(AscendHealthy)- Go ahead, eat your avocado toast! Not only is it delicious, it’s good for you too! On the outside, they aren’t always the prettiest fruit in the bowl, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find one that’s healthier.
Avocados Are Packed With the Good Stuff
In addition to tasting great by themselves or in your favorite recipes, avocados are one of the most important superfoods you can buy. They are packed with healthy fats and they’re also a good source of fiber, with 9.2 grams in each fruit. Avocados also provide excellent nutrition in the form of magnesium, potassium, vitamins A, C, and E, and other nutrients.
What can sometimes be more important than what a food provides, is what it doesn’t. One of the big things missing in an avocado is a large amount of sugar. Other things you won’t find are saturated fats and high levels of sodium.
What All This Goodness Is Good For
Besides being delicious, avocados have been shown to improve health in several areas. Here are a few to think about next time you’re in the produce department.
- Diabetes: Scientists based in Mexico ran a study on 16 women with diabetes. The women were put on a high-fat diet (most of the fat came from avocados). The results were significant, showing a 20 percent drop in triglycerides while a group on a higher-carbohydrate plan showed a seven percent drop. The lower your triglyceride levels, the better job your body is doing making energy and using insulin, thus reducing the risk of getting type 2 diabetes.
- Blood Pressure: Potassium lowers blood pressure… and avocados have more than twice the potassium as a banana. This makes them ideal weapons in the fight against high blood pressure. They are also high in magnesium, which relaxes blood vessels and promotes better blood flow, which also helps reduce the risk of strokes.
- High Cholesterol: There’s the good (HDL) and the bad (LDL). The key is to lower the bad without lowering the good, which is what typically happens with a low-fat, high-fiber diet plan. However, avocados contain monounsaturated fat (that’s the good kind). Research has shown that adding one avocado to your diet per day for three weeks can lower your LDL levels by up to eight percent, all while leaving your HDL levels intact.
- Cancer: Avocados are an excellent source of antioxidants, which play a big part in reducing the risk of several types of cancer. They help neutralize radicals in that can damage healthy cells. Research on vitamin C, for example, shows a lower rate of cervical, oral, stomach, lung and breast cancers. Glutathione, another antioxidant found in avocados, may help prevent throat cancer. Science has also determined that you can reduce your risk of certain types of cancer, including breast cancer and colon cancer, by following a high-fiber diet.
- Skin Health: While most benefits of avocados come from eating them (hello? guacamole!) the skin can also benefit from a topical application. Antioxidants again play a role as do the oils naturally found in them. You can keep your face hydrated with just a simple 10-minute mask of mashed avocados mixed with a little water or milk.
- Infertility: Folate is probably the one nutrient most thought of in terms of fertility. Studies have shown that proper levels in the body can improve chances of conception. Harvard research has taken this a step further with a study of in-vitro fertilization (IVF) patients, showing a higher success rate in women with higher folate levels.
Healthy Ways to Add More Avocados to Your Diet
No matter how you slice them, avocados are a versatile cooking ingredient. Besides perennial favorites like guacamole and as a toast-topper, you can add them to salads, sandwiches, and even as a garnish for soups. They also make a tasty and healthy hummus or a fun topping for tacos.
Yes, avocados can complement a wide variety of dishes, but they can do so much more. These strange-looking green/black fruits contain essential nutrients that can have a big impact on your health. Consider adding them to your balanced diet–and enjoy!
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