The Amazing Avocado: Health Benefits You Need to Know

By , Lisa W., SparkPeople Contributor

It's no secret that delicious avocados can be the shining star in guacamole, salads, sandwiches and as the creamy center of your California roll. But did you know that avocados are packed with nutritients and make a great diet food, even with their high fat content?

Hass avocados are the most popular variety in the United States, but you can choose from dozens of types. Whatever variety you select, avocados should earn a spot on your plate for both their unparalleled taste and their various health benefits.

Vitamins, Minerals and More

Avocados provide vitamin b—noted for helping fight infections—along with vitamin c, vitamin e and a number of natural chemicals that may help ward off cancer, notes WebMD. In addition, a daily serving of avocado will deliver nearly 20 vitamins and minerals, including lutein, folate, vitamin k, magnesium, iron and phosphorus

Avocados also are high in fiber, which can aid digestion and contribute to feelings of fullness. They contain even more potassium per gram than bananas, plus beta-carotene and lycopene, which are vital antioxidants.

How Can Avocados Benefit Your Health?

Avocados can serve as a significant source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which can lower cholesterol and the risk for heart disease. In addition, avocados may contribute to health benefits including:

  • Reducing inflammation
  • Controlling blood sugar and blood pressure
  • Reducing the chances of cataracts and macular degeneration
  • Preventing birth defects such as spina bifida and neural tube defects
  • Reducing the risk of certain cancers, including those of the prostate, mouth and skin
  • Improving good digestion and regular bowel movements
  • Boosting the immune system
  • Keeping skin glowing and looking healthy
  • Reducing the risk of depression
  • Strengthening bones and reducing the risk of fractures

In a nutshell, eating avocados may help protect you from a variety of chronic diseases. High amounts of dietary fiber, such as those found in avocados, are associated with significantly reduced risk of developing stroke, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, coronary heart disease and some gastrointestinal illnesses.

The Perfect "Diet" Food

With their high fat content and relatively high calories—about 50 per ounce—avocados may not immediately spring to mind as a great food to eat when you’re dieting. But the truth is, avocados come with a number of perks that can boost your weight loss efforts.

In addition to lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, the ample fiber found in avocados can improve insulin sensitivity and make you feel more full. Much of the fat in avocados is the monounsaturated variety, which can help lower cholesterol and boost your cardiac health. Avocados also include a higher ratio of protein than other fruits, at about four grams.

Avocados also are low in sugar, helping you avoid the ravenous hunger that can accompany blood sugar swings. One study found that people who added half a fresh avocado to their midday meal were less hungry over the next three hours.

Despite the healthy nutritional profile, the delicious taste of avocados makes them easy to overeat. If you eat too many, that high fat content can lead to weight gain. Over-consuming avocados can also result in nutritional deficiencies due to the fact that it is digested slowly and leaves you feeling full for longer than do many types of foods.

Storage and Preparation

Avocados require a little TLC and forethought to ensure that they’re perfectly ripe at the right time. Store your fruit at room temperature, and expect it to take four days or so to ripen. To speed the process, place avocados in a paper bag with a banana or apple. Once the skin gives with gentle pressure and appears dark purple or black, you can eat them right away or refrigerate for later.

Be sure to wash your avocados well before cutting into them so that your knife doesn’t pick up dirt on the outside of the fruit and transfer it to the pulp.

Versatile and with a great taste that everyone can enjoy, it's high time to consider serving avocados as a main attraction in your healthy diet.


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Comments

ATEAMSIS08 5/23/2019
This is an awesome article. My one and only nephew loves avocados. Doesn't matter what restaurant we go to he always has his avocado. I've tried them but I just don't enjoy the texture Report
GGRSPARK 4/6/2019
We have plenty in Hawaii and thry are a staple while we are here. At home I buy little ones in a mesh bag and usually they are fine - no bad dpots. Lately I ‘ve been making guacamole and scooping it up with cucumber. Report
ICANBFUN 2/28/2019
I like making guacamole with avocados and dipping fresh vegetables in it. Report
XREPHA
Just had some avocado on nachos tonight. Delicious! Report
Even though it's brown and discolored, I still eat it🙌😀😀 Never got sick from eating that. If I have a sugar craving I eat avocado with a smidgen of sugar and milk like it's cereal. I eat 1/4 of a small avocado.👍 It's a small serving 😉😉 Report
4LMHJCR
I have been wanting to purchase avocados and try them and obviously add them to my diet, but the one time that I did purchase one and cut it, the uneaten portion from turning brown and going bad quickly. I did see a comment about adding a piece of onion in the air tight container with the avocado - but wouldn't that onion flavor get into the avocado? Report
FINALLY found a way to keep my uneaten avocado fresh a little longer. Tried the lemon and lime trick - didn't work. THIS DOES!! Store the uneaten half in a small airtighht container with a slice of onion under it! It really works!! Report
BENEVA5897
Enjoying avocado mashed on my toast with wilted spinach leaves and a soft cooked egg. Great breakfast Report
I used to bring these to work and just cut them in half and eat them with a spoon. Now that I'm retired and have more time I like to smash them up with a fork and mix in salsa (and various spices occasionally, depending on my mood), to make excellent guacamole, that I use as a dip for whole grain crackers. Report
I ate half of an avocado five days a week for three months and my good cholesterol went up 24 points!! Report
Great alternative to mayo! I like to buy them when they are just a bit tender and let them ripen for a day or two on the counter. Once the area around the stem easily indents - it's GO TIME!! Report
I use it in salads. I make a bastardized greek salad that has avocado, apples, feta, cucumber, and red onion with lime juice as a dressing. It's so good! Report
I wish there was an alternative to avocado...I'm allergic. :( Report
I love avocados and it's great to know that they can fit into a weight-loss plan. The article left me a bit confused though. We're encouraged to eat avocados, but warned not to overeat them. What is a recommended amount to eat per day, per week? Did I just miss something? Report
LCERTUCHE
Avocado spread on whole-wheat toast is a great addition to a veggie sandwich. Report
KAREN2LOSE55
I love it when I smash a small amount and put that on nutty toast and salt it a wee bit. No need for butter or anything else. Yummy with a glass of 1% milk! Report
KLEMIE
I love avocados. I eat them 3 or 4 times a week. They're really good mashed up and mixed with a little salsa and scrambled up with eggs. Yum! Report
BUDBUDDHA
I tried avocados at one time and didn't like the texture. I met a lady at the supermarket this week, and she encouraged me to try them again. She sang the avocado's praises and I will try them again. The article gives good info on when they are ripe. Thanks. Report
guacomole is really easy to make from avocados. A little seasoning and smashing it. I only use 2 Tablespoons in my salads. Makes it so filling. Report
Love avocados. Lots of good nutrition and calories. Just replace some other fats with good fats and it should balance out. Report
I have been adding avocado to my green smoothies for the creamy smooth taste and the best part is that I can't taste the avocado. I don't really like them any other way besides in my smoothies. After reading this I will make sure I continue to add them in my smoothies. Report
Love avocados. Some say they have too much fat to be healthy but I've never agreed with them and I've been proven correct. :-) Report
I always been reading and hearing that avocados are good.I need to buy more to add to my food. :) Report