Go Green! 8 Reasons to Eat Avocados

 
 Avocados, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, constipation, weight loss, heart health, cardiovascular health, cancer prevention, brain health, memory, Alzheimer's, arthritis, eye health, skin health, UV damage, carotenoids, beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, guacamole

Are you getting enough fat in your diet? Are you sure? Do you know what kinds of fat are most beneficial for your health? Fat is often a confusing subject in the dietary world. In the past, we were taught to believe that all fat was bad. In the '80s, saturated fat was demonized, and that became the impetus for the low-fat craze. Unfortunately, this led to the expanding waistline epidemic of our nation. Because when the fat went out, sugar came in. We now understand that fat doesn't make you fat; sugar makes you fat. Furthermore, saturated fat has now been exonerated from causing cardiovascular disease. As science has evolved, so have our diets ... or they should have evolved.

If you're still baffled by which fats to consume and how much, you're not alone. For those still frightened by saturated fat, you need look no further than the avocado ... a powerful green fruit that is nature's perfect source of fat. This is one you can trust. Avocados are 77% fat, but they are filled with the monounsaturated (MUFA) kind, particularly oleic acid. Oleic acid is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent which is known to resist oxidative damage and protects our cell membranes. This results in a host of health benefits for those who consume this type of fat. 

Beyond the healthy fat, avocados are jam-packed with vitamins and trace minerals. This super-fruit contains more potassium than bananas. It contains the fat-soluble vitamins K, E, and A. It's also abundant in B vitamins like folate and B6 and vitamin C. In addition to potassium, its micro-minerals include magnesium, iron, and copper.

Don't worry that the high fat and caloric content will make you gain weight. Avocados provide satiating fats that keep your tummy filled much longer than most fruits and veggies. Remember, the more good fats you eat, the less hungry and prone to binge you'll be. One more bonus ... the fats in avocado help absorb the nutrients from other plants. So when you add avocado to your salad or veggie wrap, you're actually getting more nutrients than if you ate the salad or wrap sans fat. 

8 Health Benefits of Avocados

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The avocado's combination of vitamins, minerals, micronutrients, and fats makes it a superfood, one which imparts a host of health benefits with disease-fighting potential.

1) Reduce Constipation

Avocados contain fiber and lots of it. One avocado has a whopping 13 grams and a combination of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Fiber helps increase healthy bacteria in the gut, supporting digestive flora and the immune system. It also helps pull waste through the intestines for elimination. This improves bowel regularity and eliminates toxins that can build up in our bodies. 

2) Improve cardiovascular health

In studies, avocados have been shown to decrease both LDL ("bad") cholesterol and triglycerides by up to 22% and to increase HDL ("good") cholesterol by 11%. The potassium in avocados is also important for regulating blood pressure. Potassium is a vasodilator, which relaxes blood vessels and arteries, and thus, reduces the chances of heart attacks and strokes. Oleic acid has also been studied and found to reduce blood pressure. One study found that eating a diet high in oleic acid for four weeks reduced blood pressure while increasing good HDL cholesterol in women.

3) Promote Weight Loss

Earlier we spoke about satiety and that avocado's high amounts of good fat can help curb hunger. The fruit's fiber also helps provide a sense of fullness which may make people eat less. Studies have shown the those who consumed avocados daily had reduced hunger and lost more weight than control groups. In addition, several exploratory trials suggest that MUFA-rich diets help protect against abdominal fat accumulation.

4) Protect from Cancer

Avocados contain glutathione which is also known as the "master antioxidant." Studies involving cancer patients and avocado found that the fruit can help reduce the side effects of chemo. In addition, phytochemicals in the fruit inhibit growth of cancer cells and induce apoptosis (cell death) in precancerous and cancer cells. 

5) Improve Brain Functioning

Fatty acids, like those found in avocado, improve the responsiveness of hormones and neurotransmitters in the brain. MUFAs are associated with a lower risk of depression and anxiety. Oleic acid also plays a role in good memory. One post-mortem study of the brains of patients with Alzheimer's disease found that they had an 80% lower oleic acid concentration than those with no cognitive impairment. 

6) Ease Arthritis

In a previous blog post on the benefits of avocado oil, we looked at studies which used ASU, an avocado oil and soybean oil extract. Researchers found that ASU reduced joint pain and stiffness and even inhibited the breakdown of cartilage and promoted its repair. The antioxidants in avocados, like vitamins C and E, also make it a potent anti-inflammatory food. 

7) Support Eye Health

If you have a family history of eye disease and/or issues with visual acuity, avocados may help these conditions. Avocados are rich in carotenoids, like lutein and zeaxanthin, that protect against age-related macular degeneration. They also can reduce the risk of developing cataracts. Because carotenoids are antioxidants, they neutralize the effects of dangerous free radicals that may harm the delicate structure of eyes. 

8) Protect Skin from Damage

The fats in avocados help moisturize the skin from the inside out. Incidentally, mashed avocados can be applied to the skin as a mask, further helping to heal and nourish skin. Beta-carotene and lycopene, found in large quantities in avocados, have been connected to improving the health and tone of skin and eliminating signs of premature aging. Carotenoids are also associated with reducing UV-induced skin damage due to sun exposure.

Guacamole Recipe

If you're looking for a recipe using avocado, look no further than this delicious and easy guacamole. Serve it with some organic corn tortilla chips, grain-free cassava chips, or carrots and celery. 

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