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Avocados have been growing in the tropical regions of the Americas since as far back as 10,000 BC. (1) Mexico is thought to be the original location of the plant and produces the largest yield of avocado to this day. (1)
Avocados have made their way around the world and are now grouped into three classes: Mexican, Guatemalan, and West Indies. (1)
The versatility of this fruit makes it easy to add to a variety of foods you are already eating, such as salads and sandwiches. By consuming avocado, you can help balance your diet and improve your health.
Nutritional Content of Avocado
What makes avocados so healthy is their abundant nutrients such as fiber, vitamins C and B6, potassium, and monounsaturated fatty acids. (2) These nutrients contribute to improved health outcomes, including heart health, weight management, and digestion, to name a few.
Avocado is a great source of fiber. Fiber is the indigestible part of plants that is categorized into soluble and insoluble. (3) Both types of fiber contribute to health in different ways. Half of a large avocado contains approximately 7.5 g of fiber.
Health Benefits of Avocado
Here are the advantages of including avocados in your diet:
1. Reduce the risk of chronic diseases
Avocados contain vitamin C, an antioxidant, which means it helps to reduce inflammation in the body. (2) Excessive inflammation contributes to chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease. The fiber in avocados helps with cardiovascular health.
2. Maintain blood pH level
Potassium is another nutrient that is high in avocado. (2) It is an electrolyte; thus, it helps with fluid and acid-base balance. This means it helps keep the pH of the blood within the normal range.
3. Aid digestion
Avocados can improve your gastrointestinal function in multiple ways, thereby facilitating smooth digestion. They contain vitamin B complex, which stimulates the release of digestive enzymes that help break down food for better nutrient absorption and easy bowel movement.
Plus, avocados are replete with both soluble and insoluble fiber, which aid digestion. (3) The combination of these fibers helps keep things moving in your intestines and form stool and also contributes to the balance of healthy bacteria in your gut.
4. Regulate the immune system
Avocados contain monounsaturated fats that are known to improve the absorption of vitamins A, D, and E, since all of them are fat soluble. These vitamins are then used by the body to boost immunity.
The β-sitosterol in avocados was also shown to play a key role in strengthening the immune system. (3) During the cold and flu season, many people take vitamin C supplements because this essential nutrient is important for immune system support.
5. Nourish the skin
Avocados contain a heavy dose of monounsaturated fats, which are considered healthy fats that are especially great for your skin. This type of fat adds volume and hydration to the skin’s structural barrier, making it stronger.
A stronger structural barrier implies that your epidermal layer (topmost skin layer) can hold moisture for a longer time. Well-hydrated skin is more elastic and thereby less prone to tearing.
Avocados are high in antioxidants such as carotenoids, vitamin C, and vitamin E, which protect the skin from “free radicals” that cause skin damage and premature aging. (4) The vitamin C in avocados also contributes to collagen formation, making it essential in wound healing and tissue repair.
Avocado oil can promote collagen synthesis and decrease the number of inflammatory cells during the wound-healing process and may thus be considered an alternative option for the treatment of skin wounds. (5)
6. Aid weight loss
Even though avocados are loaded with fats and calories, (6) they are considered good for weight management. This is largely due to their high content of L-carnitine and fibers.
7. Improve heart health
Soluble fiber supports heart health by lowering the levels of LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream.
Another nutrient in avocado that has been shown to improve heart health is monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). These fatty acids can also help to lower LDL cholesterol (7) and improve the function of blood vessels.
High levels of cholesterol are harmful because, over time, it builds up in your arteries and creates what is called plaque. The presence of too much plaque in your arteries puts you at risk for heart attack and stroke.
Moreover, the high potassium content of avocados, which supersedes that of bananas, is also good for regulating blood pressure and thereby preserving cardiovascular health. Potassium helps balance sodium levels (8) in the body, thus deterring cholesterol absorption.
ALSO READ: 13 Foods That Keep Your Heart Healthy
8. Reduce depression
Avocado is full of folate, which may help improve your mental health and curb depression by promoting the growth of healthy gut bacteria.
9. Assist in making red blood cells
Vitamin B6 is high in avocado. It is another antioxidant but is also very important for helping the body break down the foods you eat.
Vitamin B6 is a big part of fat, carbohydrate, and protein metabolism and also helps in the formation of red blood cells. Because of this, vitamin B6 contributes to your energy level by making the nutrients you eat usable in your body and assisting in the transport of oxygen. (9)
Precautions to Consider
There is no specific amount of avocado that is recommended in your diet. However, it is important to acknowledge that it is high in fat. Even though the fat in avocados is considered healthy fat, it does contain a lot of calories and can contribute to weight gain if consumed in excess.
Avocados are popular not only because they are delicious and versatile but also because they offer many health benefits. The benefits include improved heart health, good digestion, and weight management. When added to a balanced diet, avocados can contribute to a healthy lifestyle.