The leathery green appearance of the avocado made it known as the "alligator pear." Despite the scary nickname, this luscious soft fruit from an evergreen is nothing to fear. In fact, it is one of the most nutritious healthy fats you can have in your diet. Loaded with vitamins, minerals and monounsaturated fat, this fruit, though most abundant in the summer and fall, can be found year round in your local market. Here are several of the nutritional benefits you'll find in an avocado:
1. Healthy Fats
With all this worry about eating too much fat, we often neglect eating fats that are good for us. Avocado is rich in a heart-healthy fat called oliec acid. This monounsaturated fat has shown to help lower cholesterol. Studies conducted on individuals with moderately high cholesterol have shown a significant decrease in LDL cholesterol levels and increase in HDL levels after adding avocado to their diet 7 days a week.
2. Heart-Healthy Vitamins and Minerals
A cup of avocado provides 25% of your daily recommendation of potassium. Potassium is a mineral that helps to regulate your blood pressure. Getting your recommended amount of potassium will help to guard you against high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. Avocado also has a significant amount of a folate, another nutrient significant for heart health.
Avocado is an excellent source of vitamins K, B6 and C. It is also high in dietary fiber, folate and copper. Though it is high in fat, with nearly 80% of its calories produced from fat, this fruit offers a good source of clean fat, or oleic acid. Oleic acid helps to readily absorb nutrients from other fruits and vegetables.
3. Fighting Certain Cancers
Avocado is a concentrated source of carotenoid lutein and tocopherols (vitamin E). Recent studies have shown that extractions of these two nutrients significantly inhibit the growth of certain prostate cancer cells. Researchers found that the combination of carotenoid lutein, tocopherols and monounsaturated fat was a powerful combination against cancer. Avocado has also shown to significantly protect against breast cancer.
The phytonutrients found in Haas avocados, the most abundant of more than 500 varieties, have shown a significant strategy for fighting oral cancer, a disease with a 50% mortality rate. These nutrients have shown in studies to increase the amount of free radicals in oral cells known to kill cancer cells, but leave healthy cells unharmed.
4. Increase Nutrient Absorption
Many nutrients found in your favorite vegetables are lipophilic, meaning they are soluble in fat, not water. Tossing some avocado into your salad or adding it to your favorite omelette doesn't just add tons of flavor. Eating this rich, creamy fruit will help your body to absorb carotenoids, the orange or yellow pigments found in chloroplasts and chloroplasm of some plants, algae and fungus. To get the most benefit from your salad loaded with fresh veggies, add a few slices of avocado to your meal.
5. Fighting Fat and Losing Weight
How could you eat fat to loss fat? Healthy monounsaturated fats like those found in avocado actually help you lose weight and fight fat. Oleic acid increases your body's ability to metabolize fat and carbs, providing you with more energy throughout the day. Eating healthy fats also improves your satiety, leaving you feeling fuller longer.