Avocados are grown primarily in equatorial, tropical and subtropical areas. The most sought out variety of the avocado fruit is the creamy Hass Avocado. Evidence dating back to 10,000 B.C. suggests that avocado trees were first seen in Puebla, Mexico. The first settlers to utilize this highly beneficial fruit were the civilizations of Ancient Central America and South America.
Avocados are harvested early and then allowed to gradually ripen. An indicator of ripe avocados is its skin; if it is soft and budges on pressing it gently, then the fruit has ripened completely.
Avocado Fruit Benefits
Many people think eating avocado is fattening due to its high-calorie content. However, avocado consists only of healthy fats. It offers an adequate amount of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) to the body. It naturally contains nearly 20 vitamins and minerals. Adding avocado to fruits and vegetables can greatly benefit us. To better understand the value of this amazing fruit, let’s have a look at twelve incredible advantages of eating avocado regularly.
1. Eating avocado aids weight loss
Avocados are rich in fiber and low in carbs which is why they promote weight loss. Additionally, a study suggests people who ate avocado after a meal felt 23% more satisfied.
They also had a 28% lower desire to eat for at least 5 hours, as opposed to those people who did not eat the fruit. Hence, one naturally consumes fewer calories if avocados are included in their daily diet. Avocados help in improving metabolism and the presence of antioxidants help neutralize some free radicals.
2. Protection of one’s eyesight
Avocados are rich in powerful antioxidants and also promote the absorption of antioxidants from other foods. Two antioxidants that are crucial for maintaining eye health are lutein and zeaxanthin, both of which are present in avocados.
These two carotenoids are responsible for filtering out blue light, which can damage the eye and help in preserving healthy eye cells. Therefore, consumption of this fruit can reduce the risk of cataract and macular degeneration in adults.
3. Lowers risk of heart diseases and cholesterol
In today’s busy lifestyle, diseases associated with one’s heart have become increasingly common. High cholesterol, blood pressure, strokes, inadequate triglyceride levels, etc. have been known to cause plenty of untimely deaths.
Avocados are known to reduce the risk of heart diseases. They can significantly lessen total cholesterol, lower blood triglyceride by up to 20% and increase high-density lipoprotein by up to 11% and reduce HDL by up to 22%. A low-fat, vegetarian diet further enhances its effectiveness.
4. Avocados are high in fiber
Fiber is basically an indigestible plant matter that contributes towards improved digestion, reduction of blood sugar spikes, and weight loss. Avocados are a rich source of fiber and contain 7 g of fiber per 100g. Also, it has both soluble (25%) and insoluble fibers (75%).
The former attracts water and turns it into gel whereas the latter improves movement of material during digestion. Those suffering from poor digestion or constipation can benefit from eating avocados.
5. Avocados contain high levels of potassium
Bananas may be rich in potassium, but avocados have even higher levels of potassium. This helps to maintain electrical gradients in one’s body. In addition to this, high potassium intake also reduces the risk of heart attacks, high blood pressure, and kidney failure.
6. Impressive nutritional value
For health-conscious individuals, eating avocados has become incredibly popular. Referred to as a superfood, they comprise of Vitamin K, Folate, Vitamin C, Vitamin B5, Potassium, Vitamin E, Vitamin B6, magnesium, copper, fat-soluble, iron, Vitamin A, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, zinc, manganese, and phosphorus. They also have monounsaturated fats, 2 grams of protein, oleic acid and only 2 ‘net’ carbs. Additionally, there are no traces of sodium. All these nutrients are present in a single 100 gram serving of this nutritious fruit. Including it in your diet will help you avail all these nutrients at once!
7. Inhibits the growth of cancer
Avocados can potentially play a role in treating cancer. Researchers have found that the phytochemicals extracted from this fruit can significantly restrain the growth of precancerous and cancerous cells.
They also aid in the proliferation of immune system cells known as lymphocytes. Eating avocados also limits the chromosomal damage caused by the chemotherapy drug, cyclophosphamide.
One-half of a raw avocado has 82 mcg of folate and it is known to reduce the risk of developing stomach, colon, pancreatic, and even cervical cancers. A 2013 study on avocados found that it also helps in preventing breast cancer.
8. Prevents Osteoporosis
An essential nutrient for good bone health is Vitamin K; a quarter of the daily requirement of this vitamin can be obtained from only half an avocado. Eating a diet that’s rich in Vitamin D, calcium and Vitamin K can maintain healthy bones since the latter helps in calcium absorption as well as decreasing urinary excretion of calcium.
9. Leads to antimicrobial action
Certain microbial activities such as those caused by Escherichia coli is a major reason for food poisoning. Avocados contain some substances that have an antimicrobial activity which can prevent infections and allergies.
10. Aids smooth pregnancies
To achieve a healthy pregnancy, folate is essential. Avocados have significant amounts of nutrients. Its adequate and prescribed intake can reduce risks associated with miscarriage as well as neural tube defects. Moreover, the presence of Vitamin B6 also helps overcome morning sickness, nausea or vomiting, and queasiness.
The fruit includes omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that are beneficial for the growth of the fetus. It also has antioxidants that prevent cellular damage.
11. Avocado Maintain healthy skin
Avocados have carotenoids that reduce UV-induced inflammation of the skin; its oil also assists against skin damage. There are also high levels of beta-carotene in avocados. This helps protect the skin from various damaging effects of the sun.
12. Avocado Improve oral health
Regulated consumption of avocados also enables one to prevent bad breath. Avocados can easily cure the indigestion causing this. Also, the antioxidant flavonoids present in this fruit kill the bacteria that cause bad breath. The potassium content fights tooth decay and cavities.
Popular Names of Avocado
There are several different names for the fruit across the world. In many parts of India, people know avocado as ‘butter fruit‘. In certain other parts of the world, the fruit is known in the local language by words that translate to the term ‘alligator pear’.
Interesting Avocado Recipes
Apart from offering you amazing health benefits, avocado is also one of the most versatile and delicious ingredients that you can add to a variety of dishes. It is probably the only fruit that combines various textures like the creaminess of butter, vitamins and minerals from fruits, and the protein from meat in addition to a distinctly nutty flavour. Here are some exciting avocado recipes that you can use to add that extra zing to your meals:
1. Corn and Avocado Salad
It is probably the healthiest recipe involving Avocado, while also being the easiest to prepare. Take a bowl and toss in some fresh corn kernels, bell peppers, cucumbers, carrots, and avocado. Add some lime juice and any dressing of your choice. Mix it thoroughly and enjoy the health benefits of this delicious salad.
Just scoop out the avocado from its shell and add a little lime and some parsley and mint. Mash the whole thing thoroughly to create a smooth paste. Add any seasoning to suit your palate and enjoy one of the creamiest yet healthiest dips you can get.
3. Coriander Avocado Dip
Just take some avocados, crushed garlic and pepper, chopped mint and parsley and mix with creamy yoghurt. Shake vigorously for a few seconds. Your Coriander Avocado Dip is ready for consumption.
4. Grilled Chicken Salad
Take generous amounts of avocado and mix it with juicy chicken pieces, lettuce, cherry tomatoes, pomegranate and some nuts. Add a little olive oil and lemon juice. Toss it a couple of times and have a healthy and filling snack.
5. Seared Tuna with Avocado and Spinach
Just keep it simple. Pan-sear the tuna and add some leaves of baby spinach and generous amounts of avocado. Your Seared Tuna with Avocado and Spinach is ready to be served.
6. Avocado Indian Salad
Go completely desi with this foreign ingredient. Take some chopped tomatoes, onion, cucumber, carrots and diced cottage cheese. Add a couple of green chilies, and squeeze in a fresh lemon with some chaat masala. Mix it thoroughly and enjoy a healthy Indian salad.
7. Chicken and Avocado Sandwich
Take avocado paste and spread it nicely on the bread. Now add pan-seared chicken breast and some pickled onions to the bread. Finish it with a leaf of iceberg lettuce and dig into this lip-smacking sandwich.
With so many health benefits, it is only natural that avocados are now produced in many countries. Its thick skin also protects it from damage by pesticide, making it one of the safest crops to purchase. One can eat it raw or make a dressing. You can even use avocado oil in place of butter while baking to reduce the production of fatty acids in your body.
Avocado – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What is avocado fruit called in India?
A. Avocado is not a typical fruit that you see in Indian markets. It was first introduced in the 20th century, where it was shipped from Sri Lanka. The Indian name of Avocado is Makhanfal.
Q. What is the benefit of avocado?
A. Avocado has been popular because of its numerous benefits. It is great for reducing the risk of heart diseases, treating Type II diabetes, maintaining blood pressure, helping in weight loss, etc.
Q. How do you eat avocado fruit?
A. Avocado is a versatile fruit that can be added raw in salads and dips or made into a puree and spread on toast.
Q. What is the best time to eat avocado?
A. A ripe Avocado can be consumed any time of the day, as a tasty addition to any meal.
Q. Does avocado make you gain weight?
A. Avocados are high in fat and calories, hence if consumed in excess, can lead to weight gain.
Q. Is it OK to eat an avocado every day?
A. Yes, you can have an Avocado every day without fearing any adverse effects. In fact, in 2015 the American Heart Association published a paper discussing the benefits of having avocado every day that can improve cholesterol levels in obese people.
Q. What is avocado fruit good for?
A. Avocado contains tons of vitamins, minerals and healthy fats that help in weight loss, improving heart health, eyesight and skin, prevents osteoporosis, etc.