Avocados are a stone fruit with a creamy texture that grow in warm climates. Their potential health benefits include improving digestion, decreasing risk of depression, and protection against cancer. Avocado, a tree with probable origin in south-central Mexico, is classified as a member of the flowering plant family Lauraceae. The fruit of the plant, also called an avocado, is botanically a large berry containing a single large seed. Eating a diet that contains plenty of fruits and vegetables of all kinds has long been associated with a reduced risk of many lifestyle-related health conditions.
1. Avocados are nutrient rich
Avocados are a great source of vitamins C, E, K, and B-6, as well as riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, and potassium. They also provide lutein, beta-carotene, and omega-3 fatty acids.
2. Healthy for the heart
Avocados contain 25 milligrams per ounce of a natural plant sterol called beta-sitosterol. Regular consumption of beta-sitosterol and other plant sterols has been seen to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
3. Great for vision
Avocados contain lutein and zeaxanthin, two phytochemicals that are especially concentrated in the tissues in the eyes where they provide antioxidant protection to help minimize damage, including from ultraviolet light.
4. Osteoporosis prevention
Vitamin K is essential for bone health. Half of an avocado provides approximately 25 percent of the daily recommended intake of vitamin K. This nutrient is often overlooked, but is essential for bone health.
Adequate intake of folate from food has shown promise in protecting against colon, stomach, pancreatic, and cervical cancers. Although the mechanism behind this apparent reduction in risk is currently unknown, researchers believe that folate protects against undesirable mutations in DNA and RNA during cell division.
6. Healthy babies
Folate is also known as folic acid. Folate is extremely important for a healthy pregnancy. Adequate intake reduces the risk of miscarriage and neural tube defects.
7. Lower risk of depression
Foods containing high levels of folate may help to decrease the risk of depression because folate helps to prevent the build-up of homocysteine, a substance that can impair circulation and delivery of nutrients to the brain.
8. Improved digestion
Despite its creamy texture, an avocado is actually high in fiber with approximately 6-7 grams per half fruit. Eating foods with natural fiber can help prevent constipation, maintain a healthy digestive tract, and lower the risk of colon cancer.
9. Natural detoxification
Adequate fiber promotes regular bowel movements, which are crucial for the daily excretion of toxins through the bile and stool. Recent studies have shown that dietary fiber may also play a role in regulating the immune system and inflammation.
10. Osteoporosis treatment
Substances called saponins, found in avocados, soy and some other plant foods, are associated with relief of symptoms in knee osteoarthritis, with further research planned to determine the long-term effects of isolated extracts.
11. Antimicrobial action
Avocados contain substances that have antimicrobial activity, particularly against Escherichia coli, a leading cause of food poisoning.
12. Protection from chronic disease
According to the Department of Internal Medicine and Nutritional Sciences Program of the University of Kentucky, high fiber intakes are associated with significantly lower risks of developing coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and certain gastrointestinal diseases. Increased fiber intake has also been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, improve insulin sensitivity, and enhance weight loss for obese individuals.