Avocados are on the rise in America. According to data from the Hass Avocado Board, sales for Hass avocados, the most widely consumed avocado in the United States, have nearly quadrupled since 2000. This beloved fruit is used in a variety of dishes and recipes. They can be used as a dip, spread or topping, or even consumed by the spoonful. Yet there are more to avocados than meets the palate. Here are 10 health benefits of avocados.
1. Avocados Help Maintain a Healthy Heart
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United Sates. Luckily, there are plenty of active steps you can take to lower your risk of heart disease. A cup of avocado has 23 percent of the recommended amount of daily folate, which is a B vitamin in leafy green vegetables that aids cell division. Diets high in folate are known for reducing the risk of heart disease in comparison to diets low in folate.
2. Avocados Lower the Risk of Depression
Foods with folate, like avocados, are good for the mind and heart. Folate is associated with a decreased risk of depression by preventing too much of an amino acid known as homocysteine from building up throughout the body. High levels of homocysteine thwart various nutrients from reaching the brain. In addition, they have been said to interfere with the production of many good-feeling chemicals within the brain, such as serotonin and dopamine. A review of 11 studies with 15,315 people found an inverse link between low levels of folate and depression. This suggests that clinical depression could be related to a chemical imbalance in the brain that can be treated with natural resources like folate.
3. Avocados Help Fetus Development
We know avocados improve brain function. Pregnant women can help the brain development of their infants by eating avocados as a natural source of folate. A distinction should be made between folate and folic acid: The former is a naturally occurring B vitamin that can be found in leafy, green vegetables, whereas folic acid is a synthetic molecule created in a laboratory. Folic acid tends to be recommended to pregnant woman to help the fetus develop; however, folic acid is known to cause problems. Instead, pregnant women can turn to avocados as natural source for folate.
4. Avocados Improve Skin Tone
This is perhaps the most widely know fact in the list, but it deserves to be repeated. Avocados are loaded with monounsaturated fats that help moisturize the outer layer of the skin. Furthermore, avocados are good source of omega-9 fats, which can be used to treat dry skin. Lastly, avocados are a great source for vitamins C and E, which can help repair damaged skin and maintain its firmness.
5. Avocados Improve Vision
There is more to avocados than meets the eye. Avocados have more of the carotenoid lutein than most fruits, which is a natural antioxidant that helps maintain good eyesight with age. In a study published in JAMA Ophthalmology, researchers found that women with a high dietary intake of lutein were 23 percent less likely for nuclear cataracts, the hardening of the eye lens, than women with a low dietary intake of lutein.
6. Avocados Fight Against Breast Cancer
Add avocados to the list of cancer-fighting foods. Avocados contain concentrated amounts of carotenoids, a natural fat-soluble pigment in plants known to significantly reduce the risk of breast cancer. An analysis of eight international studies with over 7,000 women was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. The report found an inverse association with breast cancer and high circulating carotenoid blood levels in women.
7. Avocados Prevent Birth Defects
Research suggests that avocados can help lower the risk of having a baby with a birth defect. As referenced earlier, avocados have high amounts of folate in comparison to other fruits. Half an avocado contains 10 percent of the total folate that pregnant woman need per day, which has been shown to decrease the risk for a variety of birth defects, including spina bifida.
8. Avocado Extract May Help Ease Arthritis
Arthritis is generally believed to be an inevitable discomfort of age. Yet multiple studies have shown that avocado extract can ease many symptoms associated with arthritis of the bones. Scientists do not yet know whether avocados themselves possess this unique quality.
9. Avocados Can Help Mitigate Diabetes
Diabetes is one of the five leading causes of death in the United States, but it doesn’t have to be — avocados are a superfood for diabetics. Many diabetics lack an adequate supply of fiber in their diet. Fortunately, avocados are loaded with soluble and insoluble fibers, which can help lower bad cholesterol levels and improve good cholesterol levels.
10. Avocados Can Lower the Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
Once diagnosed, Alzheimer’s disease is accepted as a steady, decline into oblivion in contemporary society. Yet the brain-boosting powers of avocados even extends to memory. Avocados are packed with omega-3 acids and vitamin E, which have been clinically proven to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. In short, avocados are just what the customer, rather than doctor, ordered.
It is often said, “You are what you eat,” and this extensive top 10 list demonstrates why. Avocados aren’t just a source for food; they’re a source for medicine. Or better yet, they are medicine.