Oatmeal is a satisfying, healthy morning meal. It's a whole grain–something that most Americans don't eat often enough. It is high in soluble fiber, which may help to lower "bad" LDL cholesterol, and has a healthy amount of protein, both of which will help you feel satisfied until lunch. Plus it's a low-glycemic-index (GI) food–and research suggests that eating a low-GI meal before you exercis...
ou can find avocados almost everywhere — from grocery stores and farmers markets to chocolate pudding recipes.
Once considered a delicacy, this green tree fruit is now a common addition to tables and menus all over the world.
People’s love affair with avocados has gained traction in recent years. The growth in sales outpaces that of any other fruit. And in 2015, The Washington Post dubbed avocados “America’s new favorite fruit.”
What Is an Avocado?
The avocado is an evergreen, tropical tree with green, pear-shaped, nutrient-dense fruit. The term avocado refers to both the tree and the fruit.
Avocados come in hundreds of different varieties. And the tree is a member of the flowering plant family, Lauraceae.
The fruit itself is technically a berry containing one large seed. But keep in mind that the scientific definition of a berry (a fruit derived from the ovary of a single flower) varies from common usage. Botanists will tell you that eggplant is a berry and a strawberry is not. So I wouldn’t jump at a berry cobbler made by a botanist!
While they aren’t sweet, avocados are a satisfying and versatile food with a creamy, buttery texture. And they have a rich flavor from the high-fat content.
Avocado Health Benefits: The Skinny on This Healthy Fat Fruit
Avocados offer an abundance of fiber, potassium (more than a banana!), and vitamins B6 and C. They’re also rich in folate, which can boost your mood!
But any way you slice it, the nutrient avocados offer the most of is fat. In fact, one cup of avocado provides 21 grams of fat. The type of fat found in avocado, therefore, matters a great deal. And it’s mostly a mixture of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Polyunsaturated fats are essential. This means they’re necessary for your body to function, but it can’t make them itself. Your body uses these fats to build cell membranes and the covering of nerves. And they’re also needed for blood clotting and muscle movement.
Monounsaturated fats are similar to the fats found in olive oil. Some studies have linked them to reduced inflammation, lower risk of heart disease, and anti-cancer effects.
While many people debate the health effects of specific types of fat, I think that’s a bit like debating whether a trumpet is a good instrument. Taken by itself, it’s arguable. But when it’s in a talented band, playing excellent music, the equation can change considerably.
To me, avocados are a bit like one of the finest orchestras ever assembled. They’re not only delicious — but they also contain a fabulous and nutritious symphony of components that combine to create a nourishing, satisfying (and, in my personal opinion, delicious!) result.
And unlike, for example, avocado oil, a cup of avocado provides 10 grams of fiber.
15 Ways Avocados Can Support Your Health
Avocado health benefits are extensive and include:
- Avocado eaters tend to be healthier. A 2013 study published in the Nutrition Journal found that avocado consumers tend to have higher nutrient intake and lower rates of metabolic syndrome. They also have lower weight, lower BMI, less belly fat, and higher levels of HDL (high-density lipoprotein, or “good”cholesterol).
- Avocados can help you better absorb antioxidants. Some nutrients are fat-soluble. That means you should consume them with fats so your body can properly absorb them. A 2005 study published in The Journal of Nutrition found that eating carotenoids (antioxidants including lycopene and beta-carotene) with avocado or avocado oil increased their absorption.
- Avocados may help prevent and treat cancer. A 2015 study published in Cancer Research found that avocatin B, a compound derived from avocado, can help kill leukemia cells. A 2015 research review published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that phytochemicals (plant compounds) in avocados make them potentially beneficial for preventing cancer.
- Avocados can reduce your risk of heart disease. A 2015 study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that eating one avocado per day as part of a moderate‐fat, cholesterol‐lowering diet reduced LDL (low-density lipoprotein, or “bad”cholesterol).
- Avocados may aid in weight loss. A 2013 study published in the Nutrition Journal found that people eating avocado with a meal felt 23% more satisfied. And they had a 28% lower desire to eat in the next five hours versus people who didn’t eat an avocado.
- Avocados may boost brain health and memory. The fruit is rich in oleic acid (or OEA), an omega-9 fatty acid that’s linked to improved cognition. A 2009 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America found that these types of acids can enhance memory.
- Avocados may help lower the risk of depression. Eating monounsaturated fats have been shown to reduce depression. (And balancing fat intake may help control depression.) And the high amount of folate has been shown to help maintain your brain’s feel-good chemicals, dopamine and serotonin.
- Avocados can help prevent neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. A 2016 study published in Advances in Neurobiology found that the “diverse array of bioactive nutrients” present in avocados play a key role in the prevention and cure of these types of diseases.
- Avocados can keep your eyes healthy as you age. The fruit is rich in the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which can help protect and maintain healthy cells in your eyes. According to a 2017 study published in the journal Nutrients, avocado can help boost macular pigment with age.
- Avocados can help prevent gum disease. A 2006 study published in the Journal of Periodontology found that key ingredients in avocados may enhance protective effects against periodontal disease.
- Avocados can help ease osteoarthritis. A 2010 review published in the journal The Physician and Sportsmedicine found that key ingredients in avocados can help patients with arthritis of the hip or knee.
- Avocados can combat metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is an assortment of linked issues including high blood sugar, high serum cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high body mass index, which lead to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. A 2017 study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research found that the “lipid‐lowering, antihypertensive, antidiabetic, anti‐obesity, antithrombotic, antiatherosclerotic, and cardioprotective effects of avocado” can help protect against this syndrome.
- Avocados can help prevent food poisoning. A 2013 study published in the journal BioMed Research International found that the antibacterial activity of avocados can help protect against e. Coli and other foodborne pathogens.
- Avocados can help reduce liver damage. A 2000 study presented by the American Chemical Society found that avocados contain chemicals that can protect against liver toxins. And avocados may be able to lessen the liver damage caused by the hepatitis C virus.
- Avocados can be great for pregnant women. A 2016 study published in the journal Nutrients concluded that avocados are high in folate and potassium (typically under-consumed in maternal diets) as well as fiber, monounsaturated fats, and lipid-soluble antioxidants — all of which are tied to improvements in maternal health, birth outcomes, and quality of breast milk.
Any Down Sides to Avocados?
Avocados are high in fat and calories. So if excess weight is a concern, you may want to create some limits on how many you eat. A small amount can go a long way.
And if you’re prone to migraines or are allergic to latex, avocados might not be the fruit for you.
For those who suffer from migraines, certain foods, circumstances, or environmental factors can trigger episodes.
Avocados sometimes appear on lists of such foods due to the high levels of tyramine (a substance formed when proteins break down) they contain when overripe.
In addition, avocado contains some of the same allergens found in latex. So if you have a latex allergy, you may want to watch out to see if avocados trigger any of the same symptoms.