Mexico’s gift to the world, it’s the super food that flies off the shelves as quickly as it is stocked up. Avocados, originally cultivated in Mexico as early as 500BC, are not a new ‘fad’ food, they are the real deal. When we speak about whole foods, an avocado really does tick all the boxes, it even comes with its own packaging in the form of its skin. They require no preservatives, flavor enhancers or processing to be enjoyed as a healthy addition to your diet. Containing little to no sugar (0.2g per half) and being full of phytonutrients, an avocado packs a very nutrient dense punch! In a typical avocado, you’ll find magnesium, potassium (more than in a banana), sodium, folate, vitamin b-6, niacin, vitamins A, C, E, K – it may as well be a multivitamin and mineral as the list goes on.
The oil within an avocado consists of mainly heart healthy mono-unsaturated fats (71%) with poly-unsaturated fat making up 19% and the rest as saturated fats. As the avocado ripens the level of saturated fat decreases and mono-unsaturated fat increases (1). This high level of fat mean that the fat-soluble vitamins contained within an avocado can be utilized by the body.
In terms of carbohydrates, 80% of the carbohydrates within an avocado are dietary fiber (of which 70% are insoluble, 30% are soluble). This means that half an avocado (4.6g of fiber) can make up 1/3 of the dietary recommendations for fiber (14g). With a glycemic load of an avocado estimated at zero, it is the lowest sugar fruit (2), making it a perfect keto-friendly food!
5 Reasons to Eat Avocados
Avocados have demonstrated the ability to reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides while increasing HDL (good) cholesterol (5). This plays a huge role in heart health as lipid composition can greatly determine heart health and having higher levels of HDL cholesterol and lower levels of LDL and triglycerides is correlated with a lesser risk of developing Cardiovascular Heart Disease (CHD).
With huge links to better diet quality, nutrient intake and lower metabolic syndrome, avocados can be associated with improved weight management, hunger reduction, increased satiation, and reduced post-prandial blood glucose levels (4).
Lutein and other bioactive chemicals within avocados are associated with eye health and levels of these chemicals decrease as we grow older. The combination of mono-unsaturated fats and these certain bioactive chemicals suggest that nutrients found within avocados can contribute to key mechanisms that support eye health (6).
This super fruit even has its place in your skin care routine. Eating half an avocado a day can be great for your skin due to many of its bioactive compounds such as lutein. Lutein’s anti-oxidant capacity acts to protect the skin by filtering high-energy wavelengths of UV (ultra-violate) light reducing the oxidative damage caused (6). This, along with the oily mono-unsaturated fats found in avocados, makes an avocado a great addition to any lifestyle.
Great research is on-going looking at the relation between anti-carcinogens and avocados. With many bio-active phytochemicals – which have been reported to have anti-carcinogenic properties, the concentrations look to be great enough to support this mechanism. Although the studies are currently in the preliminary stages (3).
Avocados are a staple within the ketogenic diet, this is not just due to its high fat content. Avocados have many other health benefits. With its high concentration of many valuable nutrients and its partitioning of fats, an avocado a day may well keep the doctor away.
- Carvalho, C. P., Bernal, E., Velásquez, M. A., Cartagena, V., & Régulo, J. (2015). Fatty acid content of avocados (Persea americana Mill. cv. Hass) in relation to orchard altitude and fruit maturity stage. Agronomía Colombiana, 33(2), 220-227.
- Dreher, M. L., & Davenport, A. J. (2013). Hass avocado composition and potential health effects. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition, 53(7), 738-750.
- Flagg, E. W., Coates, R. J., Jones, D. P., Byers, T. E., Greenberg, R. S., Gridley, G., ... & Schoenberg, J. B. (1994). Dietary glutathione intake and the risk of oral and pharyngeal cancer. American journal of epidemiology, 139(5), 453-465.
- Fulgoni, V. L., Dreher, M., & Davenport, A. J. (2013). Avocado consumption is associated with better diet quality and nutrient intake, and lower metabolic syndrome risk in US adults: results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001–2008. Nutrition journal, 12(1), 1.
- López, L. R., Frati, M. A., Hernández, D. B., Cervantes, M. S., Hernández, L. M., Juárez, C., & Morán, L. S. (1996). Monounsaturated fatty acid (avocado) rich diet for mild hypercholesterolemia. Archives of medical research, 27(4), 519-523.
- Roberts, R. L., Green, J., & Lewis, B. (2009). Lutein and zeaxanthin in eye and skin health. Clinics in dermatology, 27(2), 195-201.