While avocados have been a popular and loved fruit around the globe it is believed to be native to Mexico and Central America and was first cultivated in Mexico as early as 500 BC. By the 1950s over twenty-five varieties were all vying for a place in the commercial sphere and are now cultivated worldwide.
Avocados are packed with dietary fiber, Vitamins A, C, K, and B6, potassium, magnesium, sodium, folate, niacin, lutein/Zeaxanthin, phytosterols, and high monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Avocados also contain saturated and unsaturated fatty acids which help to promote healthy blood lipid profiles and enhance the bioavailability of fat-soluble vitamins and phytochemicals. In this article, we will explore facts you should know about avocados, a low-fat vegetable that helps to support cardiovascular health and aid in supporting weight management and healthy aging.
Facts You Should Know About Avocado
Avocado is a nutrient and phytochemical-dense food consisting of dietary fiber, and sugars with about eighty percent of the edible fruit consisting of water and provide a wide variety of enriched diets. They play an important role in improving blood profile by lowering LDL cholesterol compared to high carbohydrate diets.
It is believed that consuming half to one-half avocado per day can help to maintain a normal serum total cholesterol in men and reduce serum total cholesterol by nine to forty-three percent in diabetic or very low cholesterol.
Human studies suggest that consuming an avocado-rich diet for four weeks will result in significantly lowered plasma triglycerides and blood lipid and glycemic control. In addition, avocados can enhance lipophilic antioxidant capacity and help convert oxidized LDL cholesterol back to its normal form.
The many nutrients and phytochemicals in the fruit have potential cardiovascular health benefits with a similar composition profile to that of tree-baring nuts which have heart-healthy benefits with less than half the calories.
The fatty acids in avocados can fit into healthy diets due to their control of monounsaturated fatty acids (71 %), polyunsaturated fatty acids (13 %), and 16% saturated fatty acids. This happens as the fruit ripens and the saturated fats decrease and the monounsaturated oleic acid increase.
Avocados contain carbohydrates which are dietary fibers and are about eighty percent with a distribution of seventy percent insoluble and thirty percent soluble fiber.
Research has shown that the fruit has 2g and 4.6g of dietary fiber per 30g and one-half fruit respectively. Moderate avocado consumption can help to achieve an adequate intake of 14g per 1000 kcal.
There are also sugars contained in avocados when compared to other fruits very little with only about 0.2g which is a unique seven-carbon called D-monoheptulose.
This sugar does not behave nutritionally as conventional sugar and is believed to support blood glucose control and weight management as the glycemic index and food of avocado are expected to be about zero.
Does Avocado Contains Minerals?
Potassium is a mineral found in avocado fruit and clinical evidence suggests that adequate potassium intake can promote blood pressure control in adults.
The fruit contains about 152 and 345mg of potassium per 30g and one-half fruit respectively. In addition, they are naturally very low in sodium per 30g and one-half fruit which makes avocado a great food for controlling blood pressure.
Magnesium – is a cofactor for many cellular enzymes required in energy metabolism, and can help support normal vascular tone and insulin sensibility.
Preclinical and clinical researches suggest that low magnesium is shown to prevent fat absorption and improve postprandial hyperliprolemin in healthy people.
Vitamins – are antioxidants and avocados are one of the few foods that contain significant levels of vitamins C and E. Vitamin C plays an important role in recycling vitamin E to maintain circulatory protection such as slowing down the rate of LDL cholesterol oxidation.
Vitamin C is suggested to be helpful in contributing to vascular health and arterial plaque stabilization. It is believed to have greater Cardiovascular disease protective effects on specific problems such as smokers and obese and overweight people, elevated cholesterol, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes, and persons over the age of fifty-five (55)
It is further suggested that a combination of vitamin C and E may slow atherosclerotic progression in hyper-cholesterolemic people.
Vitamin K from plant-based foods is considered to be the primary source of vitamins in the human diet. Moreover, in its reduced form, vitamin K is a cofactor for the enzymes that allow activity for blood clotting.
B Vitamins – deficiencies in B vitamins such as B-6 increase homocysteine levels, which can reduce endothelial health and increase cardiovascular risk.
B vitamins are important for making sure the body’s cells are functioning properly. They help the body convert food into energy (metabolism), create new blood cells, and maintain healthy skin cells, brain cells, and other body tissues.
Phytochemicals Found In Avocado
Carotenoids are the primary compounds found in Avocado and are a subclass known as xanthophylls, oxygen-containing fat-soluble antioxidants, such as lutein, are more polar than carotenes and have a much lower propensity for pro-oxidant activity.
Avocados have the highest lipophilic total antioxidant properties among fruits and vegetables and are reported to reduce oxidative stress and protect against early atherosclerosis.
Evidence suggests that the beneficial effects of fruit phenolics reduce cardiovascular disease risk by reducing the associated oxidative and inflammatory stress, enhancing blood flow and arterial endothelial health, and preventing platelet accumulation to help vascular health.
Avocados contain a moderate level of phenolic compounds of 60mg and 140mg galic acid equivalents per 30g and one-half fruit respectively.
Research suggested that avocados have a total antioxidant capacity of 600 which is the highest fruit lipophilic antioxidant properties and is potentially a factor in helping to reduce serum lipid peroxidation and promoting vascular health.
Avocados are known to have the richest source of phytosterols. Although the content is lower than those contained in fortified foods and dietary supplements, its unique emulsified fat matrix and neutral phytosterol glycosides can help to promote stronger intestinal cholesterol-blocking activity than fortified foods and supplements.
The potential health benefits of foods containing phytosterols can help to play roles in enhancing cardiovascular health and associated health cost.
Some other health benefits of eating avocados are, weight management as there is strong evidence that indicates dietary patterns that are relatively low in energy density can improve weight loss and maintenance.
Avocados contain medium energy density, viscose water dietary fiber, and fruit oil matrix that can full satiety. In addition, monounsaturated fatty acids-rich diets help protect against abdominal fat accumulation and diabetic health complications.
Osteoarthritis is characterized by progressive deterioration of joint cartilage and function with associated impairment and this affects most people as they aged or become overweight.
The deterioration of the joint can be triggered by inflammation and oxidative stress which causes an imbalance in joint degradation.
Fruits and vegetables rich in lutein and zeaxanthin (the primary carotenoids in avocados) are associated with decreased risk of cartilage defects.
Intakes of lutein and zeaxanthin decrease with age. Eating avocados will restore the loss and contribute to eye health as they contain a combination of monounsaturated fatty acids and Zeaxanthin and help to improve carotenoid absorption from the fruit.
The skin often shows the first visible sign of aging but the topical application or consumption of avocado and its extracts are helpful for skin health. The skin of the face is frequently exposed to oxidative and inflammatory damage caused by exposure to UV and radiation.
The carotenoids in avocados can help in combatting this damage as this is attributed to the high lutein. Studies show that topical or oral lutein can provide photoprotective anti-activity.
How Avocado Protects Against Cancer
Avocados contain a number of bioactive phytochemicals such as carotenoids, terpenoids, D-mannoheptuose, Persephone A & B phenols, and glutathione that are reported to have anticarcinogenic properties.
The concentrations of some of these phytochemicals in avocados are potentially effective against cancer of the larynx, pharynx, and oral cavity.
The glutathione found in avocados contains three compounds of amino acids (glutamic acid, cysteine, and glycine) which function as an antioxidant. The glutathione levels are much higher than that of other fruits.
Moreover, although the body digests glutathione, individual amino acids when foods are consumed showed a significant correlation between glutathione intake and decreased risk of oral and pharyngeal cancer.
Studies found that plasma lutein and total xanthophyll (excluding individual carotenes or total carotenes) reduce oxidative stress in patients with early-stage of these cancers.
It is also reported that xanthophyll in avocado extracts has anti-helicobacter pylori activity that is effective for treating gastritis ulcers, which is associated with the risk of gastric cancer.
The dietary carotenoids in avocados show the potential to protect against breast cancer. The protective biological activities include antioxidant activity, induction of apoptosis, and retardation of mammary cell reproduction.
It is believed that total carotenoids and lutein reduce oxidative stress which is a potential trigger for breast cancer. Moreover, mammographic density is one of the strongest predictors of breast cancer risk. Plasma levels of carotenoids can play an important role in reducing the risk of breast cancer, particularly among women with high mammographic density.
Exploratory studies in prostate cancer cell lines suggest antiproliferative and antitumor effects of avocado lipid extracts. Lutein is one of the active components found. There are, however, no current human studies to confirm the relationship between cancer and lutein.
The consumption of avocado can fit into a range of healthy food plans with the average consumption of one-half of the fruit. This will provide nutrients and phytochemicals consisting of significant levels of dietary fiber, potassium, magnesium, vitamins, folate, niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, choline, lutein/zeaxanthin, phytosterols, and monounsaturated fatty acids.
The caloric density is medium-low because avocado is about 80% water, 7.2% dietary fiber, and 6.8%. The fruit contains a very low sugar content of about 0.2g sugar per one-half fruit.
There are consistent avocado cardiovascular health studies that have consistently demonstrated that the fruit has positive heart-healthy effects on blood lipid profiles which is primarily based on the low saturated fatty acids and the high unsaturated fatty acids content.
Natural phytosterols and dietary fiber can play potential secondary cholesterol-lowering roles. There are other ranges of nutrients and phytochemicals that may have vascular health benefits.
The potassium and lutein in avocado can help to promote normal blood pressure and control inflammation and oxidative stress. The consumption of avocado in salads and other dishes increases the bioavailability of carotenoids tremendously and can add to the potential health benefits. Click here for Avocado and related products.
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