The fruit, avocado is native to South and Central Mexico. The fruit is like a large berry that contains a single large seed. It is popular worldwide in many cuisines, rich in Vitamin E, phytosterols, carotenoids and a good proportion of different variety of essential fats. Hence eating avocado has lot of health benefits.
They are famously known as ‘alligator pear’ as its outer surface is scale-like, like an alligator and it is in the shape of a pear.
Avocados are black green in color when unripe and turn black on ripening. It is a nutrient powerhouse and finds its way globally in various culinary as well as cosmetic preparations.
Avocados are used in salads, tacos, burgers, as dips and spreads, pizza toppings and in many other cuisines. Although the pulpy part of the fruit is the one that is always used, the pit or the seed of avocado also has something to offer.
The ancient tribal people in Central and South America also found utility in the seed of the avocado. It contains several nutrients like calcium, and magnesium, antioxidants and soluble fiber that helps in lowering the bad cholesterol and restore normal bowel function. The pit also has anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial benefits.
Most fruits contain higher amounts of carbohydrates in the form of natural fruit sugar, avocado is unique in its composition, as it is the only fruit that contains a high proportion of healthy fats.
About 70% of its calories come from fat, giving it the name – ‘butter fruit’. The yellow-green is the fruit pulp that is commonly consumed and the seed is discarded. However, there are many health benefits of the avocado seed as well.
Benefits of Avocado
Avocado is concentrated source of many nutrients like vitamin E, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, B complex vitamins, minerals like potassium, magnesium, zinc and manganese.
These vitamins and minerals are essential for many vital functions in the body. Not only this, but avocado also helps in better absorption of vitamins in the gut because of the high fat content
Since avocado contains high amounts of essential fatty acids, it is in fact cardio protective. Out of the total fat content, the maximum proportion of fat is monounsaturated fat – oleic acid which is also found in olive oil. This oleic acid helps in preventing the damage caused by free radicals, thus reduces inflammation and promotes heart health.
There have been studies to show that avocado, because of its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, helps in reducing cholesterol and triglyceride levels and thus prevent the development of heart disorders. Since they contain adequate quantities of potassium, it also helps in lowering blood pressure
Avocado contains a combination of both soluble and insoluble fiber. This is the icing on the cake as both soluble and insoluble fiber have numerous health benefits.
Soluble fiber improves gut health and maintains normal bowel function, while insoluble fiber helps to delay gastric emptying, increase satiety and maintain blood sugar levels in the normal range
Avocados contain carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin which are very powerful antioxidants that are also beneficial for good eye health. These substances absorb light waves that can potentially harm the vision. Research has shown that these carotenoids reduce the risk of developing age-related cataracts and macular degeneration
Because of the high fiber content, avocados increase satiety and keep the person full for longer. The composition of avocado is such that it contains low carbohydrates and high fat, along with other vital nutrients that better health benefits and help in losing or maintaining body weight
Research has shown that avocados contain a substance called as avocation B, which can kill leukemic cells and also help in reducing the odds of developing breast cancer. It is said to be protective against prostate cancer.
Avocados contain high amounts of folate, which if deficient, affects mood and makes people more prone to depression. Folate is also required for cell regeneration and folate helps in preventing birth defects in babies at the time of birth.
As it contains high quantities of B-complex vitamins like thiamine, riboflavin and niacin, which are crucial in producing energy by various chemical reactions in the body, avocados help in keeping the energy levels up
The anti-oxidant and vitamin C content in avocado helps in reducing signs of aging, stimulate wound healing and increase collagen production, thus promoting a healthy skin
Because of its Vitamin E content, avocados aid in protecting against age related neurological degeneration and development of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, which affects the memory, thinking and movement.
This is due to Vitamin E’s capacity to exert its function as a powerful antioxidant and prevent free radical damage
Avocados provide about 1/5th requirement of Vitamin K which helps in improving bone density and prevent possibility developing of fractures. Adding sources like egg, tofu, spinach along with avocado in a salad, can further improve bone health.
Additionally, owing to its anti-inflammatory properties, avocados are protective against diseases such as arthritis and osteoarthritis and reduce swelling and joint pain
Avocado is a natural home remedy for a glowing, beautiful skin. The natural anti-oxidants in this fruit reduce the UV damage on the skin, and age-related fine lines and wrinkles.
Many commercial face masks and scrubs contain avocado as an ingredient in them. It could be a replacement to all the fancy and chemical loaded cosmetic products for skin care and anti-aging treatment
Some studies have suggested that avocados have health benefits in boosting fertility and improve the chances of conceiving.
There are several ways in which one can incorporate avocados in the daily diet. They can eat them raw like any other fruit or can add them to salads, soups, smoothies, pizzas, toasts. They can also make spreads or dips (guacamole) or a dessert with Avocados. The people who consume more avocados are healthier overall than the ones who do not.
They have low rates of metabolic syndrome, slimmer waistlines, less belly fat and good heart health.
Apart from its health benefits on skin, avocado oil is an excellent ingredient for a home-made hair shampoo and hair care products. It promotes healthy hair growth.
Whether one is using avocado oil for cooking or for cosmetic purpose, the source is very important.
Therefore, it is worthwhile to pick one that is natural, unprocessed and assures high quality standard. Both Avocado and avocado oil have numerous health benefits.