Avocados have been everywhere for the past few decades. From guacamole to avo toast, this food staple is wildly popular. Otherwise known by nicknames like alligator pear, midshipman’s butter, and butter pear, avocados are all the rage.
Technically a berry, they are grown in warm climates and have been consumed by humans for millennia, according to fossil evidence. Originating in Central America, avocados are now grown all over the world — from Israel to the Philippines, from New Zealand to the US. Lauded for their deliciousness and many uses, they also are famous for their serious health benefits and relatively low-cost nutritiousness.
Though popular now (even appearing on celebrity swimsuits), there was a time in the low-fat diet era when avocados were vilified. While they were not flying off the grocery stands back then, their resurgence seems to be unstoppable now as all evidence seems to point to the green goddess being an integral part of a balanced diet. Packed full of monounsaturated fatty acids, dietary fiber, and essential nutrients to help the body function at its best, consuming avocados is known to have tons of benefits. So what happens when you consume avocado everyday?
1…Reap anti-aging benefits with avocados
Ponce de Leon dedicated much of his life to finding the fountain of youth to no avail. Billions of bucks are spent every year nipping and tucking and injecting to stave off signs of aging. Reuters reported that the global anti-aging market will be worth $331.42 billion by 2021.The cost of creams, serums, oils, and toners that claim to have time-stopping qualities adds up.
It turns out, there is at least one solution that is not nearly that costly. Certified nutritionist and dietician Nicolette Pace told HuffPost, “Good skin relies on an adequate supply of essential nutrients. Some studies indicate that it is indeed possible to delay aging and get an improvement in skin condition by improving your diet.”
Since avocados are full of monounsaturated fat and essential fatty acids (aka EFAs), it is a perfect soldier in the battle against aging. According to a 2012 study, since the human body cannot create EFAs, we must get them through diet and, “EFAs are essential for the synthesis of tissue lipids.” In other words, as nutritionist Dana James told Elle, “The fat is so tiny it can slip through membranes and protect cells from free radical damage.”
2…Eat avocados to combat stress levels
Holy guacamole, modern life can be super stressful. Between work, family, friends, and myriad of responsibilities, humans are constantly looking for ways to wind down and chill out in our busy lives. While meditating, exercising, and having hobbies are great ways we all know help keep it all in perspective, eating avocados might just help bring those stress levels down by sneaking in through the digestive tract.
According to a study conducted by the University of Adelaide in Australia, low levels of magnesium can manifest in the form of stress-inducing “headaches, focal seizures, hyper-emotionality, generalized anxiety, panic attack disorders, insomnia, fatigue, and asthenia.” Certified Eating Psychology and Nutrition Expert Elise Museles told Elle, “Avocados are loaded with magnesium, the anti-stress nutrient. Magnesium helps you release tension and also sleep better. And when you’re relaxed and well rested, you’re more likely to have a positive outlook on life!”
Luckily, combating the effects of low levels of the mineral shouldn’t be too difficult if avocados are part of a daily diet. In every 50g of Hass avocado, there are 14mg of magnesium which is equivalent to 4 percent of the daily recommended intake.
3…Shed some pounds by adding avocados to your diet
While it might seem counterintuitive to eat food that is chock-full of fat when trying to shed excess weight (we have low-fat diet fads to thank for that line of thought), avocados are actually known to be quite helpful in the pursuit to shape up.
First things first, because they are full of essential nutrients and healthy fats, they aid in maintaining a sense of fullness after eating. In a 2013 study, participants reported feeling more satiated for three to five hours after consuming half an avocado which can result in less overall food consumption. Nutrition expert Beth Warren explained to Elle, “Because avocados have the healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, they contribute to satiety. Studies show it shrinks your waistline and contributes to a lower BMI and body weight when eaten in moderation.”
It is certainly true that avocado contains a lot of calories so it is super important to remember that consuming them in mass quantities can be counterproductive in the weight loss game. On Instagram, dietician Savino Rego suggests trying the simple trick of cutting calories by mixing in green peas with your avocado. You’ll still get the impact from the essential nutrients without packing on extra weight.
4…Avocados can help lower your risk of depression
It’s reported that about 322 million people around the world suffer from life-altering depression. Researchers at Our World In Data explained, “Depressed mood, loss of interest and enjoyment, and increased fatiguability are usually regarded as the most typical symptoms of depression.”
There are a myriad of ways to battle the blues and incorporating avocados into a daily diet can aid in the fight in a few different manners. Avocados are full of healthy fats. On the subject of consuming such fats, nutritionist Caroline Brown told HuffPost, “It’s crucial for every cell in your body — research shows a diet high in MUFAs (monounsaturated fatty acids) may reduce depression and be protective against cognitive decline as we age.”
Since they contain much magnesium and we know that magnesium aids in sleeping, avocados can mitigate fatigue. In addition, low levels of potassium have been shown to negatively affect brain function. Dr. Alyson Pidich, medical director of The Ash Center told US News and World Report, “some psychiatric issues like depression, psychosis or hallucinations that can be linked to low potassium.” Incorporating a daily dose of avocado may just have the mood brightening effect needed to jumpstart out of the blues and maintain a happier life.
5…Speed up post-workout muscle recovery with avocados
Hitting the gym or heading into the great outdoors for some exercise is certainly key to great health and longevity. Whether climbing mountains, pushing it to the limits on a Pilates reformer, squatting in your living room, or deadlifting serious poundage, strengthening muscles is a must for well-being. While the sense of accomplishment of completing a tough workout can put you on cloud nine, it can also result in serious residual muscle soreness.
In regards bouncing back from working out, sports nutritionist Cynthia Sass told GQ, “An ideal recovery meal should also include good fat, which is needed for healing muscles and joints.” And as we know, avocados contain lots of healthy fats. Additionally, muscles need amino acids to recover. According to what registered dietician and diabetes educator Maureen Eyerman told Elle, “this fleshy fruit contains all nine essential amino acids which are required for proper protein synthesis to help promote repair and recovery of muscles.”
Muscles also need potassium to recover properly, and avocados happen to have 250mg per serving of the mineral. Throw half an avocado in a smoothie or slip some slices in a post-workout omelette to help stave off those sore muscles.
6…Use avocados to up the ante on your heart health
Since cardiovascular disease is number one when it comes to claiming lives, it is crucial to keep the ticker in tip-top shape. According to the CDC, one out of four deaths in the U.S. is a result of heart disease and “every year about 735,000 Americans have heart attacks.” These are staggering statistics, to say the least. As the old adage goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” And an ounce of our old friend the avocado may contain just the kind of prevention we need.
When it comes to heart health, essential fatty acids found in avocados come into play. As spokesperson for the American Association of Diabetes Educators Sandra J. Arevalo told Elle, “Healthy fats help to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system and reduce risk of stroke, heart attack, and other cardiovascular diseases.”
Also, our old pal potassium is integral in keeping the heart operating at its best. Researchers have found that low-levels of the mineral contributes to cardiovascular issues and it may aid in preventing calcification in the arteries of the heart. At a whopping 364 mg per half cup, an avocado contains more potassium than a banana!
7…Strengthen nails by eating more avocados
Weak and brittle nails can be a source of constant frustration. Folks spend tons of time, energy, and moolah to try strengthening and protecting their nails. Not only can they be unsightly and annoying, thin or cracked nails can also be a window into overall health and reflect underlying issues or dietary deficiencies. Several of the necessary ingredients that help to ensure solid, healthy nails can be found in our friend the avocado.
Biotin, a water-soluble mineral, is one of these key components to making nails strong. According to an Oregon State University study, a biotin deficiency can result in weak and brittle nails. In fact, another study found that, “biotin in most cases provides an effective therapy for patients with weak and brittle nails.” Since avocados contain two to six micrograms of the mineral per fruit, they can be one of the best foods out there to ingest in order to get necessary amounts of biotin.
Iron is another necessary dietary component of healthy nails. In Podiatry Today, Kristine Hoffman, DPM outlined iron deficiency can result in brittle nails and grooved or “spoon-shaped” nails. Since avocados contain 0.9 mg per fruit, they can be effective in battling all symptoms.
8…Reduce fertility issues with avocados
In the quest to procreate, there can be endless frustrations and heartaches. The cost of treatments can be staggering and results in a $17 billion a year industry. While there is no one miracle cure for infertility, and no one’s saying that eating avocados will solve such a complex issue, dietary considerations have been known to aid in reproductive issues in both women and men.
A 2016 study found that “avocados contain several recommended nutrients for reproductive health such as folate, potassium, carotenoids, and other key compounds for general health such as fiber, MUFA, and antioxidants.” It went on to state, “Based on this review, avocados offer a range of beneficial nutrients that can make a substantial contribution to a nutrient-rich diet when offered as a staple food for the periconceptional period.”
Integrative nutritionist Alisa Vitti told Parents.com, “Studies have shown that consuming a certain quantity of monounsaturated fats in the form of avocados during the IVF cycle increased the success rate by three and a half times.” In addition, The Sydney Morning Herald reported on a study showing that men who consumed “antioxidants from foods rich in Vitamin E and beta-carotene” like avocado had increased fertility. Since their sperm contains higher levels of antioxidants, it more successfully navigates the female reproductive system.
9…keep hair healthy and shiny by consuming avocados
Lookfantastic.com conducted a study to find out what kind of money American women were dropping on healthcare and the findings were kind of astounding. According to their blog, women in the U.S. spend an average of $55,000 over the course of their lifetime on their hair. It turns out that adding avocado to a daily menu can mitigate hair loss AND help keep hair healthy.
Ever notice that many vitamins are sold as cures for hair and nails? That’s because they are made up of similar materials and therefore many of the vitamins and minerals are serviced by both. Take, for instance, biotin. If you aren’t getting enough of the vitamin it can result in hair loss. According to the National Institute for Health, “The signs and symptoms of biotin deficiency typically appear gradually and can include thinning hair with progression to loss of all hair on the body.” They say the recommended daily allowance for adults is 30 micrograms a day and avocados contain two to six micrograms per fruit.
As we know, avocados can be helpful in calming symptoms of stress, and, according to the Mayo Clinic, stress is known to be a major player in hair loss.
10…Improve vision by eating avocado-filled meals
Jeepers creepers, keeping your peepers healthy is important! Many of us naturally lose some of our healthy vision as we age, but there are ways to combat the slippery slope. Registered dietician and diabetes educator Maureen Eyerman told Elle that lutein, a carotenoid that is prevalent in avocados promotes healthy vision. Additionally, it turns out that in order for the body to absorb the carotenoid, it needs healthy fats — which the avocado provides as well. Looks like the fruit is one-stop healthy vision shop.
According to a 2017 study, lutein does double duty when it comes to vision as it aids in brain cognition of what the eyes are seeing. Washington Eye Physicians and Surgeons report that macular degeneration can occur in patients over the age of 60 and “a person with this condition has difficulty seeing detailed objects such as small print, faces or street signs.”
They also report that avocados help combat the condition as lutein is a key agent in battling the disease. On their blog, they said, “The reason avocado is good for your eyes is the high amount of lutein that is found in it. A single ounce of avocado contains 80 micrograms of lutein.”
11…Stave off cancers by consuming avocados
The National Institute of Health reported that in 2014, cancer was one of the leading causes of death in the world, claiming over 8 million lives. They also stated that the estimated expenditures on cancer-related illness in the U.S. in 2017 was $147.3 billion. The disease is rampant and doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon.
No one’s claiming that avocados cure cancer. That said, there is evidence pointing to numerous benefits of including them in your diet. Not only do avocados potentially have preventative abilities when it comes to certain kinds of cancers, but they are also known to aid in the cessation of growth of certain kinds of cancer. A 2010 study found that avocado contain carotenoids that are effective in ceasing of growth in certain cancers (like prostate cancer) as well as the death of certain cancer cells (like oral and gastric cancers).
A 2015 study found that avocatin B, a lipid found in avocado, can be toxic to certain Leukemia cells, thus helping combat the disease. Author of the book Thirty Two Ways to Outsmart Cancer, Dr. Nalini Chilkov wrote on HuffPost, “Oleic acid, the primary fat in avocados has been shown to offer significant protection against breast cancer. Women eating a diet rich in oleic acid have shown decreased rates of breast cancer.”
12…Improve digestion by eating more avocados
Modern foods with all their pre-packaged chemicals can wreck the digestive system. It is well known that cleaning up your diet can lead to a healthier lifestyle, but it can also be key to digestive relief.
The Nation Institute of Health estimates that 60 to 70 million Americans are affected by digestive issues. While those can vary widely, the Johns Hopkins University blog states, “Avocado is a superfood packed with fiber and essential nutrients, such as potassium, which helps promote healthy digestive function. It’s also a low-fructose food, so it’s less likely to cause gas.” Potassium has also long been known to aid in many bodily functions, including digestion. And as we now know, avocados contain more potassium than bananas.
Additionally, according to a 2013 study, avocados can have a counteractive effect on foods that cause inflammation, like hamburger meat. This is very convenient considering there is a trend of serving avocado slices or even guacamole right on top of a hamburger — it’s even been used as a bun substitute. Seems like a natural pairing! Avocado also contains high levels of fiber. Just one fruit contains 33 percent of the daily recommended serving. The soluble fiber in avocado is super helpful in normalizing bowel movements and aids in maintaining bowel health.
13…Avocados can help against chronic diseases
Researchers are finding that diseases that were once considered chronic and incurable are possibly mitigated by diet. We know that foods that are nutrient rich and chocked full of antioxidants can be helpful in the prevention of certain diseases. Since avocados fit the bill of nutrient dense and full of antioxidants, researchers have been studying the preventative as well as mitigating effects that the fruit can have on neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s Disease, and Parkinson’s Disease.
According to a 2016 study, “The diverse array of bioactive nutrients present in avocado plays a pivotal role in the prevention and cure of various neurodegenerative diseases.” Age does its best to tear down our bodies but thank goodness avocado is full of phytochemicals including powerful antioxidants that can fight back. The study states that “results indicate that compounds in avocado are unique antioxidants, preferentially suppressing radical generation, and thus may be promising as effective neuropreventive agents.”
The Arthritis Foundation also says that since avocados are packed full of vitamin E, they are one of the best fruits to consume in order to fight inflammation, stating, “Diets high in these compounds are linked to decreased risk of the joint damage seen in early osteoarthritis.”
14…Detoxify your body with avocados
Have one too many margaritas over the weekend? Perhaps you chowed down on some fast food on a road trip last weekend? Well, they say a balanced diet is the key, right? Avocados appear to counter some of the damage we do to our bodies.
Detox recipes are all over the internet for avocado-laden fare like smoothies, salads, and soups. There is more than one good reason why it continually makes it on to lists of foods to be consumed when cleaning up the diet. It is not just because the fruit contains antioxidants itself, but also because it is necessary to aid in the absorption of detoxifying antioxidants in other foods.
Not only do they contain carotenoids themselves, but they also contain the key essential fatty acids that aid in processing the carotenoids in other foods. A 2005 study found that when avocados were consumed alongside salsas and salads (foods known to contain antioxidants) that the body was able to process and use their carotenoids better. Salsa and guacamole, you say? Avocado slices on top of a salad? Would have done it anyway, even if it wasn’t great for wiping away past food and booze sins.
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