’s a mineral that Americans commonly do not consume enough of (5Trusted Source).

In fact, a study that included data on 4,730 U.S. adults found that fewer than 3% had potassium intakes greater than the set adequate intake for potassium of 4,700 mg per day (6Trusted Source).

Potassium is needed for several critical bodily functions, including blood pressure regulation and nervous system function. Getting the recommended amount of potassium on a daily basis may help protect against hypertension and stroke (7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source).

Avocados also provide nutrients that are essential for the health of the immune system, including vitamin C, B6, and E (9Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source).

Half of an avocado provides 15% of your daily needs for B6, a nutrient that helps suppress inflammation and protect against oxidative damage. Inadequate B6 intake may negatively impact immune function and increase susceptibility to illness (9Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source).

While severe B6 deficiency is rare, having suboptimal or slightly deficient levels is more common, even in the United States and Canada  

Avocados contain an abundance of nutrients that are essential for optimal health, and regularly consuming avocados could help improve overall diet quality.


2. Beneficial for gut health 

Avocados are high in fiber, providing about 14 grams in each avocado. That’s nearly half of the current DV for this important nutrient (3Trusted Source).

Getting enough fiber in your diet is essential for the health of the digestive system because it helps promote the growth of healthy bacteria.

A study with 163 adults considered overweight found that people who consumed 175 grams (men) or 140 grams (women) of avocado daily for 12 weeks had lower fecal bile acid concentrations and increased bacterial diversity compared to a control group (14Trusted Source).

Greater bile acid concentrations induce intestinal inflammation and are related to the growth of microbes associated with negative health outcomes like colon cancer (15Trusted Source).

Additionally, the avocado group had more of the bacteria Faecalibacterium, Lachnospira, and Alistipes, all of which produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), including butyrate.


3. May help reduce heart disease risk factors

Regularly consuming nutrient-dense foods like avocados could help protect against heart disease.

The vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and fiber found in avocados all play a role in keeping the cardiovascular system healthy.

Study findings suggest that an avocado-rich diet may help improve heart disease risk factors, which may help prevent the onset of heart disease.

Many studies investigating the effects of avocados on heart health were funded by the Hass Avocado Board. Even though this doesn’t discredit study findings, some experts suggest that industry involvement in peer-reviewed research could skew results (19Trusted Source).

Nonetheless, avocados may help increase heart-protective HDL cholesterol and decrease levels of oxidized LDL cholesterol, a type of cholesterol that’s significantly associated with atherosclerosis, or the buildup of plaque along artery walls (20Trusted Source, 21Trusted Source).


4. A rich source of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds 

In addition to vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and fiber, avocados are packed with bioactive compounds including carotenoids, vitamin C, vitamin E, and phenolic compounds (23Trusted Source).

These substances have been shown to have significant antioxidant, neuroprotective, and cardioprotective activities.

For example, carotenoids found in avocados including lutein, α-Carotene, and β-Carotene have been shown to have strong antioxidant effects, protecting against oxidative damage, which is associated with the progression of many chronic diseases (24Trusted Source).

Because avocados are high in antioxidants, regularly eating avocados may help increase the body’s antioxidant defenses.

A small study that included 45 people found that eating an avocado a day increased blood levels of the carotenoid lutein compared with a typical Western diet without avocado (20Trusted Source).


5. May help promote a healthy body weight

Although there are multiple factors that influence weight, following a nutritious and balanced diet is perhaps most important when it comes to reaching and maintaining a healthy body weight, which is critical for disease prevention.

Although avocados are high in calories, they’re packed with nutrients and help promote satiety, thanks to their high fiber and healthy fat content.

Research shows that following a dietary pattern rich in fibrous foods, like fruits and vegetables, may help support weight loss. Plus, people who eat more fiber tend to maintain healthier body weights compared to those who follow lower fiber diets (30Trusted Source, 31Trusted Source).

In a study that included 345 people, it was found that fiber intake was the most influential predictor of body weight, independent of calorie and macronutrient intake (32Trusted Source).


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