You have all heard of 'an apple a day keeps the doctor away'; now how about replacing the good old apple with an avocado? After all avocado is considered as a 'super fruit' packed with many natural 'super nutrients'.
Avocado is a fruit, which has a creamy texture. It is native to Mexico and Central America and is rich in monounsaturated fat that is easily burned for energy. It is believed that consumption of avocado increases your healthy fat and calorie intake without seriously increasing protein or carbohydrate intake. It is known to have the slow burning and protective monounsaturated fats, which is important for a healthy heart. It is also a rich source of potassium and helps in balancing the vital sodium to potassium ratio.
Avocado Nutrition Facts
Good source of heart healthy fat
- Avocado is rich in healthy fats, which is important for maintaining good health and even losing weight to some extent. About 100 grams of avocado has a total of 15 grams of fat. It is abundant in monounsaturated oleic acid, which is the same beneficial healthy fat found in olive oil.
- Numerous studies have demonstrated that diet rich in oleic acid can significantly reduce high levels of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and increase levels of protective HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol). Thus avocado contributes to a reduced risk of heart disease and improved cardiac health.
- Another benefit of avocado is in losing weight because oleic acid to be used by the body as a slow burning energy source when compared to saturated fat.
Rich in antioxidants
- Avocado contains a wide array of antioxidant carotenoids such as beta-carotene, alpha carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, chrysanthemaxanthin, violaxanthin, neoxanthin and neochrome. Antioxidants are known to protect your body's cells from free radical damage that leads to the visible signs of ageing and a variety of diseases like cancer.
- The other two special antioxidants found in avocado are lutein and zeaxanthin, which are proven to reduce the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (the leading cause of blindness in the elderly) and cataract.
- Beta-sitosterol is the main phytosterol found in avocado. It is structurally similar to cholesterol and is known to block its absorption during digestion.
- Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, it is useful in preventing diseases of inflammation like arthritis and heart disease.
Packed with vitamins and minerals
- Avocado is a rich source of vitamin C, vitamin E, B vitamins, folate and vitamin K. Manganese, copper, magnesium and potassium are the main minerals found in avocado.
- Vitamin C not only protects against heart disease, but is also known to improve circulation, boost your immunity and enhance collagen production for beautiful skin.
- Vitamin E is a strong antioxidant that protects your skin from free radical damage which causes wrinkles, sagging skin and other visible signs of aging.
- Folate is known to reduce homocysteine levels in the blood (a consistent marker for cardiovascular disease) and thus cuts the risk of developing heart disease.
- Vitamin K plays a vital role in controlling many diseases such as osteoporosis, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
- Avocado is rich in fiber content which helps in improving digestion and also in lowering cholesterol. The fiber along with the healthy fats in avocado fills you up quite well to the extent of reducing hunger and cravings.
Avocado in weight management
- When you are trying to lose weight, you would most likely think of cutting down on fats and calories. Most of us believe that they get fat by eating fat. This is not really true because the way we consume fatty acids in our diet affects whether we gain or lose weight. Research has shown that some dietary fats, like the fats found in avocado, can help with weight loss. Avocado is also one of the metabolism enhancing food with their high levels of monounsaturated fats.
- Considering the fact that 100 grams of a fresh avocado provides nearly 160 calories, but it has to be noted that more than two thirds of those calories actually come from monounsaturated oleic acid, which is more likely to be utilized by your body as a slow burning source of energy compared to saturated fats.
- Avocado increases satiety and gives you a feeling of fullness after you eat it due to:
- high in calories and healthy monounsaturated fats
- rich buttery taste
- good levels of protein
- low levels of carbohydrate
- high fiber content
- A high carbohydrate meal which includes foods such as rice, bread, potatoes or pasta, usually causes significant increase in hunger due to the effect it has on the insulin levels in your blood. It has been demonstrated that increasing your intake of monounsaturated fats provides marked improvement in insulin sensitivity and glycemic, which is considered to a be a vital factor in weight gain and developing diabetes.
- On the other hand, fruits such as avocado have the ability to increase the nutrition that one would receive from a meal and satisfy your hunger quicker. This leads to most people eating less and thus has a tremendous effect on weight loss. Avocado is thus considered as an effective weight loss food when added to a healthy eating plan.
- Avocado is also high in omega-9 fats, which is known to aid in the absorption of fat soluble vitamins from the foods they are eaten with.
Tips to lose weight with avocado
- Remember that by just counting calories, limiting fat intake and starving yourself does not always help to lose those extra pounds.
- Eat fresh, unprocessed foods, which have plenty of vitamins and minerals to have lasting effect on your body.
- Breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day, so never skip it. Try making an avocado omelette by simply adding diced avocado to a beaten egg. You can also add other vegetables of your choice such as mushrooms, spring onions, tomatoes etc and spice it up with some black pepper powder and salt. This protein-packed omelette is not only healthy, but will keep you full for a while and provide longer lasting energy as compared to toast or cereal.
- Make your own sandwich by adding few slices of avocado to lettuce and tomato using whole grain bread and fat free mayonnaise. This is a healthier option as compared to the traditional "BLT sandwich" which is typically loaded with fats. Alternatively, you could use some mashed avocado as a spread for sandwiches; you will love the creamy texture and the flavor!
- Adding diced avocados to any kind of vegetarian salad (one kind is to use cooked beans such as pinto or garbanzo beans) or chicken and mango salad is a great option to start off a meal.
- Keep a jar of guacamole (traditional dish made with avocado) handy. To prepare guacamole, simply add garlic and diced tomato to some mashed avocado. This is a great tasting dip to snack on with some low fat crackers or vegetables of your choice.