10 reasons you need avocados

Did you know there’s a fruit (yes, avocado is a fruit) that guards against disease in every single organ in your body? It makes your hair shine, softens wrinkles, and even treats sunburn. Oh, and it fights cancer.

Over 10,000 years ago, Mesoamericans in what is now Mexico were breeding avocados for use as an aphrodisiac. Oddly enough, its name actually derives from the Nahuatl word for ‘testicle.’

Our fascination with the humble avocado continues to this day…

Last year alone, Americans ate about 45 million pounds of this super fruit. And you know what? They’re really on to something… you should be, too!

The amazing avocado

The health benefits of this single-seeded berry are unmatched by any other fruit or vegetable. Avocados are low in calories, have more potassium than a banana and more protein than any other fruit.

Half an avocado has 4.6g of dietary fiber and only 0.2g of sugar. It offers daily values of magnesium, potassium, folate, pantothenic acid and Vitamins B6, C, E and K ranging from six to 19 percent.

Here are 10 ways avocados can keep you healthy:

  1. They’re rich in monosaturated fats. It’s not surprising that eating avocados can lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. In six separate studies, researchers in Mexico and South Africa have shown that avocados can:
  • Reduce total cholesterol levels
  • Reduce blood triglycerides by up to 20%
  • Lower LDL cholesterol by up to 22%
  • Increase HDL (“good”) cholesterol by up to 11%
  1. They’re high in potassium. In fact, a 3.5-ounce serving has 14% RDA for potassium, compared to bananas with 10%. Potassium deficiency is quite common and can increase the risk of heart attack, strokes and kidney failure.
  2. They’re full of fiber. Despite its creamy texture, half an avocado has 6-7g of fiber to aid in digestion and lower the risk of colon cancer.
  3. They keep your vision strong. Lutein and zeaxanthin are two phytochemicals the eye needs to provide antioxidant protection from ultra-violet light. Avocados are high in both these nutrients and can lower risk for cataracts and macular degeneration in aging eyes.
  4. They strengthen bones. Half an avocado has 25 percent of the daily recommended intake of Vitamin K, which helps your bones absorb calcium.
  5. They keep your heart healthy. Plant phytosterols help to control the amount of cholesterol your body absorbs. Avocados have a whopping 25 mg. per ounce of beta-sitosterol, a common phytosterol.
  6. They’re cancer fighters. Avocados contain cancer-fighting nutrients like:
  • Lutein – Besides being good for eyesight, lutein has been shown to lower rates of breast cancer
  • Glutathione – The body’s master antioxidant, glutathione allows the liver to effectively detoxify the body and protect against cancer-causing oxidative stress.
  • Oleic acid – Research has shown that women who eat foods rich in oleic acid have a reduced chance of developing breast cancer.

Researchers at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, found that avocatin B, a type of lipid-derived from the avocado, can target the stem cells that cause acute myeloid leukemia, a deadly illness that when it occurs in people over 65, has a 90 percent death rate within five years.

  1. They help prevent depression. Avocados are rich in folate, which prevents the buildup of homocysteine, a substance that interferes with the hormones that regulate mood, sleep and appetite.
  2. They keep you trim. The healthy fats in an avocado actually help with weight loss, and the fiber content keeps you feeling full.
  3. They help you get your vitamins. The vitamin-rich foods you eat are only healthful to the extent your body can absorb those vitamins. The fats in avocados help your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins like Vitamins A, D, E and K

How to use avocados

Notice I said “use,” not just “eat.” Avocados are nutritious, no doubt, but the alligator-skinned fruit is also great to use on your skin and hair…

A face mask made of mashed avocado mixed with honey, oatmeal, or yogurt moisturizes skin naturally and works to reduce wrinkles.

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Use avocado mixed with honey and olive or coconut oil as a natural leave-in hair conditioner. Apply it to your hair, wrap hair in a towel or use a shower cap, and wash out after about an hour for soft, shiny hair without nasty chemicals.

How to buy and eat avocados

A ripe avocado will yield slightly to pressure when you squeeze it. If your finger sinks right in, it’s already over-ripe.

Some ways to incorporate avocado into your diet:

  • Use it as a replacement for butter when you bake and mayonnaise in your salads.
  • Spread it on toast instead of butter.
  • Use it in smoothies, puddings and other recipes that call for a creamy texture.
  • Add it to scrambled eggs
  • Blend it with herbs, garlic and yogurt for a creamy salad dressing (and put some in your salad!)
  • Here are a few yummy avocado recipes to get you started:
  • And, there’s always guacamole!

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Sources:

  1. 12 Proven Health Benefits of Avocado — healthline.com
  2. 12 health benefits of avocado — medicalnewstoday.com
  3. Avocados: A Super Cancer Fighting Food — The Huffington Post
  4. Oleic acid induces apoptosis and autophagy in the treatment of Tongue Squamous cell carcinomasScientific Reports
  5. Targeting Mitochondria with Avocatin B Induces Selective Leukemia Cell DeathCancer Research
Joyce Hollman

By Joyce Hollman

Joyce Hollman is a writer based in Kennebunk, Maine, specializing in the medical/healthcare and natural/alternative health space. Health challenges of her own led Joyce on a journey to discover ways to feel better through organic living, utilizing natural health strategies. Now, practicing yoga and meditation, and working towards living in a chemical-free home, her experiences make her the perfect conduit to help others live and feel better naturally.