You’ve probably seen avocados being touted as a heart-healthy superfood in recent years. Realistically, the truth isn’t too far off from the hype. The next time you’re grabbing that burrito or turkey sandwich, you might want to consider adding a healthy dollop of guacamole. Here are four reasons that you should consider eating a little bit of avocado each day.
1. You may reduce your risk of heart disease.
Heart disease is the number 1 killer in the United States, affecting nearly 27 million adults, so it only makes sense that we would want to protect ourselves by being more health-conscious in our dietary choices. Avocados have been shown to positively benefit our cardiovascular system in a number of ways due to its low saturated fat and high unsaturated fat content (predominantly the monounsaturated fat (MUFA) variety). Consuming excess saturated fat (>10% of total calories) may raise your LDL and HDL cholesterol and triglycerides. On the contrary, consuming adequate unsaturated fat in your diet may help lower LDL-cholesterol (bad cholesterol), maintain HDL-cholesterol (good cholesterol) and potentially improve your insulin sensitivity.
In addition its nutritious fat content, avocados also contain a potent mix of nutrients (e.g., potassium and lutein), including plenty of antioxidants such as carotenoids, callexanthophylls and phenols. These compounds can help prevent inflammation and oxidative stress in the blood vessels while facilitating improved blood flow.
2. You may have an easier time maintaining your weight
Eating fat to lose fat; who would have thought? Avocados can help with weight-loss and maintaining a healthy BMI by promoting a feeling of satiety. A recent study showed that including avocado in meals helped extend feelings of fullness and reduced the desire to overindulge. The belly-filling properties of avocados is aided by their high fiber content, about 14g per fruit on average. In addition, higher avocado consumption has been associated with smaller waistlines and lower BMIs in observational studies. Lastly, some research has even shown that weight-loss diets higher in MUFA, like the kind avocados are packed with, may prove healthier for your heart than low-fat weight-loss diets.
3. You might reduce your risk of cancer
Avocados provide us with numerous phytochemicals that may help prevent cancer, including the previously discussed xanthophylls and phenols. A protein compound called glutathione, along with the xanthophyll lutein (both found in avocados), have been associated with decreased rates of oral cancer. Preliminary data also show promising results for avocados’ potential role in reducing risk of both breast and prostate cancers. Additionally, preliminary studies demonstrate that a specific type of fav derived from avocados is able to exert anti-cancer effects on acute myeloid leukemia cells. Together, these studies show that further research needs to be conducted to draw more conclusive results.
4. You will protect your skin and eyes well into old age
As it turns out, avocado carotenoids do quite a number of things for our body. Both lutein and another compound found in avocados called zeaxanthin can slow age-related ocular decline and prevent vision dysfunction. In addition, these same two nutrients also act as buffers against oxidative UV damage, keeping our skin smooth and healthy. The bioavailability (ease of absorption by our body) of carotenoids from avocados compared to many other fruits and vegetables makes eating avocados every day a sensible choice.
Recipes to try:
- ½ ripe avocado
- 1 ripe banana
- ½ cup low-fat yogurt
- ½ cup orange juice
- OPTIONAL: handful of ice
Combine ingredients into blender and mix.
Bacon Peach Guacamole
- 1 ripe peach
- 2 ripe avocados
- ¼ red onion, minced
- 2 strips bacon, crisped
- Salt and pepper to taste
Cut peaches into small dice and place in bowl. Mash avocados and combine with peaches. Crisp bacon in skillet, dice and add to bowl. Mince onion and add to guacamole. Enjoy with whole-grain tortilla chips.
Aside from the multitude of health benefits, avocados have the extra bonus of being a tasty, creamy food that can be incorporated into shakes, desserts, dips, and toppings. So don’t be afraid to add avocado!