11 Healthy Reasons to Eat Avocado and What to Do With the Pit
By Jenny Hills Food & Nutrition
I just love it when I can eat food that not only tastes delicious, but is also nutritious and healthy. That’s how I would describe avocado. It is a superfood, but unlike some other superfoods that are hard to consume unless disguised as something else, avocado is yummy and can be prepared in so many different ways.
For a long time many people counted calories indiscriminately and feared fats, so they avoided this wonderful fatty fruit. But now the verdict is out – the fats avocado contains are healthy for you, and calorie counting is overrated. So it’s official: I can eat avocados to my heart’s content. Here are some good reasons why:
1. Avocados are rich in carotenoids and also help their absorption from other fruits and vegetables
Carotenoids are natural plant pigments. They are very powerful antioxidants and some types can be turned into vitamin A, which is essential for the health of your eyes. Carotenoids are soluble in fat, so they need a fatty environment to be absorbed. If you eat a fat-rich avocado together with other fruits and vegetables that contain carotenoids, the body will be able to use these antioxidant better. Adding a few slices of avocado to your salad should do the trick. You can learn more about antioxidants in my previous article about 9 amazing antioxidants for great health.
2. Avocados make you feel full and help you lose weight
This fact might come as a bit of a surprise, considering the fruit’s caloric value (half a medium-sized avocado contains 138 calories). However, because avocado makes you feel full, you actually tend to eat less. Also, avocado contains oleic acid, which activates part of the brain responsible for feeling full. What’s more, recent research shows that eating healthy unsaturated fats can help with your dieting efforts. You can also find here the best foods that help fight belly fat.
3. Avocados are good for the heart and reduce the risk of heart attack
Since avocados are an excellent source of healthy fats, they boost your good cholesterol levels – the high density lipoprotein or HDL cholesterol. For HDL, higher numbers are always welcomed. HDL prevents heart disease and stroke. So if you have a family history of heart attack, make sure that you stock some avocados in your kitchen.
4. Avocados lower your bad cholesterol levels
Just as avocados increase HDL or ‘good cholesterol’, they reduce LDL or ‘bad cholesterol’. The oleic acid helps reduce your overall cholesterol levels, and particularly the damaging LDL cholesterol, which is blamed for cardiovascular disease. If you are battling with high cholesterol levels, avocado might be your perfect savior. Find here more simple and effective ways to reduce cholesterol.
5. Avocados are high in folate and reduce the risk of birth defects
This one is particularly interesting for pregnant women, who need to take folic acid supplements during their pregnancy. It turns out avocado is very rich in folate – a vitamin which prevents birth defects. One cup of avocado contains a quarter of your daily recommended intake. Folic acid is important for the health of your cells, as it prevents cell changes that could lead to cancer, so everyone should consume enough of it.
6. Not many chemicals can touch avocados so they are safe to eat
If you’re worried about the pesticides in your food, you’ll be happy to hear that due to their thick skin, avocados are very resistant to pesticide contamination. Also, bugs don’t attack them so much, so fewer pesticides are used in the first place. And indeed avocados were on the top of the list of fruits and veggies with the least pesticides for 2014. So who said that having thick skin is a bad thing?
7. Avocados have anti-cancerous properties
Avocados contain plenty of phytonutrients. These increase the amount of antioxidants in your body which fight free radicals, which have the potential to cause damage to cells, including damage that may lead to cancer. Avocados may inhibit oral cancer and prostate cancer, as well as some other malignant diseases. Find here more foods that protect against cancer development.
8. Avocados are a good source of essential vitamins and minerals
Did you know that avocados contain more potassium than bananas? They are also rich in vitamin K, vitamin B5 and vitamin B6. They hide a substantial amount of vitamin C inside their rich meat. Vitamin C is an antioxidant and it’s important for the upkeep of your immune system.
9. Avocados are rich in dietary fibers
Consuming enough fibers is essential for your gut and overall health. With avocado, constipation can become a worry of the past. Dietary fibers also help reduce cholesterol and blood sugar levels. The good news is that one avocado contains almost half of your daily recommended intake of fiber.
10. Avocados improve brain function and might help prevent dementia
I saved my favorite avocado healthiness for the end. Who would think that eating guacamole can improve your brain function? Well, according to research, avocados are up there with blueberries in promoting brain health. They contribute to healthy blood flow and reduce blood pressure, so your brain gets nourished without any interruptions. High blood pressure is often associates with cognitive decline, so keeping it within normal values will keep your little grey cells in optimal shape for old age. You can find here more ways to improve your brain function naturally.
11. Avocados have anti inflammatory properties
Avocado helps to prevent inflammation in the body, especially problems involving arthritis, due to several factors. It contains phytosterols that are a major portion of avocado fats. These phytosterols are important supporters of our inflammatory system that help keep inflammation under control. Also its high content of carotenoids, as well as other nutrients, is a key factor in the anti-inflammatory properties of this fruit. Find here more foods to reduce inflammation in your body.
Eating avocado and using the seed is also one of the 70 habits featured in my e-book 70 Powerful Habits For A Great Health which will guide you how to take positive steps to improve your wellness and overall health.
How to eat avocado pits for nutrition
You might be as tempted as I am now to live on avocados only, but remember that no extreme is good for you. A half to one avocado should be your daily dose. And if you were thinking of discarding its hard pit after eating your delicious treat, think again.
Avocado seeds not only grow into beautiful plants, they can also be used in your kitchen and are increasingly recognized for their healing potential. Some indigenous cultures have been using avocado seeds for medicinal purposes for centuries, especially as a digestive remedy to cure diarrhea and dysentery.
Add the whole pit to you other smoothie ingredients and use a super strong and heavy duty food processor such as Vitamix. The seeds contain flavonols that give them anti-cancerous properties. They are also rich in antioxidants, soluble fiber and potassium. If you want to focus on its potassium value, go for the immature fruits – as the fruit ripens, the levels of potassium decline.
So enjoy your next avocado-enriched meal – it’s a healthy pleasure worth indulging in!
Avocado is also one of the superfoods mentioned in my e-book about superfoods which is part of the Natural Health Revolution Program. This program will help you to achieve your health, nutrition and weight loss goals.
James Achanyi-Fontem, is a Senior Health Journalist and Communication Consultant. He worked as a health journalist and broadcaster for 30 years with Radio Cameroon and later Cameroon Radio Television, CRTV before retiring in 2005 to engage fully with Cameroon Link (Human Assistance Programme). Cameroon Link is a registered charity, not-for-profit organisation involved in the promotion of community health, humanitarian assistance, promotion of women and child rights through involvement of communities in Cameroon for mother and child health care. Cameroon Link is a partner to Commonwealth of Learning (COL), Farm Radio International (FRI), International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN Africa), World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA). As the intermediary of Commonwealth of Learning (COL), Cameroon Link is engaged to implement a Cameroon Rural Radio story design Programming through an investigative research, which aims to discover through interviewing beneficiaries of health programmes on their interests, documenting and disseminating new ideas about how radio stations produce and air Healthy Communities Radio Programs in Cameroon.