FOOD

The Amazing Avocado

Easily overlooked, this unusual “fruit” is probably one of the most nutrient rich foods you can eat.  Its power packed with loads of health benefits.  Due to these various health benefits, this fruit is now grown in a number of countries. It has a very thick skin that protects it from pesticides. This is the reason you don’t need to buy organic avocados; it is one of the safest crops in terms of its low exposure to pesticides.

So, just what are the health benefits of an avocado?

  • Healthy for the heart.  Avocados contain a natural plant sterol, called beta-sitosterol.  Regular consumption of beta-sitosterol and other plant sterols has been seen to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
  • Great for vision.  Avocados contain lutein and zeaxanthin, two phytochemicals that are especially concentrated in the tissues in the eyes where they provide antioxidant protection to help minimize damage, including from ultraviolet light.  Also, as the monounsaturated fatty acids in avocados also support the absorption of other beneficial fat-soluble antioxidants, adding avocados to your diet may help to reduce the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration.
  • Health benefits of avocados include a lower risk of cancers, including breast cancer and prostate cancer.  Avocado contains carotenoids and monounsaturated fat, both of which contribute to the significant reduction of cancer.  Avocados also contain both vitamin C and E, which help enhance antioxidant properties of the human body.
  • Consuming avocados is also associated with healthy aging.  It contains compounds such as xanthophyll, which has antioxidant properties. Research studies suggest that an intake of xanthophyll may decrease signs of the aging process on various parts of your body.
  • Intake of foods such as avocados may help in reducing the risk of osteoarthritis.  Furthermore, the levels of essential minerals in avocados are significant, including zinc, phosphorous, copper, and trace amounts of calcium and selenium.  All of these are connected to lowered risks of osteoporosis and improvements in bone mineral density.  Multiple studies have shown that extracts from avocado and soybean oil, called Avocado and Soybean unsaponifiables, can reduce symptoms of arthritis of the bones, called osteoarthritis
  • Despite its creamy texture, an avocado is actually high in fiber with approximately 6-7 grams per half fruit.  Eating foods with natural fiber can help prevent constipation, maintain a healthy digestive tract, and lower the risk of colon cancer.  Adequate fiber promotes regular bowel movements, which are crucial for the daily excretion of toxins through the bile and stool.  High fiber intakes are associated with significantly lower risks of developing coronary heart disease, stroke and hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and certain gastrointestinal diseases. Increased fiber intake has also been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, improve insulin sensitivity, and enhance weight loss for obese individuals.
  • The avocado has certain organic compounds that help in improving liver health.
  • Avocados are packed with nutrients that are beneficial for maintaining healthy skin and hair.

You can tell how ripe an avocado is by gently pressing into the skin.  If the avocado is firm and does not budge, you will need to let it ripen for a few days before consuming.  Soft avocados make great guacamole or dip, while firmer avocados are great for slicing and adding to a salad or a sandwich.  To speed up the ripening process, place an avocado in a paper bag with a banana.

Food Ideas

  • Spread avocado on toast in the morning instead of butter.
  • Use avocado instead of mayonnaise in chicken or egg salad, or as a spread on a sandwich.
  • The soft, creamy texture of an avocado and its mild taste make it a perfect first food for babies.

There are so many ways you can enjoy an avocado.  Here are some delicious recipe ideas!

What more could you ask for in a food?

 

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