Avocado - Healthy For The Heart And Circulation
Avocados (Persea Americana Mill.) can be considered as superfoods. Botanically, they belong to the family of laurel plants and are therefore a berry fruit. Originally, avocados come from Central and South America. With their healthy nutrients for the heart, skin, and nerves, avocados are not only excellent for athletes. In supermarkets, mostly the dark Hass avocados and the green Fuerte avocados are available for purchase.
Avocado Contains Many Healthy Fats
The fat content in comparison to other fruit varieties is unusually high. Therefore, the calorie count is also higher with 160 kcal per 100 g, than with other fruits. About 75% of the calories come from fats, making avocados an excellent plant-based energy source. Avocados, like all plant-based foods, are free of cholesterol.
Many people are discouraged by the high-fat content. Avocados contain 17 g per 100 g of healthy, monounsaturated fatty acids. The largest proportion of this is made up of oleic acid. It has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties 1, resulting in benefits on the immune system. Furthermore, scientists have attributed oleic acid with cancer-preventive benefits 2.
Additionally, avocados have higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. These have anti-inflammatory benefits in the body. Furthermore, they are essential for maintaining the function of the brain and eyes. The healthy fats also prevent cardiovascular diseases 3.
Avocados Are Rich In All Essential Amino Acids
The protein content in avocados is generally higher than in other fruits, with 2 g per 100 g. Avocados contain all essential amino acids in a good ratio, making them a high-quality protein source for humans. Amino acids are the building blocks of the body and are involved in protein synthesis, which is crucial for muscle building and maintenance.
Avocados also contain significant amounts of the amino acid tryptophan, which is used to produce the sleep hormone melatonin, helping to improve sleep and support body regeneration.
Avocado fruits are among the best natural sources of B vitamins. They contain high levels of vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B6, and folate (folic acid). Riboflavin is necessary for energy production in the body, while vitamin B6 is involved in the conversion of food into energy. Folate strengthens the nervous system, supports cell renewal and blood formation, and is crucial as a coenzyme in protein synthesis. Furthermore, foods high in folate and folic acid such as avocado can lower the risk of heart attacks.
Vitamin E is also present in avocados in significant amounts (2.48 mg per 100 g). It acts as an antioxidant, reducing inflammatory processes. Vitamin E improves blood flow, strengthens the immune system, and is involved in cell renewal.
In addition, avocados contain vitamin K1, which is essential for blood clotting, with 21 µg per avocado.
Higher concentrations of carotenoids (alpha- and beta-carotene) are found in the dark green areas near the skin of avocado. They act as antioxidants in the body, protecting cells from free radicals and reducing the risk of heart diseases.
Avocados also contain lutein and zeaxanthin (0.27 mg per 100 g together), which play an important role in eye health. Lutein and zeaxanthin are used in the prevention and treatment of certain eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and retinitis pigmentosa (a group of inherited eye diseases) 4.
Improve Carotenoid And Vitamin A Absorption With Avocados
Avocados are not only rich in their own carotenoids (pro-vitamin A) - they also improve the absorption of carotenoids from other foods. The absorption of lycopene, alpha-carotene, and beta-carotene from salad and salsa with avocados could be increased up to 15 times 5.
A diet rich in carotenoids is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and eye diseases 6.
In addition, improved pro-vitamin A absorption has also been demonstrated in humans when avocados are consumed together with tomatoes and carrots 7.
Dietary Fiber And Minerals
Dietary fiber is also present in a larger amount at 6.7 g per 100 g. 75% of this is insoluble fiber and 25% is soluble fiber. They play an important role in stimulating metabolism and fat burning - thus also in weight loss. In addition, the fatty acids promote a feeling of satiety 8. They also serve as a food source for intestinal bacteria and promote a healthy intestinal flora.
The potassium and magnesium content is even higher in avocados than in bananas at 0.49 g and 29 mg per 100 g, respectively. Potassium is involved as an electrolyte in the transmission of electrical impulses to muscle and nerve cells. Furthermore, it is important for the building of proteins and the breakdown of carbohydrates. A deficiency of potassium can interfere with impulse transmission. Magnesium promotes muscle relaxation, has an antispasmodic effect, and is involved in protein synthesis.
Losing Weight With Avocados
A study from 2013 showed that consuming half an avocado for lunch can keep the feeling of fullness for three to five hours in overweight individuals 9. This can support weight reduction efforts.
Studies show that people who incorporate avocados into their diet have 10 a lower body weight, BMI, and waist circumference compared to those who do not eat avocados. In addition, the risk of a number of cardiovascular diseases (metabolic syndrome) is reduced. This is due to the fact that incorporating avocados into one's diet results in a healthier diet with a higher proportion of plants, which offer numerous health benefits.
Reducing The Risk Of Cardiovascular Diseases
Avocados are rich in secondary plant compounds such as phytosterols (57 mg per 68 g) 11. These have been shown to have anti-inflammatory benefits, which could reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases 12.
Avocados For Neural Health
Secondary plant compounds have mainly antioxidant benefits in the body by suppressing radical formation. The antioxidants found in avocados have a potentially neuroprotective effect 13. It is now believed that oxidative stress, which contributes to the formation of free radicals, is a risk factor for the development of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Oxidative stress can cause neuronal damage and alter intracellular signals, ultimately leading to neuronal cell death through apoptosis or necrosis. Avocados may play a significant role in the prevention and treatment of various neurodegenerative diseases with their ingredients.
Lowering Cholesterol Levels With Avocados
As mentioned in the previous section, avocados contain phytosterols. A diet that is rich in phytosterols can lead to a reduction in total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels 14.
A decrease in blood cholesterol levels of 17% was observed in 45 participants who ate one avocado per day for one week 15.
In 2015, scientists demonstrated that the inclusion of one avocado per day in a moderately fat-rich diet has a cholesterol-lowering benefits on "bad" LDL cholesterol 16. The levels of "good" HDL cholesterol remained constant.
A published study summary from 2016 shows that replacing dietary fats with avocados led to a significant reduction in total cholesterol (-18.80 mg/dL), LDL-C (-16.50 mg/dL), and triglyceride levels (-27.20 mg/dL) 17. The summary also indicates only a very slight decrease in HDL cholesterol (-0.18 mg/dL).
Avocados Against Cancer
In vitro studies have shown that avocado extract can inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells 18.
In 2015, scientists discovered a novel compound with cytotoxic activities called Avocatin B 19. Avocatin B selectively destroys cancer cells in acute myeloid leukemia while leaving healthy blood cells unharmed.
Another study with avocado extracts shows effective inhibition of cancer cell growth 20. The extracts thus provide a complementary approach to the treatment of esophageal and colon cancer.
In addition, avocado contains β-sitosterol, which belongs to the group of phytosterols 21 22. This compound supports the rapid proliferation of lymphocytes (white blood cells) and thus the activity of natural killer cells, which are part of the immune system 23 24 25. Natural killer cells recognize cancer cells and can render them harmless.
According to initial findings from 2016, an avocado defensin can induce cell death in human breast cancer cells 26. According to the scientists, the defensin (a peptide composed of amino acids) could be a potential therapeutic molecule in the treatment of cancer.
Furthermore, avocados are rich in glutathione, which as an antioxidant also has cancer-preventive benefits and can protect against heart failure 27. Other study results with phytochemical extracts from avocados suggest a chemoprotective effect 28. According to scientists, these extracts can be used in cancer therapy to reduce the side effects caused by chemotherapy.
Avocado Seed Is Edible
Health Risks Of Avocados?
Negative effects from consuming avocados are very rare.
However, people who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome should avoid avocados as they contain polyols 30. This could cause digestive discomfort.
The ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids is somewhat poor at 1:10. A high ratio in favor of omega-6 fatty acids is associated with a higher susceptibility to inflammation 31. An imbalance of fatty acids can be corrected very well with chia seeds, flax seeds and flaxseed oil.
No more than one avocado should be consumed per day.
Avocado fruits, which are satiating and low in fructose, can be used in a variety of ways. To access the healthy flesh, simply cut the avocado lengthwise and all the way around. Then, twist the two halves in opposite directions. Delicious spreads and smoothies can be made from the flesh. Avocado can be served in salads and processed into the well-known guacamole dip. Additionally, avocados are perfect for vegan wraps and sandwiches.
Avocado oil is often pressed from avocados. In some selected organic stores and health food stores, avocado oil can be purchased.
The avocado seed can also be used. It can be grated like a carrot or crushed in a blender and is great as an ingredient in smoothies. Additionally, the seed can be boiled until soft.
Identifying Ripe Avocado
It is easy to determine whether an avocado is ripe when dealing with the darker Hass variety. The skin is completely dark when it is ripe. It is recommended to buy Hass avocados when the skin is still somewhat green. Over time, it will ripen and the skin will turn black. Additionally, there are fewer brown pressure spots when the skin still has green areas.
Fuerte avocados, with their thin green skin, are usually firm and unripe when sold. Here, it is recommended to perform a pressure test beforehand - the softer, the riper. If an unripe avocado has been purchased, it can be ripened using ethylene gas, which is emitted by apples. Simply place the avocado with some apples and let it ripen for a few days.