Avocados have been enjoying a massive surge of popularity in recent years. They have become one of the top food trends of the decade and are often celebrated as a superfood. Avocados may look pretty humble with their dark, bumpy skin, but whether you slice them up or whizz up some guacamole, the health benefits of avocado are very attractive. It also helps that they are delicious and incredibly versatile; you can even use avocado oil in place of your usual cooking oil.
What are the Health Benefits of Avocado?
Let’s look at the top five health benefits of including avocado in your diet and find out exactly why they are often awarded the title of ‘superfood:
1- Avocados contain Healthy Fats – There are ‘good’ fats and ‘bad’ fats, making it quite difficult when trying to make healthy food choices. Avocados are sometimes labeled as high-fat foods, but don’t let this put you off. The type of fat found in an avocado is monounsaturated fat. These are actually good fats that help to lower ‘bad cholesterol’ (yes, there is good and bad cholesterol too!). Fat is necessary in all of our diets; in fact, every cell in your body requires fat to function. However, we all, unfortunately, know how easy it is to get too much of the wrong sorts of fats. Monounsaturated fats help to keep you fuller for longer, helping to keep glucose levels stable. Eating healthy fat helps to curb appetite, and it just might prevent that mid-afternoon energy slump when many of us begin to crave a high-carb or high-sugar snack.
2- Avocados are Rich in Vitamin and Minerals – One of the most important health benefits of avocado is that they are nutritionally dense. This means that they pack in a relatively high number of vitamins and minerals per ounce. Let’s take a look at the main nutritional health benefits of avocado:
- Vitamin C – this vitamin is one of the most well-known of our nutritional requirements and is essential for the immune system, growth and healing of tissue, absorption of iron, and healthy skin.
- Potassium – perhaps one of the most surprising health benefits of avocados is the amount of potassium they contain, even more than bananas, which are famed for their potassium content. Potassium is essential for fluid balance and a healthy nervous system.
- Vitamin E – this is crucial for eye health and for healthy skin, hair, and nails. Vitamin E also plays an essential role in the body’s immune system, protecting us from illness and disease.
- Vitamin K – an avocado provides half of the recommended daily amount of vitamin K, which is essential for good bone health.
- Magnesium – this is important for the nervous system and muscular function. It is crucial in maintaining the heart rhythm (the heart is a muscle) and regulates the blood pressure.
- Lutein – this is a very important substance in protecting the eyes, essential for good ocular health and normal vision.
- Beta-Carotene – the body turns beta-carotene into vitamin A which is essential for immunity, healthy skin, good vision, and muscle function.
- B vitamins – avocados contain a good range of the B-vitamins, including B6, B9 – folate, B2 – riboflavin, B3 – niacin, and B5 – pantothenic acid. These are some of the most important vitamins that the body requires and impact everything from the nervous system and muscle function to skin health and mental acuity.
3- The Heart Health Benefits of Avocados – Plant sterols are known to have a protective effect on the human heart. They do this by balancing the cholesterol levels and can reduce levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol. This can lower the risk of heart attack or stroke. WebMD has more information on how plant sterols work to protect the heart. Avocado contains a plant sterol known as beta-sitosterol. Avocado also delivers a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids, which are also known to have a protective impact on the heart.
4- Avocado is Packed with Fiber – One of the crucial health benefits of avocado is that it delivers both soluble and insoluble fiber. These two types of fiber are each important. Three-quarters of the fiber in an avocado is the insoluble type. Insoluble fiber adds bulk, eases constipation, and is good for the colon. Soluble fiber helps us feel fuller for longer, can lower cholesterol and balance blood sugar levels, reducing blood sugar spikes. Soluble fiber (around one-quarter of the total fiber in an avocado) is good for improving the flora of the gut, feeding those good bacteria that are essential for healthy digestion and all-around wellness.
5- Don’t Just Eat Them! – One of the most unusual and exciting health benefits of avocado is that they can bring benefits to your life without the need to eat them! Avocado is excellent for the skin and hair. It acts as a deep moisturizing and conditioning treatment. It is quick, cheap, and easy to make a natural hair or face mask using mashed avocado and some honey. The avocado’s rich, creamy texture restores the skin and hair, making this an excellent choice for dry, tired skin or over-processed hair.
Experience the Health Benefits of Avocado
It is always good to remember that avocados are relatively high in calories compared to other fruits and vegetables, so it’s best not to go overboard with avocado at every meal! However, this nutritionally dense powerhouse of healthy fats and fiber can be a useful stepping stone to a healthier diet. Incorporating avocado in salads, smoothies, and snacks is a good way to make small changes to the diet that can add up to major impacts on your health, and it may help you feel more sated, so you are able to cut out less healthy snacks. Why not try adding some avocado to your diet? You could make some healthy guacamole, spread some avocado on your toast instead of butter, or simply slice it up into your lunchtime salad. While you’re at it, test out the power of avocado on your skin too!