Avocado: The Food Amongst Fruits!!
Pictures of avocado preparations (such as an avocado toast) are a quintessential component of almost every fitness enthusiast’s Instagram profile. But why is Avocado so popular among health enthusiasts? And more importantly, how will Avocado help you be healthier and fitter? Read on to find out!
Avocado! Doesn’t Ring a Bell?
Avocado (also known as Alligator Pear) is a pear-shaped fruit with a rich creamy flavour. It is extremely popular amongst health and fitness enthusiasts due to high levels of good fat content and extremely low levels of cholesterol present in it.
Avocado is usually eaten raw, as a dessert whip, or in the form of salads with little pepper and salt. You may have had avocados in the form of guacamole, a traditional Mexican and Central American dip that also doubles up as a good hamburger and sandwich topping. Some people use avocado oil for baking, as a replacement for butter or oil while others try avocado oil mayonnaise in sandwiches. In short, health is not the only reason why people consume Avocado; it is a favourite for many for its central role in many lip-smacking dishes.
Avocado’s health benefits stem from the abundance of nutrients present in it including bioactive compounds like phytosterols. Below are some of the health benefits, of including avocado in your diet, which you can start reaping today!
Improves Digestive Health
Every 100g of avocado has around 7g of dietary fiber.
Avocados contain dietary fibers that help to keep the digestive system healthy. Dietary fiber ensures a smooth passage of food through the intestines. They also stimulate the inner intestinal wall resulting in faster movement of the food through it and stimulating the secretion of gastric and digestive juices, so nutrients are absorbed efficiently. All these ultimately help in reducing symptoms of indigestion and constipation.
Improves Heart Health
Avocados contain monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA)-rich fruit oil with 71% MUFA, 13% polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), and 16% saturated fatty acids (SFA). MUFA and PUFA increase the levels of HDL cholesterol which is widely regarded as ‘good cholesterol’ and decrease the levels of LDL or bad cholesterol. HDL protects the heart from cardiovascular diseases (CVD) and prevents clogging by transporting the excess cholesterol away from the cells and preventing accumulation.
β-sitosterol, which is found in avocados, helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, consuming 2,000mg of phytosterols daily could lower cholesterol by 5 – 15%. Additionally, the significant levels of potassium present in avocados make them a powerful ally in the body’s fight against hypertension.
Thus, including avocados in your diet is definitely a step forward towards better heart health.
Enhances Nutrient Bioavailability
The avocado oil consists of 71% monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), 13% polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), and 16% saturated fatty acids (SFA), which helps to promote healthy blood lipid profiles and enhance the bioavailability of fat-soluble vitamins and phytochemicals from the avocado or other fruits and vegetables, naturally low in fat, which are consumed with avocados.
Moreover, Avocados provides nearly 20 vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients essential for healthy living and weight management. It is also a good source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, and manganese.
Improves Vision and Eye Health
Free radical damage is one of the factors behind eye diseases such as cataracts, macular degeneration and general age-related degeneration. Free radical damage can be caused by stress, environmental pollution, food habits, etc. Avocados contain carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin which are antioxidants. Antioxidants are molecules which prevent free radical damage and protect the eyes from its negative effects.
Improves Skin Health
Similar to the eyes, the skin can also get damaged with time due to free radical damage and ageing. Avocados are packed with antioxidants and nutrients that help keep your skin soft, smooth and healthy. If you have dry, chapped or damaged skin, including avocados to your diet will help you significantly! Beta-carotene and lycopene are two organic compounds found in large quantities in avocados. Beta-carotene, although is not an essential nutrient, releases Vitamin A when processed inside the body, known to play a critical role in maintaining good skin quality. Both of these compounds are known to improve the health and tone of your skin and eliminate signs of premature ageing.
Lycopene could be your first line of defense against UV Rays
British Society for Investigative Dermatology conducted a study where researchers assigned participants to a diet high in lycopene for 3 months. A different group ate a regular diet to serve as a control group. The results were – the group that ate a lycopene-rich diet enjoyed 33% greater protection against the sun’s damaging rays. That’s the equivalent of an SPF of 1.3!
It is no wonder that avocado extracts are found in a variety of cosmetics due to their ability to nourish the skin with essential vitamins and make it glow. Avocado oil also helps in treating plaque psoriasis.
Prevents Bad Breath
Bad breath or halitosis can be caused by bad digestive health or bad dental health. The nutrients and vitamins present in avocados help in improving digestive health. The soluble and insoluble dietary fiber present in avocados also help improve your gut health which is intimately associated with our overall health and wellbeing.
Did You Know: How was the term ‘Halitosis’ coined?
In 1921, the term “halitosis” was coined by George Lambert, the son of Listerine founder Jordan Wheat Lambert. He took the Latin word for breath, “halitus” and combined it with the medical ending “osis” to get a medical-sounding term for bad breath. Then he ran a marketing campaign for Listerine based on bad breath that skyrocketed the popularity of the remedy.
The antibacterial and antioxidant flavonoids found in avocados also kill the bacteria in your mouth, thus improving oral hygiene. This also helps in solving bad breath.
As you would have probably guessed by now, the above list isn’t exhaustive. These are only some of the benefits which you will enjoy if you include avocado to your diet. You don’t need to be a fitness freak or a health enthusiast to have avocado. Small changes to your diet today will give you immense returns in the future as you will be a healthier, fitter and happier version of yourself!