Popular trends are not always good — this is a good trend: American avocado consumption has multiplied 7 times over the last three decades. Its sales growth has been faster than that of any other fruit. There is an excellent reason for this: avocados are a phenomenal food. Using the Daily Value (DV) measure, a 3.5 ounce serving provides 14% potassium, 17% vitamin C, 20% folate, 10% vitamin E, and a whopping 26% vitamin K, plus up to 14% of B vitamins and 27% fiber. That’s more potassium than a banana, and only 160 calories. The fat is monounsaturated oleic acid, the same healthful fat that makes up 55% – 80% of olive oil.
Avocados are a “satisfying” food — those eating avocados feel satisfied longer than after eating many other foods. This can be helpful in weight reduction. Reducing calories while maintaining high nutrient intake is ideal for weight loss. The fat in avocado assists in the absorption of carotenoids, which are vital antioxidants, making it a great companion to other foods as well. Fresh green salad with avocado mixed in is a potent combination!
With so much value, avocados deserve the title of “superfood”.
Claims vary, but these benefits are almost unanimously attributed to avocado:
– Lowers cholesterol and triglycerides
– Reduces cancer risk
– Reduces risk of heart disease
– Boosts brain function and memory
– Lowers risk of depression
– Increases eye health
– Protects against periodontal (gum) disease
– Eases osteoarthritis
– Lowers high blood sugar
– Protects the liver
– Shows low pesticide levels (non-organic avocados still test 99% pesticide free)
– Prevents or slows progression of some neurodegenerative diseases
– Great during pregnancy, providing many particularly needed nutrients
– Improves healthy gut flora by acting as a prebiotic
The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey showed a 50% reduction in the odds ratio for metabolic syndrome in avocado consumers and an overall increase in nutrient intake. Tufts University showed a single avocado a day promoted a gradual increase in the lutein level in the eyes of participants, as well as better memory and attention levels, as compared with the control group which did not eat avocados. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study showing 1 to 3 avocados a day simultaneously decreased LDL levels and increased HDL by 2-3% and dropped triglycerides by 24%. HDL (the “good” cholesterol) sweeps up excess LDL and carries it to the liver which breaks it down, so the combined impact of avocados on cholesterol is huge. A Journal of Periodontology study found that avocado aids dental health by promoting Transforming Growth Factor-beta, which aids tissue regeneration in gums. A Mashhad University of Medical Sciences confirmed daily consumption of avocados improves blood sugar, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and lowers obesity — factors that make up the “metabolic syndrome”. The Physician and Sportsmedicine journal found evidence that avocados improve joint mobility in patients with osteoarthritis. There are many other studies that show specific avocado benefits!
Successful shopping for the proper ripeness and quality takes some practice. It is best to buy them green and hard. They will ripen over the next 2 to 4 days. Once the avocados have some give to them and they’re no longer hard then they may be eaten, or they may be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.
The cut avocado flesh oxidizes quickly. This can be slowed by coating the open surfaces with lemon juice. Only the portions that retain the soft green color are worth eating.
The most common form is the Haas avocado, but there are other varieties that are sometimes available, and over 50 varieties exist. The “Florida” or “Dominican” avocado is much larger, and contains much less good fat and does not tend to fill you up as the Haas variety does. The key is you want to eat avocados that have a significant fat content so that you get filled up. The Haas type does this quite well.
Dr. Nemec’s comments
Avocados are one of the perfect foods — a unique combination, being an oily fat and a fruit means they help curb carbohydrate cravings and are easy on the digestive tract. Since they are filling they also decrease over-eating of protein. They are truly an energy food having twice as many energy units as carbohydrates or proteins. Avocados have been an important part of our diet recommendation for the last 35 years. Everyone should be eating avocados.
Dr. Keith Nemec
Total Health Institute