Avocado, something that essentially falls under the category of a fruit, has high fatty acid content but fewer calories than what you find in butter. The fat content, though pretty high, comes from a source called phytosterols which is extremely beneficial for the human system. It is the creamy flesh of which is light-green in colour, not so sweet in taste that is the edible portion of the fruit.
Also known as Alligator Pear, by virtue of its leathery appearance, Avocado is grown on Persea Americana, a tree from the Lauraceae family. The avocado trees are long, goes up to about 65 feet in height and the fruit weighs somewhere between 8 ounces and 3 pounds, depending on its size. The fruit, though, unlikely in resemblance, has a close association with cinnamon and is harvested only when ripe and fine.
Although grown in varieties, the most popular one is that of creamy Hass variety. Though grown in tropical, subtropical and equatorial areas, it grows the best in Mediterranean climate and actually originated in Puebla, Mexico, back in 10,000 B.C. Ancient Central American and South American people used to use wild avocados, but it appeared in other parts of the world only in the last 500 years and gained enormous popularity for its health benefits.
Avocado’s because of their thick skin, are the least exposed to pesticides and are usually eaten raw. So now you know there is no need to buy organic avocados ?
There are a lot of ways to actually consume it; it could be eaten raw, as a dessert whip, as a shake, or even as a salad or on a toast. The most popular use of avocados is as a topping on hamburgers and sandwiches in parts of America.
Avocado is also an alternative for butter or mayonnaise by virtue of its low-fat content (high but lower than that of butter) as 3.5oz avocados contain 14.66g fat, whereas the same amount of butter contains 81g fat.
Let’s talk nutrition?
Called a “superfood,” avocados are rich in every nutrient, vitamin, mineral – you name it. They also are a source of monounsaturated fatty acids with a low sugar content. They contain calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, all the vitamins, dietary fibre and a single serving can actually provide more than 40% of the daily requirement of nutrient. Avocados are rich in potassium and being so, they balance the potassium to sodium ratio important for a healthy body. A medium-sized Hass avocado contains 22.5 grams fat, 23 of which is monounsaturated in nature. They are also an extraordinary composition of organic compounds like phytosterols, carotenoids, and flavonoids.
Let’s talk benefits!
Aids in Digestion
Avocados are known to soothe the intestine as they contain soluble and insoluble fibres which keep the digestive system healthy. Avocados, apart from ensuring smooth bowel movements, also accelerate the formation of gastric and digestive juices which helps the absorption of nutrients. If consumed while suffering from constipation or diarrhoea, avocados can help get rid of the situation and improve digestive health. Do we need to mention that you should try including avocados in your meals?
Avocados majorly help avoid bad breath which is an offset of an upset stomach. As a result of improved digestive health, Halitosis can also be gotten rid of.
What’s halitosis? Well, it’s just the technical term for bad breath. Besides, because of the antibacterial and antioxidant flavonoids, the bacteria in the mouth can also be killed avoiding the bad stench and even oral cancer of kinds.
Skin and Hair Care
Avocados help ensure a healthy skin and hair, avoiding chaps, brittleness and damage. The fruit extracts are commonly found in shampoos and creams amongst other cosmetics for its ability to nourish. When used in the form of avocado oil, plaque psoriasis can be avoided as well as treated. Beta-carotene and lycopene, two organic compounds in avocados help avoid premature ageing too!
By virtue of the organic compounds found in Avocados naturally, liver damage and an overall liver health can be improved. Hepatitis C is a situation that is caused due to liver damage and a regular consumption of this fruit can indirectly help avoid that too.
Well folks! this does not mean you start drinking a lot and keep having avocados. Eat healthy and stay fit!
Because avocados contain carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin, they help protect you against cataracts, eye diseases that occur due to ageing and macular degeneration. The antioxidant activity post consumption of an avocado help get rid of the free radicals that cause such situations by avoiding an accumulation of tissues in the eye.
A Healthy Heart
Beta-sitosterol, an organic compound in avocados, helps maintain the body’s cholesterol levels and protects the heart from atherosclerosis by enhancing the antiatherogenic properties of HDL cholesterol. Avocados also help fight hypertension as they are rich in potassium; which is a vasodilator that relaxes blood vessels’ and artery tension, avoiding strokes and clotting.
Potassium, an essential nutrient to help maintain the body’s fluid balance, is extensively found in Avocados and as the fluid balance is essential for a vital functioning of the kidneys, chronic kidney disorders can be treated. However, an overconsumption should be avoided as excess potassium can, as well, be harmful.
Treats Vitamin K Deficiency
A very uncommon situation to talk about, the deficiency of Vitamin K can lead to a bleeding disorder known as vitamin K deficiency-related bleeding (VKDB) and takes places mostly during pregnancy. Consumption of the fruit by pregnant women can help lowering the risk of VKDB in the newborn as avocados contain a high amount of vitamin K.
Morning sickness, a very common and rather irritating result of pregnancy can be easily overcome by the consumption of avocados as it contains Vitamin B6- which is even otherwise known to get rid of nausea.
The anti-inflammatory properties of avocados are in the range of phytochemicals, flavonoids, carotenoids, phytosterols, fatty alcohols, and omega-3 fatty which makes it a go-to fruit for the avoidance of inflammation in tissues, joints, and muscles. Studies have proven to reduce the symptoms of arthritis with an optimal and regular consumption of avocados greatly.
Avocados can greatly help lower the risk of cancer – primarily breast and prostate cancers- as they contain carotenoids and monounsaturated fat which is known to fight the situations. An antioxidant called Glutathione is also found which fights free radicals. When tested particularly on oral, skin, and prostate cancers; it was observed that instead of metastasizing (the spread of cancer to other body parts), avocados cause cancerous cells to perform apoptosis (automatic cell death).
As the fruit contains both – vitamin C and E- the antioxidant activity in the human body is automatically enhanced as Vitamin C recycles vitamin E and reduces the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. Other antioxidants like epicatechin, violaxanthin and neochrome are also found in Avocado which neutralizes the effects of free radicals that can otherwise cause an ordeal.
Due to the vitamin content and presence of carotenoids, avocados can help reduce the UV-induced inflammation of the skin and sunburn damage. Beta-carotene in avocados splits itself into provitamin A which protects the skin from sun’s harmful effects.
As avocados provide nutritional value to the body, it can help control weight; if consumed regularly along with daily exercise.
Avocados are rich in compounds such as xanthophyll which has a plethora of antioxidant properties associated with reducing premature ageing and skin sagging.
Avocados are full of carotenoids such as zeaxanthin and lutein which help avoid an exposure to a defective cartilage – a prevailing symptom of osteoarthritis. Other nutrients in Avocado like that of zinc, phosphorus, copper, and traces of calcium are also indirectly associated with lowering osteoporosis and improvements in bone mineral density. Win-win!
It is recommended that avocados be consumed along with other fruits/vegetables as the nutrients present in other fruits/vegetables can be catalysed when eaten along with avocados. Carotenoid antioxidant molecules (found in common fruits and vegetables) is an antioxidant that fights free radical damage and known to boost three to five times when consumed with avocado.
Blood Glucose Level
As per studies conducted on non-diabetic and diabetic rats concluded that the avocado leaf extracts greatly help in lowering the blood glucose levels. Especially for those suffering from diabetes, the metabolism of starch-based foods into simple sugars can result from spikes and plunges harmful for diabetics. The fibre present in avocados can slow the breakdown process of food into healthy sugars. Besides, the carbohydrates in avocados are constituted of 7-carbon sugars which checks the enzyme ‘hexokinase’ and eventually helps control the way glucose is metabolized by the body.
Useful for Athletes
Because of the energy boost that one feels after the consumption of avocados along with a power punch of nutrients, the fruit is of great advantage for those practising athletics. Phytochemicals in avocados are also a great source of natural body fuel.
Side Effects Of Avocado
Some common side effects of over-consumption of avocado include-
- A migraine
- Light sensitivity.
How to consume, store, pick?
- Pick the fruit that is fresh, ripe and has no dark spots on it to speak of
- Never refrigerate full avocados- however, a half eaten fruit can be and should be stored in the fridge
- Unripe avocados should be stored at room temperature to enhance the ripening and then be consumed
How to eat?
- As a salad
- Chopped onions, tomatoes, lettuce can be added to avocados and seasoned with lime, pepper, olive oil and optional meat to create a tasty and power packed salad.
- As a soup
- Chopped avocados can be added as a garnish on soups
- Can be consumed raw but ensure its ripe
- As a Food Dressing
- Is avocado a fruit?
Yes, it is; though technically a berry.
- Are avocados good for us?
Oh yes, of course! Avocados are great for your health by virtue of all the vitamins, antioxidants, minerals and calcium present in it. They make a great alternative butter and mayonnaise for vegans, too!
- Is avocado a fruit or a vegetable?
In layman terms, it is a fruit but technically it is a type of a berry. A lack of sweetness usually causes this confusion but it is actually the lack of sweetness and the creamy texture that makes it versatile to speak of.
- Are avocados healthy?
They are very healthy! The already mentioned points could be referred for details.
- Are avocados bad for you?
Avocados are not at all bad for health but they can get so when over consumed. The high-fat content makes them calorific but then again, is a lot better than other calorie imparting foods as this one comes with a lot of benefits too.
- How many calories does an avocado have?
It all depends on the size of the fruit but to put things into perspective, 100g of avocado flesh contains around 160 calories. Though high in calorie count, they contain ‘healthy’ fat and that needs to be understood.