Not only is avocado delicious but this superfood is packed with disease-fighting antioxidants. Find out how this creamy fruit can benefit your health.
Avocado: The underestimated superfood
Yes, avocados are relatively high in fat and calories (138 calories and 14.1g fat in half a medium-sized avocado). But they’re also one of the best foods you can eat, packed with nutrients and heart-healthy compounds. Here are five great reasons to eat them regularly.
Avocado is packed with carotenoids
Avocados are a great source of lutein, a carotenoid that works as an antioxidant and helps protect against eye disease. They also contain the related carotenoids zeaxanthin, alpha-carotene and beta-carotene, as well as tocopherol (vitamin E).
But avocados aren’t just a rich source of carotenoids by themselves-they also help you get more of these nutrients from other foods. Carotenoids are lipophilic (soluble in fat, not water), so eating carotenoid-packed foods like fruits and vegetables along with monounsaturated-fat-rich avocados helps your body absorb the carotenoids.
An easy way to do this is to add sliced avocado to a mixed salad. (Try this avocado salad with lemon-herb shrimp.)
Avocado can help you lose weight
Half an avocado contains 3.4 grams of fibre, including soluble and insoluble, both of which your body needs to keep the digestive system running smoothly. Plus, soluble fibre slows the breakdown of carbohydrates in your body, helping you feel full for longer.
Avocados also contain oleic acid, a fat that activates the part of your brain that makes you feel full. Healthier unsaturated fats containing oleic acid have been shown to produce a greater feeling of satiety than less-healthy saturated fats and trans fats found in processed foods.
Avocado can help stabilize blood sugar
Rich, creamy, and packed with beneficial monounsaturated fat, avocado slows digestion and helps keep blood sugar from spiking after a meal. A diet high in good fats may even help reverse insulin resistance, which translates to steadier blood sugar long-term. Try putting mashed avocado on sandwiches instead of mayonnaise or on bread instead of butter. To keep what’s left over from turning brown, spritz the flesh with cooking spray or coat with lemon juice and wrap in plastic. (If you love caprese salad, this avocado caprese crostini won’t disappoint!)
Avocado can protect your unborn baby-and your heart
One cup of avocado provides almost a quarter of your recommended daily intake of folate, a vitamin which cuts the risk of birth defects. If you’re pregnant-or planning to be-avocados will help protect your unborn baby.
A high folate intake is also associated with a lower risk of heart attacks and heart disease. Does your family have a history of heart problems, or do you have risk factors (such as being overweight or smoking) for heart disease? Avocados could help keep your heart healthy.
Avocado can help lower your cholesterol
As well as increasing feelings of fullness, the oleic acid in avocados can help reduce cholesterol levels. In one study, individuals eating an avocado-rich diet had a significant decrease in total cholesterol levels, including a decrease in LDL cholesterol. Their levels of HDL cholesterol (the healthy type) increased by 11 percent.
High cholesterol is one of the main risk factors for heart disease. The cholesterol-lowering properties of avocado, along with its folate content, help keep your heart healthy. (If you’re not exactly a fan of avocado, try these fruits and veggies to help prevent high cholesterol.)