What Are Avocados Good For?

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Bravo, Avocado!
Botanical Name: Persea Americana

Avocado Nutrition Facts

Their flavor and versatility have contributed to avocados’ rise in popularity. Gonzalo Fernandez de Oviedo, a historian for a group of Spanish conquistadors traversing South America, first talked about a “seed like a peeled chestnut surrounded by a paste ‘similar to butter and of very good taste’” in his book “General History of the Indies” that was published in 1526. The seed he referred to is what we now know as avocados.1

However, these interesting fruits were already used thousands of years ago in Central and South America. Avocados were cultivated by the Caral, Mokaya and Maya peoples of Peru2 and Mexico,3,4 and consumed in the Tehuacan Valley (present day Central Mexico) nearly 10,000 years ago.

Avocado-related references were also found on Pacal tombs in Chiapas (also in Mexico), and in Aztec paintings. The Mayan calendar also considered avocado as the name of its 14th month.5

R.B. Ord, a judge from Santa Barbara, California, is the reason why avocado is now cultivated in the U.S. He acquired three avocado samplings from Mexico back in 1871 and cared for them in his garden.6

California is now responsible for producing between 75% to 92% of avocados in the U.S.,7 and the California Avocado Commission highlights that the state has 3,000 growers who cultivate the fruit across 50,000 acres.8

How to Prepare Avocados

To enjoy fresh avocados (formerly called "alligator pear" in England9), they need to be prepared well. As much as possible, peel the avocados using your hands so the antioxidants in the fruits can be preserved. Here’s a step-by-step guide from the California Avocado Commission on how to properly peel an avocado:10

  1. Wash avocados before eating to potentially lower your risk for bacteria contamination.
  2. Cut the avocado in half lengthwise, around the seed.
  3. Cut each half further to make four avocado segments by rotating the fruit (about a 1/4 turn) and slicing it lengthwise around the seed.
  4. Separate the four segments from each other and remove the seed.
Use your hands to peel the skin off each avocado quarter.

Health Benefits of Avocado

It’s not surprising that avocados are considered one of the best fruits for your health. When it comes to nutrition, avocados are in a class by themselves because of the unusually large number of nutrients you can get from them.

One avocado contains 26% of the daily requirement of vitamin K, 22% for folate and 15% each for the likes of pantothenic acid or vitamin B5, and vitamin C.11 Avocados are also rich in potassium, and are said to have 60% more of this nutrient compared to a banana.12 Avocados’ vitamin E, riboflavin and fiber levels13 deserve honorable mention too.14

Avocados may aid in providing good fats, particularly monounsaturated fatty acids,15 and consuming them will help your body absorb other nutrients and minerals better.16 These fruits may also help maintain cholesterol levels in the healthy range17,18,19 and lower your heart disease risk.20,21

Studies Done on Avocados

Avocados are home to fatty acids called lipids, alongside their derivatives and other related substances.22 Scientists discovered they're not just simple building blocks,23 but perform complex, cell-regulating tasks on a molecular level,24 like messaging hormones and vice versa.25,26 Multiple studies were conducted to see if avocados’ lipid content can deliver impactful benefits, and results were positive:

  • Authors of a 2005 study in The Journal of Nutrition found that adding avocados to salad and salsa enhances your body's ability to take up the benefits of carotenoids, primarily because of the fruits’ lipid content.27
  • This 2005 article in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry focused on avocados’ yellow-green color, since its presence in other plant-based foods indicates carotenoid and other "bioactive" action, and possible cancer-fighting properties too. Results highlighted that monounsaturated fats in avocados may help your body absorb important bioactive carotenoids in combination with other fruits and vegetables, and therefore reduce your cancer risk.28
  • According to a 2011 article published in the Archives of Dermatological Research, lipids extracted from avocados may have protective abilities against the harmful effects of radiation, such as sun damage and inflammation.29

Avocado Nutrition Facts

Avocados cultivated in California contain substantial amounts of vitamins and nutrients. A 100-gram serving may already deliver good quantities of dietary fiber and vitamin C, and if you eat more avocado dishes, these numbers may increase too:30,31

Avocado Nutrition Facts


Serving Size: 100 grams, raw California avocado
  Amt. Per
Serving
% Daily
Value*
Calories 167  
Calories from Fat 31.4  
Total Fat 15.41 g 23%
Saturated Fat 2.126 g 2 g
Trans Fat 0 g 2 g
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Sodium 8 mg 0%
Total Carbohydrates 8.64 g 3%
Dietary Fiber 6.8 g 27%
Sugar 0.3 g  
Protein 2 g  
Vitamin A 3% Vitamin C 15%
Calcium 1% Iron 3%

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.


Must-Try Nutritious Avocado Recipes
Crisp and Crunchy Green Salad

Avocados are mainly used to make delicious guacamole to dip different foods in. However, you can also incorporate avocados into burgers, wraps, sandwiches, pasta, soups and smoothies,32 or serve as a tasty addition to a fresh salad, just like in the recipe below:

Avocado Healthy Recipes

Ingredients:

1 head red- or green-leaf lettuce, or Romaine

1 whole avocado, chopped into chunks

1 cup of sunflower seed sprouts

1 medium tomato, chopped small

1 medium cucumber

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

Dressings:

1/4 cup olive oil

1/8 cup balsamic vinegar

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Procedure:

  1. Prepare the lettuce leaves and place in a large bowl.
  2. Cut up the remaining vegetables and add them to the salad.
  3. Toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet on medium heat for four to five minutes or until lightly browned.
  4. Whisk together the olive oil and vinegar, add the crushed garlic, pour over the salad and serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

From "Healthy Recipes for Your Nutritional Type" by Dr. Joseph Mercola

Did you know that you can make delicious and healthy ice cream using avocado too? Its creamy texture will certainly have you coming back for more. Try this delectable avocado ice cream recipe today!

Because of their relatively low pesticide content, it’s possible to buy avocados conventional. In fact, they were ranked No. 1 in the Environmental Working Group’s Clean 15 list, meaning most varieties may be free of contaminants.33

However, in March 23, 2019 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a recall on avocados from the Henry Avocado Corporation because of possible listeria monocytogenes contamination. While no cases of sicknesses were reported because of the contaminated avocados, you may need to be very careful and purchase fruits from an organic farmer or reputable seller.34

Avocado Fun Facts

Because the Aztecs considered avocados a fertility fruit35 and the Mayans used them as an aphrodisiac,36 a stigma against avocados was evident during the 19th and early 20th centuries. During these periods, people who were very concerned about their image and wanted to appear chaste avoided eating or buying avocados.37 Growers eventually launched a campaign to convince consumers they can eat avocados without feeling guilty and worrying about their supposed aphrodisiac effects.

 

Summary

Not just for guacamole, sliced avocados lend a creamy texture and delicious flavor to sandwiches, wraps and salads.38 But the health benefits of avocados are stellar, especially with the healthy fat content that allows your body to absorb various nutrients.39 Avocados are also very high in essential vitamins and minerals, including fiber,40 vitamins K, B5, B6 and C, folate, and potassium, all of which may help boost your well-being.41,42

 


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