5 Health Benefits Of Avocados

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Few people would argue with the statement that avocados are one of the healthiest foods on the planet. Even fewer would disagree that they’re an amazingly versatile fruit (you heard right — a fruit) and that they can make an average meal a fantastically delicious and nutritious one in short order. Quite simply, avocados are the bee’s knees.

Health benefits of avocados

But then there’s those that stay well away from avocados due to their fat content. While much of the world is slowly beginning to embrace the notion that saturated and monounsaturated fats are a good thing (and low-fat diets are a very bad thing), there are still many people who wouldn’t touch a fatty food with a 10-foot pole.

While these “fat-averse” people might be hesitant to sample the wondrous green goo that is the avocado, there are plenty of other reasons why avocados are good for you. They’re absolutely loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, they’re surprisingly filling, and they’re anti-inflammatory. Not only that, they’re pre-packaged by nature, meaning no nasty plastic wrapping and unnecessary waste — just slice, scoop and throw the skin and pit into the compost.

Based on the above, there’s no doubt that bringing more avocado into your life would be a very smart thing indeed. To provide even more motivation, here are five reasons why avocados are good for you.

1. Avocados are high in heart-healthy fats

Because fat still gets such a bad wrap these days, I simply couldn’t resist bringing up this one first. Newsflash: some fats are good for you! Very good, in fact. Avocados, it just so happens, are amazingly rich in monounsaturated fat, which is one of the “good guys” in the cardiovascular world.

In addition to helping you feel fuller for longer, monounsaturated fats can actually dramatically improve your health. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Lipids in Health and Disease found that monounsaturated fat consumption was associated with an overall risk in all-cause mortality, cardiovascular mortality, cardiovascular events and stroke.

This might go against everything you’ve been taught to believe, but you may have noticed both health experts and government-endorsed ads recently starting to promote olive oil as a good source of healthy fats. What’s the primary form of fat in olive oil? Why, none other than monounsaturated fat!

2. Avocados contain loads of vitamins A, E and K

The vitamins in avocados protect your vision.
The vitamins in avocados protect your vision.

Avocados contain impressive concentrations of the vitamins A, E and K, which work synergistically to positively support many key functions in the body and brain. To break things down a little, here’s a quick overview of their many functions:

  • Vitamin A helps your eyes function as they should and keeps them from drying out.
  • Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant that protects against free-radical damage, speeds healing and can help prevent the development of heart disease.
  • The vitamin K aids in the development and maintenance of healthy bones and supports strong, infection-resistant teeth.

Together with vitamin D, these guys form the dream team of the vitamin world. More avocado means more vitamin A, E and K — why not eat them in the sunshine and complete the vitamin posse? This all means better vision, stronger defense against aging and even cancer, and maintenance of health bones and teeth. These three vitamins are even considered critical to a healthy pregnancy.

3. Avocados contain plenty of vitamin C, too

Not far behind vitamins A, E, K and D in the health department are vitamin C, an antioxidant critical in supporting a strong immune system and forming healthy connective tissue in the body. Avocados contain surprisingly high levels of vitamin C — just another reason why they’re good for you!

4. Avocados help you absorb carotenoids

Avocados are high in oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that promotes the absorption of carotenoids. You’ve probably heard about how carotenoids are the compounds that give carrots and other orange vegetables their vibrant orange hue, but that’s not the end of the story. Carotenoid consumption is directly associated with improved health and reduced risk of disease. Therefore, eating more avocados means more oleic acid, which in turn promotes greater uptake of these nurturing natural compounds.

5. Avocados are high in protein

Avocados are a good source of protein for building muscle.
Avocados are a good source of protein for building muscle.

While monounsaturated fats might take the lion’s share of the humble avocado, they also contain a decent amount of protein too! The highest concentration of protein of any fruit, as it happens. For this reason, avocados make an excellent food to eat before or after workouts, as their healthy fats provide long-lasting energy. Plus their protein helps to build lean muscle mass, which can burn off body fat to help you reach your weight loss goals.

Easy avocado recipe: guacamole

If you’re getting tired of simply scooping avocados onto your favorite salad or slicing them into a sandwich (I don’t think I’ll ever get tired or that!), there’s something else you can make: guacamole! This treat is quick, easy, amazingly nutritious and undeniably delicious! Here’s a quick, easy guacamole recipe to try:

Ingredients

Avocados can easily be turned into guacamole for a healthy snack.
Avocados can easily be turned into guacamole for a healthy snack.
  • 3 ripe avocados
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1/2 onion (red or white)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Slice open the avocados and use a spoon to scoop out the flesh. Use a fork to mash the flesh in a bowl, working it around until it forms a smooth, even consistency.
  2. Stir in the tomato, onion, cilantro, lemon juice and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Thoroughly mix the ingredients until blended to satisfaction.
  3. Taste the mixture, and if it’s lacking in flavor then it may need a little more salt or a dash more of lemon juice.
  4. Eat immediately, or store in an airtight container in the fridge.

How to ripen avocados faster

We’ve all been there: you get to the avocado section in your supermarket and every single one is hard. Rather than ditching these amazingly nutritious fruits, try this trick instead. When you get home, place the avocados in a brown paper bag along with an apple or banana. Leave for one to three days, checking every day, and you’ll find they ripen a whole lot faster. You’re welcome!

Try avocado oil and avocado seed

The oil from avocados is great for high-heat cooking.
The oil from avocados is great for high-heat cooking.

The flesh of the avocado isn’t the only part of this amazing fruit that’s good for you. Avocado oil is an excellent, nutritious alternative to olive oil (and it has a higher heat capacity, too). Not only that, the actual seed itself has many health benefits, so consider finding ways to include that in your daily meals!

— Liivi Hess

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