Did You Know?
Avocados mature on the tree, but ripen only once they are off the tree.
The avocado fruit is commonly known as the 'alligator pear'
, for its leather-like skin. It is native to the Caribbean Islands, South America, and Central America. It is often considered a vegetable rather than a fruit. The plant belongs to the family lauraceae
. It is usually dark green in color with a yellowish-green buttery flesh. It contains a hard egg-shaped seed, known as a 'pit'.
Avocados are available throughout the year. There are over 500 varieties of avocados in the world, which can be broadly classified into three categories, viz. Mexican, Guatemalan, and West-Indian. One of the most common varieties of avocados is the Hass
variety, which is pear-shaped and has a dark green skin. Let us take a closer look at its nutritional value and benefits in the below sections.
Nutrition and Benefits of Avocado
- It contains a high amount of monounsaturated fat, which can lower the level of cholesterol. One such important monounsaturated fat is oleic acid, which can reduce the level of harmful LDL cholesterol. LDL cholesterol is associated with clogging of arteries, thereby increasing the risk of heart diseases.
- Oleic acid also increases the HDL cholesterol, which facilitates the transport of cholesterol in the blood and reduces the risk of coronary heart diseases and atherosclerosis that causes deposition of fats inside the arteries.
- It is a valuable source of proteins and contain the essential amino acids.
- Despite being rich in fats, it can help you lose weight. The secret lies in the high concentration of health promoting monounsaturated fatty acids.
- It also contains vitamin A, which is essential for stimulating the immune system, improvement of vision, and for proper growth of bones and teeth.
- It is a rich source of vitamin E and C, which are known for their antioxidant properties. Antioxidants protect cells and tissues from the damaging effects of free radicals.
- Vitamin C can prevent the occurrence of cardiovascular diseases, while vitamin E aids the formation of red blood cells, protection of cell membranes and boosts blood circulation.
- It also contains vitamin K, which is essential for coagulation of blood, increasing bone density, and for absorption of calcium.
- Also called folic acid, folate is found abundantly in avocados. They can provide up to almost 8% of our total RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) of folate, which is mainly required for development of tissues and cells.
- Sufficient intake of folate can reduce the risk of heart diseases. Studies conducted in this regard have shown that an adequate intake of folate can lower the risk of heart diseases and heart attacks up to a whopping 55%.
- Potassium is required for maintaining the electrolyte balance in the body. It can also lower the risk of circulatory diseases like heart disease and stroke. It also assists in regulating the level of blood pressure.
- Calcium and phosphorus are essential for the healthy growth of bones and teeth, while zinc facilitates the proper functioning of the immune system, energy metabolism, and digestion.
- Some studies have revealed that extracts from avocados can be effective in preventing prostate cancer by inhibiting the growth of both androgen dependent and androgen independent cancerous cells. This can be attributed to the carotenoids such as lutein, alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and zeaxanthin found in this fruit.
- The phytonutrients in avocados are presumed to be capable of destroying the cancerous cells in the case of oral cancer.
- This nutritious fruit can also protect you against a number of ailments including heart diseases, cancer, digestive problems, and muscular degeneration.
So, now that you the amazing benefits of this nutritious fruit, include some avocados in your daily diet for that extra nutrition. Eat healthy, stay healthy!