Nutrition

The Many Health Benefits of Avocados

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Most of us may only know avocados as an ingredient in guacamole or as an addition to a sandwich in a restaurant.  But the truth is that this vegetable … oops, make that fruit … is a wonderful addition to any anti-aging diet and should be part of your daily intake.

Maybe you have stayed away from avocados due to their high fat content.  After all the fat police have been telling us for decades to eat a diet low in fat.  How’s that been working out?

Avocados High in Fat Content

Yes, avocados do have a high fat content but most of it is in the form of monounsaturated fats, just like olive oil.  We all know how good olive oil is in our diets.  Add avocados to the list. In fact it is this high content that makes avocados a great substitute for things such as mayonnaise.  Try smashing up some of the fruit and use it on a sandwich (if you must) or in a lettuce wrap in place of the much higher, saturated fat mayo.

Dr. Sears of Primal Force even suggests whipping some up in a blender and use it in place of your oil in a salad dressing.  Gives it a greenish tinge but, oh, so much better than many oils.  Sure, you can buy avocado oil and that’s great.  However, by whipping up the fruit itself you have access to all the wonderful fiber included in the fruit.

Avocado Fiber Is Good for You

avocado1That fiber is just one of the many good things you find in this green fruit.  In just one cup of pureed avocado you can get 39.1% of your daily value of fiber.  If nothing else, you know that fiber helps move things along in your body and since this is mostly insoluble fiber, it will do a good job of that.

Oleic Acid

Let’s get back to the oleic acid which makes up the majority of the fat in an avocado.  Just what is that good for and why does it help make this one of the great anti-aging foods?

In at least one study, oleic acid has been found to lower total blood cholesterol.  Not only does it do that, it specifically lowers LDL and triglycerides while at the same time raising your good HDL levels.

There are various indications that it, perhaps along with other things in avocados, helps battle different kinds of cancer.  There is a strong affinity for it fighting breast cancer.

Oleic acid is one of the fatty acids our bodies need.  It has anti-inflammatory properties and as you know inflammation is indicated in heart disease, arthritis, and a host of other diseases and ailments which affect older people.  Fatty acids help keep our brains in good working order too.

Avocados Are a Wonderful Source of Potassium

Did you know that avocados have more potassium than bananas?  I didn’t.  They do and by quite a bit at 485 mg to 358 mg for a 100 g serving.  They can provide 25% of what you need each day in 1 cup.

Among other things low potassium levels in your body relate to a higher risk of stroke.  If you fear that or have a history of stroke in your family, you might want to add some avocado to your meals every day.  Potassium helps regulate the acid and base balance in your body and it may even help lower high blood pressure.  More is needed on that later.

Increase Insulin Sensitivity with Avocados

There is a simple 7-carbon sugar in avocados called mannoheptulose.  Believe it or not, it improves insulin sensitivity and helps in clearing glucose from the blood.  Keeping our blood glucose at nominal levels is very important in keeping many diseases at bay.

This part of avocados also can rev up the fat burning in muscles.  Maybe that’s why some avocado eaters remain nice and lean.  It also acts as a calorie restriction mimetic meaning it gives you some of the benefits of a calorie restricted diet without having to actually restrict the calories you take in.  We do know that calorie restriction is one of the best, if not the best, method for increasing life span so we live longer.

Other Beneficial Substances in Avocados

avocado3To cut down a bit on the growing length of this article, we’ll just highlight a few more of the benefits of eating avocados.

  • Folate (plus other B vitamins) – 1 cup contains 23% of daily requirement. Folate reduces the risk of heart attacks by as much as 55%. It metabolizes homocysteine and maintains normal levels withing our bodies.
  • Vitamin E – It is the best fruit source. It is an antioxidant and helps the body use vitamin K. Vitamin E can protect the heart.
  • Lutein and Other Carotenoids – Lutein fights mascular degeneration which is the leading cause of blindness in people over 65 and cataracts too. Lutein is an antioxidant fighting against free radicals.
  • Sterolins – When using avocado oil, the sterolins can reduce age spots, scars and sun damage and softens skin. This is one reason why you might find avocados a part of any homemade beauty regimen.
  • Vitamin K – Plays role in blood clotting and maintains strong bones in the elderly. You can get 38.3% daily value in 1 cup.
  • Vitamin C – Yet another antioxidant and needed to form collagen which we know diminishing amounts of underlies our wrinkling skin as we get older.
  • Beta-sitosterol and Other Phytosterols – Beta-sitosterol significantly lowers blood cholesterol levels (shown in 16 human studies). Phytosterols are anti inflammatories.

Lots and lots of good for you substances are found in avocados.  But what about other ways to use avocados besides just eating them?

Other Ways to Use Avocados

ceviche-small_0Because of the wonderful fat in avocados, it makes a great skincare product as well.  Try these following uses:

  • Face – Make a facial mask of mashed up avocado once a week. Let the avocado dry for 10 – 15 minutes before washing off with warm water.
  • Eye care – Rub a little avocado oil around your eyes.
  • Fingernails – Give yourself an avocado oil manicure by using the oil to soften your cuticles.
  • Your whole body – Try using avocado oil as a body massage oil. It soaks in to some extent and will leave you feeling good.
  • Hair – Try applying a mashed up avocado to clean hair after washing. Let it set a few minutes and then rinse.  I don’t know why this wouldn’t work with a little avocado oil once a week or month too.

The wonderful anti-aging food that avocados are should be easily shown by the above.  However, they are high in calories.  While fat content varies by the variety of avocado you buy, 1/5 of a medium avocado will give you 50 calories and 4.5 grams of fat.  Take this into account as you make it one of your major additions.

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