The Four Most Important Health Benefits of Avocados
Avocado is a fruit whose name is derived from the Aztec word “ahuacatl.” It is also known as the “alligator pear,” due to its shape and leathery skin. Most important for those with cardiovascular disease (CVD), it is rich in oleic acid, which lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol, as well as blood-pressure-lowering potassium and heart-healthy folate which are all important health benefits of avocados.
- 1. The fat in avocados is heart healing. People often think they shouldn’t eat avocado because it is a “fatty” fruit. But this creamy teardrop-shaped fruit contains oleic acid, the same monounsaturated fat found in olive oil and known to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol.
A study published in the Archives of Medical Research showed that people with moderately high cholesterol levels who ate a diet high in avocados increased their levels of HDL (good) cholesterol by 11% and decreased their levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and total cholesterol.
2. Potassium abounds in avocados. Because adequate potassium serum levels help your heart squeeze blood through your body thousands of times a day, the USDA states: “Diets containing foods that are good sources of potassium and low in sodium may reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.” Reach for your avocado! Just 1 cup has about 100 mcg of potassium, 25% of your Daily Value (DV) for potassium.
3. Avocado is full of folate. Folate is an important B vitamin found in many green vegetables. Adequate intake is necessary in pregnant women to avoid neural tube problems in the embryo.
It’s also highly cardio protective. In a 14-year study of 80,000 women, researchers found that higher intakes of dietary folate resulted in a 55% lower risk of having heart attacks or fatal heart disease. One cup of avocado has 23% of the DV for folate.
4. Avocado improves the bio-availability of other nutrients. Some foods aid the digestion and absorption of nutrients — in other words, they make nutrients “bioavailable.”
A study published in the Journal of Nutrition wondered if fat-rich avocado would help with the absorption of fat-soluble antioxidants known as carotenoids. Surprise! Not only did it help but as little as 2 ounces of this creamy fruit eaten as part of a salad of carrots, lettuce and baby spinach resulted in 15:1 improved absorption of the antioxidant beta-carotene.
Adding a little avocado to your meal could also result in the better absorption of other fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K. Low concentrations of vitamins A and E and beta-carotene are associated with early atherosclerosis. So save those arteries — eat avocados.
Jim Healthy is founder of the popular website MyHealingKitchen.com and
is its current Food Editor. He is the co-author The Healing Kitchen (Bottom Line Books,
2011), Arthritis Interrupted (Jim Healthy Press, 2009), and The 30-Day Diabetes Cure
(Jim Healthy Press, 2010).