Avocados initially originated in southern Mexico and Colombia around 7000 years ago. Avocado is actually a fruit of the avocado tree, scientifically known as Persea americana. Because of their green scale like skin they were also called alligator pears. They have been very popular recently in North America because of their amazing nutritional profile. There are 80 varieties of Avocados. Most popular is Haas avocado.
Avocados are full of amazing nutrients and contain 20 different vitamins and minerals. One half of the avocado has 114 calories. It has 6gm of fiber, 0.2 gm of sugar and 6.7 gm of monosaturated fatty acids.
It contains large amount of potassium. One avocado contains almost 15 % daily recommended potassium. It’s like eating two small bananas. Also, it is rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Vitamin K and Vitamin B6.
Potassium is one of the most important electrolytes to maintain bodily functions at cellular level. It helps to maintain electrical gradients in the body cells. Potassium helps to promote healthy heart contractions and reduces high blood pressure.
The healthy fats in avocados also have significant role in heart health. The majority of fat content in Avocado is oleic acid. This is also found in Olive oil. Oleic acid helps to reduce inflammation and helps in prevention of chronic diseases like diabetes , heart disease and cancer . It helps in reduction of total cholesterol levels, reduces blood triglyceride and lowers LDL (bad cholesterol). It has also shown to increase HDL (good cholesterol).
Healthy fats in avocados also dramatically increase nutrient value of other foods. Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat soluble vitamins and they are better absorbed if eaten with healthy fat. Adding avocado or avocado Oil in food and salads will increase the absorption of these vitamins and antioxidants by 15-fold.
Avocados are also rich in carotenoid and antioxidant lutein which are very important for eye health. Lutein is deposited in to the retina, it helps to filter out harmful light and protects the eye from free radicals. It also helps in regeneration of healthy eye cells. Eating food rich in lutein protects eye from development of macular degeneration and cataracts as we age.
Avocados are also full of fiber. Dietary fiber has shown to reduce risk of heart attack, reduce blood sugar spikes and promotes good bacterial growth in mid gut. Diet rich in fiber also helps to make you feel full and aids in weight loss. Addition of half avocado with low carb diet has shown to help in weight loss. Not only weight loss but avocados can boost collagen production which will reduce signs of aging.
Avocados are not only healthy but are very delicious. Their rich, creamy and fatty texture add more flavor to many amazing recipes. You can spread them on toast instead of butter and sprinkle them with salt and black pepper. Use them instead of mayonnaise for your sandwiches, chicken or egg salads. Delicious and most famous guacamole, who does not like it. So many delicious ingredients can be added with avocados to make it. I always add half avocado to my salad for lunch. My favorite lunch is mixed greens with arugula, feta cheese, blue berries and half avocado sprinkled with salt, lemon and dash of olive oil. You can add the avocados to make delicious smoothies or simply scoop it out for a healthy snack. It will sure fill you up without guilt.
Avocados are eaten when they are ripened. Gently press the skin to see if avocado is soft. If it is, then its ready to be eaten. To speed up the ripening process I place my avocados with banana in a paper bag. The nutrients in avocado can oxidize and turn brown very quickly after fleshing it , so add dash of lemon juice. This will prevent oxidization process and keep the avocados more nutritious for long time. So, with all these benefits, please enjoy this versatile and delicious fruit more frequently.
As with any food moderation is important while eating avocados. They are rich in calories so need to be eaten as a part of balanced diet. Eating them in large amounts can cause weight gain. Please consult with your physician if you have any further questions regarding their interaction with medications. So far, I have not seen any significant side effects with consumption of this amazing food in moderation.