Thursday, March 20, 2014

Avocado Benefits: Top 10 Health Benefits of Eating Avocado

 

Reasons Avocado is One of the Best Food In The Entire World

The avocado (Persea americana) is a fruit-bearing tree native to Mexico and Central America, classified in the flowering plant family Lauraceae along with cinnamon, camphor and bay laurel. Avocado or alligator pear also refers to the fruit, botanically a large berry that contains a single seed.

The avocado got its name from the ancient Aztec word for testicle, and acquired a salacious reputation as an aphrodisiac, which is no doubt why Spanish monks banned it from monastery gardens after the conquistadors brought it back from Mexico. Nowadays, it’s enjoying something of a renaissance. This time round, though, nutritionists are focusing not on its romantic benefits but its health benefits. Avocados are now often included in that band of select foods dubbed ‘super foods’ because of their special nutritional value.

avocado-benefits-top-10-health-benefits-of-eating-avocado

Avocados are commercially valuable and are cultivated in tropical and Mediterranean climates throughout the world. They have a green-skinned, fleshy body that may be pear-shaped, egg-shaped, or spherical. Commercially, they ripen after harvesting. Trees are partially self-pollinating and often are propagated through grafting to maintain a predictable quality and quantity of the fruit.

Avocados contain a special kind of sugar that helps prevent low blood sugar, so may be the ideal diet food.

1) Cardiovascular Health

Avocados are also thought to help protect against heart disease by lowering blood pressure. Bananas are often advocated for their blood-pressure benefits because they are rich in potassium, but avocados contain two-and-a-half times as much. They are also rich in magnesium, which is again good for blood pressure.

Avocado contains vitamin B6 and folic acid, which help regulate homocysteine levels. High level of homocysteine is associated with an increased risk of heart disease. Avocado also contains vitamin E, glutathione, and monounsaturated fat, which help in maintaining a healthy heart.

Coronary heart disease is still one of the biggest killer in the United States and is essentially a disease of inflammation. Some experts believe society’s much increased use of processed vegetable oils, high in pro-inflammatory omega-6 fats are a significant factor in cardiovascular disease. They advise lowering our intake of polyunsaturated fats and increasing the amount of monounsaturated fatty acids in our diet.

2) Control Blood Pressure

First of all, avocado is thought to be good for blood cholesterol levels, and so for protection against heart disease. It’s high in fat, so is both filling and full of energy, but it’s the right kind of fat: monounsaturated fats. Avocados are rich in fibre and in plant chemicals called beta-sitosterol, which both help lower cholesterol. Australian research showed that eating half to one and- a-half avocados a day for just three weeks could significantly reduce levels of the ‘bad’ LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol while maintaining levels of the ‘good’ HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. Some researchers predict that heart patients could cut their risk of heart disease by 10–20% and their rate of death by 4–8% by eating an avocado a day over three years.

Avocados are also a great source of potassium, which helps in controlling blood pressure levels.

Medical researchers recommends that eating avocados could help lower levels of bad cholesterol. A study published in the Archives of Medical Research found that an "avocado enriched diet can improve lipid profile in healthy and especially in mild hypercholesterolemic patients, even if hypertriglyceridemia (combined hyperlipidemia) is present."

After a week of following the avocado enriched diet the patients experienced a 22% decrease in bad cholesterol and triglyceride levels and an 11% increase in good cholesterol.

3) Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Phytonutrient compound found in avocados, such as polyphenols and flavonoids have been found to have anti-inflammatory properties, thereby reducing the risk of inflammatory and degenerative disorders.

4) Avocado Benefits for Skin

Nutritional perks aside, avocados can play a key role in your healthy hair and skin routine. The antioxidants, amino acids and essential oils inside an avocado can help repair damaged hair, moisturize dry skin, treat sunburns and maybe even minimize wrinkles.

The monounsaturated fats in avocado are also beneficial for improving your skin tone. They are vital for maintaining good moisture levels in the epidermal layer of your skin that make it look and feel soft and healthy.

Avocado benefits also include protecting your skin from wrinkles and other visible signs of aging with its antioxidant carotenoids; vitamin E which helps guard against photo-aging from sun exposure; and vitamin C which is involved in the creation of elastin and collagen for maintaining your skin’s elasticity and firmness.

5) Avocados and Weight Loss

Many people would be surprised that a food high in fat and calories would be considered good for weight loss. However research has shown that monounsaturated fatty acids are more likely to be used as slow burning energy than stored as body fat.

This slow burning energy and the feeling of satiety or satisfied fullness that you get from eating an avocado is one of the reasons they are known for reducing hunger and appetite.

6) Avocados may Promote a Healthy Body Weight and BMI

In a scientific study titled "Avocado consumption is associated with better diet quality and nutrient intake, and lower metabolic syndrome risk in US adults", also found that people who ate avocados were more likely to have a lower body weight, BMI (body mass index), and waist circumference.

7) Anti-aging Properties

Being rich in antioxidants, avocado is beneficial in preventing aging symptoms. The glutathione in avocado may boosts immune systems, slows aging process, and encourages a healthy nervous system.

8) Avocado May Increase Nutrient Absorption

Avocado intake is linked with an increased nutrient absorption. A study suggests that, when participants ate salad included avocados, they absorbed five times the amount of carotenoids (a group of nutrients that includes beta carotene and lycopene) than those who did not include avocados.

9) Prevent Arthritis

The high levels of potassium in avocados are another important nutritional factor for diabetics due to its role in maintaining a healthy heart and regulating blood sugar.

Osteoarthritis is a painful disease of joint inflammation and soreness that affects millions of friendly people in the United States. Many common foods like wheat, corn, milk and sugar are known to worsen symptoms, but anti-inflammatory avocado is one of the few foods consistently reported to reduce arthritic pain.

10) Avocados May Help Prevent Cancer

Some researchers argue that avocados can protect against certain kinds of cancer, supplying antioxidants to clean-up the free radicals that are thought to be cancer-causing. Avocados contain more of the antioxidant vitamin E, plus three times as much of the antioxidant glutathione, than any other fruit. Diabetes organizations often advise people with Type 2 diabetes to eat avocados, too. They believe that not only do the avocado’s contents of monounsaturated fat and triglyceride help protect against the heart disease linked to diabetes, but its high fibre content counters many of the effects of diabetes, including regulating insulin levels.

Avocados are rich in phytochemicals, which have been reported to help prevent the development of certain cancers. A team of scientists who examined the chemopreventive characteristics of avocados concluded that "individual and combinations of phytochemicals from the avocado fruit may offer an advantageous dietary strategy in cancer prevention."

11) Prevent Diabetes

Extracts of avocado have been studied in laboratory research to assess potential for lowering risk of diabetes mellitus.

And finally, recent research has shown that avocados contain a kind of sugar that helps prevent blood sugar levels from dropping. This isn’t only good for diabetics, but may also make avocados the perfect diet food. People are often spurred to eat more carbohydrate-rich food as their blood sugar levels drop. If their blood sugar stays at normal levels, they won’t feel the need to eat to raise it.

None of the benefits of the avocado are fully proven yet. But there is enough suggestive evidence to make it worthwhile for all of us to eat avocados more often.


NUTRITIONAL VALUE OF AVOCADO AND NUTRITION FACTS

1) Avocados have diverse fats.

2) About 75% of an avocado's energy comes from fat, most of which (67% of total) is monounsaturated fat as oleic acid.

3) Other predominant fats include palmitic acid and linoleic acid.

4) The saturated fat content amounts to 14% of the total fat in a single serving of avocado while containing zero cholesterol.

5) Typical total fat composition is roughly (rounded to digits): 1% ω-3, 14% ω-6, 71% ω-9 (65% oleic and 6% palmitoleic), and 14% saturated fat (palmitic acid).

6) On a weight basis, avocados have 35% more potassium (485 mg/100 g) than bananas (358 mg/100 g). They are rich in folic acid and vitamin K, and are good dietary sources of vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E and pantothenic acid.

7) Avocados have a high fiber content of 75% insoluble and 25% soluble fiber.

8) High avocado intake was shown in one preliminary study to lower blood cholesterol levels. Specifically, after a seven-day diet rich in avocados, mild hypercholesterolemia patients showed a 17% decrease in total serum cholesterol levels. These subjects also showed a 22% decrease in both LDL (harmful cholesterol) and triglyceride levels and 11% increase in HDL (helpful cholesterol) levels. A 2013 epidemiological report showed that American avocado consumers had better overall diet quality, nutrient levels, and reduced risk of metabolic syndrome.

9) A Japanese team synthesized the four chiral components of avocado, and identified (2R, 4R)-16-heptadecene-1, 2, 4-triol as a potential antibacterial component. Due to a combination of specific aliphatic acetogenins, avocado is under preliminary research for potential anti-cancer activity.


AVOCADO'S NUTRIENT CONTENTS AND BENEFITS

Avocados contribute nearly 20 vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, including 4% of the recommended Daily Value (DV) for vitamin E, 4% vitamin C, 6% folate, 8% fiber, 2% iron, 4% potassium, with 81 micrograms of lutein and 19 micrograms of beta-carotene.

Amount per serving (1-oz) 2-3 thin slices

Dietary Fiber (2 g)
Dietary fiber is the non-digestible form of carbohydrates and lignin. Dietary fiber naturally occurs in plants, helps provide a feeling of fullness, and is important in promoting healthy laxation. Dietary fiber that occurs naturally in foods may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. Children and adults should consume foods naturally high in dietary fiber in order to increase nutrient density, promote healthy lipid profiles and glucose tolerance, and ensure normal gastrointestinal function.

Folate/Folic Acid (27 mcg)
Folate helps produce and maintain new cells. This is especially important during periods of rapid cell division and growth such as infancy and pregnancy. Folate is needed to make DNA and RNA, the building blocks of cells. Both adults and children need folate to make normal red blood cells and prevent anemia. Folate is also essential for the metabolism of homocysteine, and helps maintain normal levels of this amino acid.

Iron (0.2 mg)
Iron carries oxygen throughout your body so cells can produce energy. When levels of iron are low, fatigue, weakness and poor tolerance to temperature extremes often result.

Magnesium (9 mg)
Magnesium in the body serves several important functions: contraction and relaxation of muscles, function of certain enzymes in the body, production and transport of energy, production of protein.

Potassium (150 mg)
Dietary potassium can lower blood pressure by blunting the adverse effects of sodium on blood pressure. Other possible benefits of an eating pattern rich in potassium include a reduced risk of developing kidney stones and decreased bone loss.

Niacin (Vitamin B3) (0.6 mg)
Niacin, is a B-vitamin, it helps the digestive system, skin, and nerves to function. It is also important for converting food to energy.

Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) (Less than 0.1 mg)
Riboflavin (vitamin B2) works with the other B vitamins. It is important for body growth and red blood cell production and helps in releasing energy from carbohydrates.

Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5) (0.4 mg)
Pantothenic acid, is a B-vitamin and is essential for growth. Along with biotin, it helps the body break down and use food. Pantothenic acid also plays a role in the production of hormones and cholesterol.

Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6) (0.1 mg)
Pyridoxine (vitamin B6), also a B-vitamin, helps the body to: make antibodies (antibodies are needed to fight many diseases), maintain normal nerve function, make hemoglobin (hemoglobin carries oxygen in the red blood cells to the tissues), break down proteins and keep blood sugar (glucose) in normal ranges.

Thiamin (Vitamin B1) (Less than 0.1 mg)
Thiamin (vitamin B1), also one of the B-vitamins, helps the body's cells convert carbohydrates into energy. It is also essential for the functioning of the heart, muscles, and nervous system.

Vitamin E (0.59mg)
The body also needs vitamin E to boost its immune system so that it can fight off invading bacteria and viruses. It helps to widen blood vessels and keep blood from clotting within them. In addition, cells use vitamin E to interact with each other and to carry out many important functions.

Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) (2.6 mg)
Vitamin C is important for your skin, bones, and connective tissue. It promotes healing and helps the body absorb iron.

Vitamin K (6.3 mcg)
Vitamin K helps your body by making proteins for healthy bones and tissues. It also makes proteins for blood clotting. If you don't have enough vitamin K, you may bleed too much.


CULINARY USES OF AVOCADO

The fruit of horticultural cultivars has a markedly higher fat content than most other fruit, mostly monounsaturated fat, and as such serves as an important staple in the diet of various groups where access to other fatty foods (high-fat meats and fish, dairy products, etc.) is limited.

A ripe avocado yields to gentle pressure when held in the palm of the hand and squeezed. The flesh is prone to enzymatic browning; it turns brown quickly after exposure to air. To prevent this, lime or lemon juice can be added to avocados after they are peeled.

The fruit is not sweet, but rich, and distinctly yet subtly flavored, and of smooth, almost creamy texture. It is used in both savory and sweet dishes, though in many countries not for both. The avocado is very popular in vegetarian cuisine, as substitute for meats in sandwiches and salads because of its high fat content.

Generally, avocado is served raw, though some cultivars, including the common Hass, can be cooked for a short time without becoming bitter. Caution should be used when cooking with untested cultivars; the flesh of some avocados may be rendered inedible by heat. Prolonged cooking induces this chemical reaction in all cultivars.

1) It is used as the base for the Mexican dip known as guacamole, as well as a spread on corn tortillas or toast, served with spices.

2) In the Philippines, Brazil, Indonesia, Vietnam, and southern India (especially the coastal Kerala and Karnataka region), avocados are frequently used for milkshakes and occasionally added to ice cream and other desserts. In Brazil, Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia, a dessert drink is made with sugar, milk or water, and pureed avocado. Chocolate syrup is sometimes added. In Morocco, there is a similar chilled avocado and milk drink, that is sweetened with confectioner's sugar and hinted with orange flower water.

3) In Ethiopia, avocados are made into juice by mixing them with sugar and milk or water, usually served with Vimto and a slice of lemon. It is also very common to serve layered multiple fruit juices in a glass (locally called Spris) made of avocados, mangoes, bananas, guavas and papayas. Avocados are also used to make salads.

4) Avocados in savory dishes, often seen as exotic, are a relative novelty in Portuguese-speaking countries, such as Brazil, where the traditional preparation is mashed with sugar and lime, and eaten as a dessert or snack. This contrasts with Spanish-speaking countries, such as Mexico or Argentina, where the opposite is true and sweet preparations are often unheard of.

5) In Australia and New Zealand, it is commonly served in sandwiches, sushi, on toast, or with chicken. In Ghana, it is often eaten alone in sliced bread as a sandwich. In Sri Lanka, well ripened flesh, thoroughly mashed with sugar and milk, or treacle (a syrup made from the nectar of a particular palm flower) was once a popular dessert. In Haiti it is often consumed with cassava or regular bread for breakfast.

6) In Mexico and Central America, avocados are served mixed with white rice, in soups, salads, or on the side of chicken and meat. In Peru, they are consumed with tequeños as mayonnaise, served as a side dish with parrillas, used in salads and sandwiches, or as a whole dish when filled with tuna, shrimp, or chicken.

7) In Chile, it is used as a puree with chicken, hamburgers, and hot dogs; and in slices for celery or lettuce salads. The Chilean version of Caesar salad contains large slices of mature avocado.

8) In Kenya and Nigeria, the avocado is often eaten as a fruit, and is eaten alone, or mixed with other fruits in a fruit salad, or as part of a vegetable salad.

9) In Iran, it is used as a rejuvenating facial cream.

10) Avocado slices are frequently added to hamburgers, tortas, hot dogs, and carne asada. Avocado can be combined with eggs (in scrambled eggs, tortillas or omelettes), and is a key ingredient in California rolls and other makizushi ("maki", or rolled sushi).

11) In southern Africa, Avocado Ritz is a common dish.

12) In the United Kingdom, the avocado became widely available in the 1960s when it was introduced by Sainsbury's under the name 'avocado pear'.



References:


Boning, Charles. 2006. Florida's Best Fruiting Plants: Native and Exotic Trees, Shrubs, and Vines. Sarasota, Florida: Pineapple Press, Inc.

Bruce Shaffer, B. Nigel Wolstenhome and Anthony W. Whiley, ed. 2012. The Avocado: Botany, Production and Uses. CABI. ISBN 9781845937010.

Jules Janick, ed. 2008. The Encyclopedia of Fruit & Nuts. Oxforshire, England: CABI. p. 440. ISBN 9780851996387.

Lopez Ledesma, R; Frati Munari, A C: Hernandez Dominguez, B C: Cervantes Montalvo, S: Hernandez Luna, M H: Juarez, C: Moran Lira, S. 1996. "Monounsaturated fatty acid (avocado) rich diet for mild hypercholesterolemia". Arch-Med-Res. 27 (4): 519–23. PMID 8987188.

Sugiyama, Takeyoshi; Sato, Akemi and Yamashita, Kyohei. 1982. "Synthesis of All Four Stereoisomers of Antibacterial Component of Avocado". Agricultural and Biological Chemistry 46 (2): 481–485. doi:10.1271/bbb1961.46.481.

Victor L Fulgoni, Mark Dreher and Adrienne J Davenport. 2013. "Avocado consumption is associated with better diet quality and nutrient intake, and lower metabolic syndrome risk in US adults: results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001–2008" Nutrition Journal doi:10.1186/1475-2891-12-1.

Ding H, Chin YW, Kinghorn AD, D'Ambrosio SM. 2007. "Chemopreventive characteristics of avocado fruit." Semin Cancer Biol. (5):386-94. Abstract. 

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