Many nutritionists consider the avocado, which is native to the region stretching from the central highlands of Mexico to the Pacific Coast of Central America, to be one of the healthiest fruits in the world. This is because, unlike most other fruits, these green-skinned, single-seeded berries are rich in beneficial fats that are proven to boost our health in countless ways.
However, avocados are also bursting with many other nutrients lacking in the Western diet, making them an excellent “all-round” food for correcting deficiencies and tackling diseases. This article takes a closer look at the health benefits of this often misunderstood fruit, which deserves far more attention in the Western world than it currently receives.
Rich in disease-fighting fats
We can expect to receive an impressive 29 grams of total fat from the average avocado grown in Florida and California. Around 67 percent of this fat is monounsaturated, 16 percent is polyunsaturated and 15 percent is saturated.
The primary monounsaturated fatty acid in avocado is oleic acid, which can prevent the onset of several serious diseases. For example, a study published in Nutrition in 2004 found that oleic acid (along with certain polyunsaturated acids) could be “useful for decreasing risk factors for cardiovascular disease.” A study published in Lipids in Health and Disease in 2009 also discovered that oleic acid could reverse the negative effects of inflammatory proteins in obese and diabetic patients, suggesting that it can help prevent and possibly even treat type 2 diabetes.
Avocados contain certain plant sterols, such as beta-sitosterol, that possess antiestrogenic properties, meaning they can block the estrogen receptors in our cells and reduce estrogen absorption rates. Consequently, progesterone levels in women and testosterone levels in men are increased. This makes avocados an especially valuable food in today’s world of widespread pollution and gender-bending chemicals, which can greatly compromise endocrine function.
Packed with carotenoids
Avocados are rich in a beneficial group of phytochemicals called carotenoids, which are plant-based precursors to the powerful antioxidant vitamin A. One of the carotenoids found in avocados, beta-carotene, is especially well-known for its cancer-fighting benefits. A study published in Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications in August 2013, for instance, found that beta-carotene could inhibit the growth of tumors associated with neuroblastoma, an aggressive cancer that affects young children.
Two other carotenoids found in avocados, lutein and zeaxanthin, are found in high concentrations in the macula of the human eye and are renowned for their vision-boosting properties. According to a report published by the American Macular Degeneration Foundation, lutein and zeaxanthin supplements can even prevent age-related macular generation, the most common cause of vision loss in Westerners aged 50 or older.
High in nutrients
One American avocado supplies our bodies with approximately 33 percent of our recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin C, 53 percent of our RDA of vitamin K, 28 percent of our RDA of potassium and similarly high amounts of other beneficial nutrients such as vitamin E, manganese, magnesium and most B vitamins. Additionally, one avocado contains a whopping 13 grams of dietary fiber, which is over 50 percent of our RDA. (7) This is far more fiber per weight than most other fruits, making avocados one of the best foods for treating constipation.
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