10 Health Benefits of Avocados (Slideshow)
November 12, 2013
10 healthy reasons why you should eat avocados
Certain fats in avocado, called phytosterols, have anti-inflammatory abilities, and are especially helpful when it comes to arthritis. Avocado’s polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols (PFAs) have also been found to provide anti-inflammatory benefits, particularly in the stomach area.
Avocados are probably best known for their effect on heart health. This is mostly due to a monounsaturated fatty acid, known as oleic acid, which has been shown to help lower the risk of heart disease. The vitamin B6 and the high amounts of folate in avocados help regulate homocysteine levels, which if high, can be a sign of poor heart health.
The oleic acid found in avocados helps our digestive tract by helping to transport molecules for fat that can increase our absorption of fat-soluble nutrients like carotenoids. Also, the inflammation-reducing properties of avocado can lead to an improvement in the body's ability to absorb carotenoids and nutrients.
Avocados are also eye-healthy fruits, as they contain lutein, an antioxidant that helps protect the eyes from damage that could lead to poor vision, cataracts, and macular degeneration.
Lower Blood Pressure
Because of the combination of avocados' high potassium content and its levels of omega-3s and oleic acid, they are helpful in reducing blood pressure. Avocados are also high in monounsaturated fats that can help lower blood pressure as well.
Lower Blood Sugar
The same monounsaturated fats that help lower blood pressure can also prevent or reverse insulin resistance, a cause of type 2 diabetes. And the large amounts of soluble fiber found in avocados help prevent blood sugar spikes.
Strengthens Immune System
The antioxidant glutathione supports the liver and the nervous system, and is responsible for replenishing other antioxidants in the body. It is essential for a healthy immune system, and avocado is one of the few foods that contain a high amount of glutathione.
The folate in avocado helps to prevent the formation of brain tangles that are considered a risk factor for Alzheimer's. Avocados also contain brain-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E, which together have been clinically proven to help prevent Alzheimer's disease from progressing and have even been shown to reverse it in its’ earliest stages.
Avocados can help protect against prostate and breast cancers.
In one study, participants who ate salads with avocados absorbed five times the amount of carotenoids than those who did not include avocados in their meals. Carotenoids include beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A, and lycopene a compound that has been shown to reduce the risk of stroke and prostate cancer.
Folic acid, found in abundance in avocados, is commonly recommended for pregnant women to help with the development of the fetus’ brain, in addition to its other vital organs. Natural folate is preferred over synthetic folic acid, so if you're pregnant, avocados are a great way to make sure you're getting enough.