The Top 5 Health Benefits of Avocados
Avocados are by far my favorite fruit. They aren’t high in sugar, they are a wonderful moisturizer for the skin and above all things, they just taste fantastic. Contrary to popular belief, they are very, very versatile in cooking — there are so many things you can do with avocados that doesn’t involve guacamole (although, guac is definitely one of my favorites!).
Below are just some of the health benefits of avocados. I’ve outlined the top 5 health benefits to give you an idea of how powerful this fruit is for the body. They have little to no pesticide residue on or in the flesh of the fruit itself, so there is no dire need to purchase them organic. Stock up on them to blend into green smoothies, raw soups, to slip into you baking to replace oil and eggs and to moisturize the skin.
The Top 5 Health Benefits of Avocados
There are many benefits related to avocados, but here are five the most researched:
1. Avocados Stabilize Blood Sugar
One of the most important health benefits of avocados is that it is helpful in maintaing blood sugar within healthy range. Why is this important? When we eat a food containing carbohydrates, our blood sugars rise (or skyrocket, depending on the carbohydrate source, e.g., grains, sugar). Insulin rises in response so that our cells can take in that blood sugar (glucose) to utilize for energy. Over time, our insulin receptors may become weak and unable to do this task, resulting in type II diabetes.
Many diseases are linked to insulin resistance and poor blood sugar stability, such as Alzheimer’s and cancer. That’s why it is very important that we maintain healthy blood sugar and insulin levels at all times, even if we are not diabetic. Prevention is key. Pair a medium to high carbohydrate meal with 2 oz. of avocado to help combat blood sugar spikes. The natural monounsaturated fat will lower the glycemic index of the meal, resulting in a slower rise in blood glucose.
2. Avocados Keep You Young and Beautiful
This title seems a bit too general for me, because beauty is merely a matter of perspective; however, the health benefits of avocados do keep your skin looking nourished, smooth and young. This is how:
- The fat in the avocado is primarily monounsaturated. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of saturated fats that contain short to medium chained fatty acids (coconut oil, for example); however, monounsaturated fat does play a vital role in our bodies, so discarding it completely isn’t a good idea. The monounsaturated fat in avocados moisturizes the skin from the inside out, giving you a smooth, naturally moisturized look. You can also moisturize externally, as well as internally, with avocado. Just be sure to wipe it off gently with a cloth to avoid the green hue!
- Vitamin C and K also work to keep our skin and bones healthy and youthful. Vitamin C is important for collagen synthesis, and vitamin K regulates calcium within our bones. Vitamin C, which is contained in avocados, is a powerful antioxidant, that helps fight free radicals. Free radicals speed up the aging process, so it is important to have a diet high in antioxidants in order to maintain a youthful glow and appearance.
- Anti-inflammatory compounds within avocado are also highly absorbed to help fight inflammation within the skin and other areas of the body.
3. Avocados Promote Heart Health
Heart health is important for everyone, yet one of the underrated health benefits of avocados is the promotion of the heart. One study (among many others) showed that participants who consumed avocados compared to those who didn’t had higher levels of nutrients such as vitamin E, vitamin K, potassium and magnesium. These nutrients are important not just for overall health, but for the heart.
Avocado consumers also tend to be lower in body weight than non-avocado eating counterparts, which also leads to a healthier heart and blood production. Many tend to believe that because avocado is high in fat, it can’t be good for cardiovascular support. Far from it! In fact, the fatty acid oleic acid (also found in olive oil), tends to support cardiovascular function. Omega-3 fatty acids also offer health benefits to the heart, of which are contained in avocado as alpha-linoleic acid).
4. Avocados May Be Anti-Carcinogenic
As mentioned in the above health benefits of avocados, the fruit contains anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Since cancer is linked to inflammation and free radicals, consuming foods rich in anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant compounds is important for cancer prevention. A healthy diet that includes avocados, green vegetables and low to no grains or sugar (grains and sugar are both pro-inflammtory) can go a long way in a cancer prevention strategy. Exercising, relaxation, vitamin D are also powerful ways to prevent disease.
5. Avocados Increase Your Absorption of Other Nutrients
One reason why a low-fat diet is dangerous is because when we eat foods that contain fat soluble vitamins, like vitamin A, D, E and K (which are present in fat-free vegetables), we can’t absorb them without fat in the diet. This may lead to a deficiency of these vitamins in some, if not many, people. Don’t fall for the low-fat philosophy! Choosing the right fats, from avocado, olive oil, coconut and other nuts and seeds, will guarantee you will be absorbing many of your vitamins.
This is one reason why I like adding avocado to my green smoothie, as well as to my salads. It helps me absorb the vitamins A and K effectively, which is helpful in skin health, hair and nails, bones, heart, lungs and much more. I also like using avocados in the place of mayonnaise when I make tuna or sardine salad “sandwiches” (wrapping the fish in lettuce leaves).
Again, apart from the health benefits of avocados, they are wonderfully versatile. You can use them in your baking to replace oil and/or eggs. I would start out replacing 1/4 of the oil in a cake or cupcake recipe with avocado. I wouldn’t advise using avocado in a cookie recipe, only because you will not have same texture or spreading consistency. Blend the batter in a blender to make sure the avocado is dispersed evenly.
Do you like avocados? I will posting a recipe for homemade healthy guacamole very soon, so stay tuned! Not only is it a tasty dip, it’s packed full of nutrition.
Until then, this is The Healthy Advocate.