What Are the Health Benefits of Avocados?
Although they were once avoided due to their high fat content, avocados have become increasingly trendy — and sought after. This uptick in excitement around avocados stems, in part, from recent nutrition research, which found that the type of fat contained in avocados can be beneficial to one’s health. Moreover, avocados may even help prevent certain diseases and health conditions due to their impressive nutrients and vitamins.
Vitamins and Nutrients Found in Avocados
Avocados are filled with vitamins and nutrients that can be beneficial when consumed as part of a balanced diet. Eating an avocado can help you take in:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin B6
- Folate (Vitamin B9)
- Monounsaturated fat
Vitamins A, C and E all act as antioxidants that can help prevent cell damage in the body. Avocados also contain a significant amount of potassium — even more than an average-sized banana. Additionally, vitamins A, E, and K are fat-soluble, meaning that they require fats to be digested and broken down in the body. The fats contained in avocados and avocado oil are predominantly monounsaturated. These monounsaturated fats are necessary sources of energy in the body, and also play important roles in cell development and protection, as well as nutrient absorption.
Furthermore, adding avocado to your diet during pregnancy can be beneficial for fetal development. For example, folate is critical for the proper development of a baby's brain and tissues. Additionally, vitamin B6 helps to reduce the nausea often associated with pregnancy.
Avocados Can Lower Your Risk for Serious Health Conditions
While you may be familiar with the vitamins and nutrients found in avocados, you may not know that they can help stave off serious medical conditions and events, including:
Heart Disease and Strokes: Since avocados contain almost a quarter of the recommended daily intake of folate, they are excellent for helping to prevent heart disease and strokes. The high potassium content in avocados is useful in regulating blood pressure and supporting muscle and cardiac function. Consuming avocados may also help to increase levels of HDL cholesterol, which can play a role in preventing certain circulatory conditions including high blood pressure, heart disease or strokes.
Certain Types of Cancer: Additionally, avocado extracts contain elements that have been linked to the prevention of certain types of cancer. For example, phytonutrients in avocados may work to prevent proliferation of colorectal cancer cells. Elements contained in avocados have been shown to damage cancer cell lines in breast, liver, lung, ovary and prostate tissue.
Cataracts or Macular Degeneration: A carotenoid called lutein found in avocados has been linked to better eye health. In fact, it may help to prevent serious eye diseases like age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Therefore, eating avocados regularly may help to maintain vision during the aging process.
Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis: Avocados are also well-known for their anti-inflammatory properties. The combination of nutrients like carotenoids, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids make avocados a great food to eat for those living with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. The nutrients found in avocados may help to prevent or relieve the inflammatory symptoms associated with these diseases.
Keep in mind that, while they can be beneficial for your health, avocados alone should not be used as a treatment for any particular condition or disease. As always, consult your doctor if you would like to incorporate avocados into your treatment or health regimen.
Medical content reviewed by Madeline Hubbard, RN, BSN.
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