Richmond C. Amadi is an independent journalist, Book Publisher, member of RSU Alumni, Researcher (currently researching with Researchgate.net), Writer, Motivational Speaker. He is a BSc Holder in Office and Information Management, and Diploma holder in Management all from Rivers State University. Currently doing his MSc with RSU. Contact him on [email protected] or [email protected] All Social Platforms: @amadirichmondc
Health Benefits of Avocado
Avocados are most beneficial when eaten raw. Many of the well-researched and important health benefits of avocados are as follows:
1. Promotes Healthy Heart
Beta-sitosterol, which is found in avocados, helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Research studies showed that laboratory rats who were given avocado for 5 weeks as a part of their daily meal had about 27% lower triglycerides plasma levels and their HDL cholesterol was 17% higher as compared to a control group who did not have avocado. This is why eating avocados daily can help in protecting the heart from atherosclerosis.
2. High in Potassium
The significant levels of potassium make avocados a powerful fruit in the fight against hypertension. According to a research published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, potassium-rich foods can reduce pathogenic vascular calcification, which is the hardening of arteries. Dr. Paul Sanders from the University of Alabama at Birmingham led the research which concluded that eating potassium-rich foods like avocados and bananas reduces the tension of blood vessels and arteries, regulating blood pressure. This, in turn, reduces the chances of clotting, heart attacks, and strokes.
3. Aids in Digestion
Avocados are soothing for the intestine and aid in digestion. They contain soluble and insoluble fibers that help to keep the digestive system running smoothly. These types of fiber are very important for digestion because they bulk up stools and help ensure the smooth passage of food through the intestinal tract. Furthermore, they stimulate gastric and digestive juices so nutrients are absorbed in the most efficient and rapid way. Finally, they reduce the symptoms from conditions like constipation and diarrhea. All in all, the huge amount of fiber found in avocados (40% of daily requirement per serving) makes this a very important food for optimizing your digestive health.
4. Improves Vision
Avocados help keep your eyes healthy. They contain carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin, which help to protect your eyes against cataracts, eye diseases related to age, and macular degeneration. These conditions are often caused by free radicals that accumulate in the tissues of the eyes. The antioxidant activity of these special carotenoids in avocados neutralize the effects of those dangerous free radicals.
5. Skin and Hair Care
Avocados are packed with nutrients that are beneficial for maintaining healthy skin. It enriches skin that is dry, chapped or damaged. They are added to a variety of cosmetics due to their ability to nourish the skin with essential vitamins and make it glow. It is also used for nourishing dry and damaged hair.
Many people use avocados to prepare skin and hair masks. Above all, avocado oil helps in treating plaque psoriasis. Beta-carotene and lycopene are two organic compounds found in large quantities in avocados. Both of these have been connected to improving the health and tone of your skin and eliminating signs of premature aging.
6. Treats Arthritis
The anti-inflammatory properties of avocados are perhaps its most valuable attribute, and between the wide range of phytochemicals, flavonoids, carotenoids, phytosterols, fatty alcohols, and omega-3 fatty acids it contains, avocados are one of the best foods for reducing the inflammation in tissues, joints, and muscles. A research study led by Dr. Blaine Christiansen, UC Davis Health, showed that 300 mg of avocado and soybean-based nutritional supplement appears to be beneficial for patients with hip or knee osteoarthritis.
7. Prevents Bad Breath
Consumption of avocados also helps in preventing bad breath, which is primarily caused due to indigestion or an upset stomach. Halitosis can be eliminated by improving digestive health, and the antibacterial and antioxidant flavonoids found in avocados also kill the bacteria in your mouth that can result in bad breath. Avocados have also been connected with preventing oral cancers!
8. Liver Care
Avocados are very good at reducing liver damage. It has certain organic compounds that help in improving liver health. Liver damage is normally caused due to Hepatitis C. Findings of a recent research study suggest that avocados may play a major role in toning up and protecting your liver from a wide variety of conditions.
9. Kidney Health
Diet plays a very important role in maintaining the balance of minerals and fluids in those who suffer from chronic kidney disorders. Potassium is one of the minerals that help in maintaining a normal heart rate. Avocados are a good source of potassium and their inclusion in your diet may provide other benefits as well. It is important to make sure that potassium levels are not too high as that can also be dangerous for the heart. Potassium is a key aspect of maintaining fluid balance through chemical channels for cells and organs. This balance of fluid is also vital for the functioning of the kidney, which handles the movement of fluid and toxins through the body.
10. Vitamin K Deficiency
A vitamin K deficiency is not very common but is frequently seen in neonatal care. It may lead to a bleeding disorder known as vitamin K deficiency-related bleeding (VKDB). This occurs mostly due to an insufficient intake of vitamin K during pregnancy. The inclusion of avocado in the diet of a pregnant woman may help in lowering risk of VKDB in the newborn child since avocados are one of the rare fruits that have a very high amount of vitamin K (almost 40% of the daily requirement in a single serving!)
11. Morning Sickness
During pregnancy, morning sickness is very common. Avocados help overcome nausea and queasiness during pregnancy since it contains vitamin B6, which is commonly connected to reducing nausea and vomiting.
12. Anti-cancer Properties
Health benefits of avocados include a lower risk of cancers, including breast cancer and prostate cancer. Avocado contains carotenoids and monounsaturated fat, both of which contribute to the significant reduction of cancer. Avocado also contains Glutathione, an antioxidant that protects the cells from cancer and the dangerous effects of free radicals. The list of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds in avocados is impressive, and it is almost difficult to determine which one has the largest impact. Studies have been widely done on oral, skin, and prostate cancers, and the results show that instead of metastasizing, the organic compounds in avocados cause cancerous cells to undergo apoptosis (automatic cell death). Research is still ongoing on the relationship between avocados and cancer.
13. Antioxidant Properties
Avocado contains both vitamin C and E, which help enhance the antioxidant properties of the human body. Vitamin C recycles vitamin E and helps reduce the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. Avocado also contains antioxidants like epicatechin, violaxanthin, neochrome, and about a dozen others. Antioxidants neutralize the effects of free radicals, the dangerous byproducts of cellular metabolism. They are responsible for dozens of serious conditions in the body, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, vision problems, premature aging, cognitive disorders, and many more.
14. Healthy Skin
Avocados contain many vitamins and minerals that help in maintaining healthy skin. Carotenoids found in avocados are associated with reducing UV-induced inflammation of the skin due to exposure to the sun. Pure avocado oil helps in protecting the skin against sunburn damage. The high levels of beta-carotene in avocados can be enzymatically split into provitamin A, which has long been connected to protecting the skin from a variety of conditions and the damaging effects of the sun.
Consuming avocados and applying pure moisturizing avocado oil to the skin is also associated with healthy aging. It contains compounds such as lutein and zeaxanthin, which has antioxidant properties. Research studies by Dr. Richard L. Roberts et al. show that lutein and zeaxanthin may decrease signs of the aging process by protecting the skin from damage from both, UV rays and radiation.
16. Strengthens Bones
Avocados contain zeaxanthin and lutein, which are associated with a reduced risk of cartilage defects, which is the symptom of osteoarthritis. Furthermore, the levels of essential minerals in avocados are significant, including zinc, phosphorous, copper, and trace amounts of calcium and selenium. All of these are connected to lowered risks of osteoporosis and improvements in bone mineral density.
17. Nutrient Absorption
Avocados are best eaten along with other fruits and vegetables. According to a research study by Ohio State University, the fat in avocado helps the body absorb carotenoids such as beta-carotene and converts them to vitamin A. Lead researcher Dr. Rachel Kopec, in the study, found that the absorption of carotenoid antioxidant molecules, which helps protect the body against free radical damage, increases three to five times when a salad is eaten along with avocado. Therefore, adding sliced avocado to a mixed salad is a good way to make a healthy meal even better. This makes avocado a great element as an appetizer since it prepares the digestive tract to function at its highest level during the meal to come!
18. Blood Glucose Level
Apart from the fruit, the leaf extracts of avocados also provide health benefits. A study conducted on non-diabetic and diabetic rats suggest that the leaf extracts may help in lowering blood glucose levels. For diabetic patients, the metabolism of starch-based foods into simple sugars like glucose can cause the spikes and plunges that are dangerous for diabetics. Fiber helps to slow the breakdown of food into usable sugars, so it is absorbed by the body in a more balanced way. Furthermore, the majority of carbohydrates in avocados are made up of 7-carbon sugars, a relatively rare form of sugar that actually inhibit the enzyme, hexokinase. This helps avocados control the way that glucose is metabolized by the body, thereby protecting the overall health of diabetic patients.
19. Useful for Athletes
Athletes require a lot of energy and must maintain optimal nutrition to fuel their body. Avocado provides vital nutrients to athletes to maintain required energy levels and good health. Moreover, they contain phytochemicals that are a natural fuel source for your body.
20. Improved Cognitive Function
Avocados can help improve the cognitive function in healthy older people by increasing the lutein content in the body. According to a 2017 study done by Tufts University, having a fresh avocado a day showed increased lutein levels in the brains and eyes of healthy older adults, which in turn enhanced their memory and problem-solving skills. Lutein is a carotenoid found in fruits and vegetables which has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.