Avocado is not only a delicious fruit but it is also a great container for compounds with healthy properties. Its health benefits are innumerable and even surprising. Let’s see what they are
Avocado, botanical name Persea Americana , is a tropical fruit belonging to the Lauraceae family. The plant is native to Mexico, a region in which it is believed that the avocado was already cultivated in 500 bC.
The name avocado has Aztec origins. Comes from the word ahuacati belonging to the alphabet of the Aztec people.
The Aztecs thought the fruit had aphrodisiac properties. For this reason it was called by them the fruit of love.
Today it is cultivated in all tropical countries, in South Africa, the United States and lately this precious fruit with multiple properties has begun to be cultivated also in Italy.
- Chemical Composition
- Heart and Kidneys
- Blood Pressure
- Eyes and Skin
- Weight loss
- Slow Aging
- Metabolic Syndrome
- Neurodegenerative Diseases
The avocado tree can reach a height of about 20 meters, it is an evergreen with a fruit that vaguely recalls the shape of the pear (it is also called alligator pear). The pulp of the fruit has a soft taste, the color is greenish yellow and is very fragrant. Inside the fruit we find a single large seed.
According to recent studies, the leaves, bark, fruits and seeds are toxic to various species of animals. Dogs, cats, rabbits, mice, cattle, goats, birds and fish can suffer serious damage if they consume them. In some cases, animals can also die.
This toxicity is due to the presence of a fatty acid called persin which is toxic to animals but harmless to humans.
|Chemical composition for 100 g of avocado|
|Vitamin A, RAE||mcg||7|
To underline the amount of very high potassium that is comparable to that contained in three bananas.
Amino acids : aspartic acid and glutamic acid, alanine, arginine, cystine, glycine, phenylalanine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, proline, methionine, serine, tyrosine, tryptophan, valine and threonine.
100 grams of avocado pulp provide 160 kcal.
Avocado: Properties and Benefits
Benefits to Heart and Kidneys
The good amount of potassium present in the avocado guarantees the regularity of the heartbeat and the balance of the fluids in our body. Fluid balance is also important for the proper functioning of the kidneys, which certainly benefit from avocado intake.
The diets with a fair amount of healthy fats, especially monounsaturated fats, are effective for the prevention of atherosclerosis. This benefit is obtained because these compounds prevent hardening of the arteries. The beneficial effects that avocado has on the heart were analyzed in a 2013 study. ( 1 )
There is another interesting study that analyzed the effects of a diet enriched with avocado. A group of healthy people and one of people with high cholesterol were considered in the study. Both groups were given avocado for a week. At the end of the test the healthy group had a cholesterol reduction of 16%. ( 2 )
The other group instead experienced a reduction in cholesterol and triglycerides to 22%. The HDL good cholesterol is increased by 11%.
According to studies, avocado can be included in a balanced diet for heart health. ( 3, 4 ) This fruit contains monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), aromatic fruit oil with 71% of MUFA, 13% of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and 16% of saturated fatty acids (SFA). As the avocado fruit ripens, the saturated fat decreases and the monounsaturated oleic acid increases. ( 5 )
A study conducted in Mexico on 12 diabetic women found that an avocado-rich diet significantly reduced triglycerides only 4 weeks. Another study found that these fruits can modify the structure of HDL-C by increasing the activity of paroxonase 1. This can increase the lipophilic antioxidant capacity and help convert oxidized LDL-C to its non-oxidized form
The main properties of avocado and its consequent benefits are mainly due to the presence of linoleic fatty acid and Omega 3. These are the so-called fat benefits that can stimulate the production of good cholesterol (HDL) and inhibit the deposition of bad cholesterol (LDL). ( 6 )
These properties of avocado are therefore able to decrease the presence of cholesterol in the blood and the various pathologies related to blood circulation and heart health.
Lower the Pressure
Several studies show that a good intake of potassium is able to reduce the blood pressure with great benefits in terms of prevention regarding heart attack and stroke. This fruit is a good source of potassium and has a low sodium content. According to scientific research, foods containing 350 mg of potassium and less than 1 50 mg of sodium are potentially useful for reducing blood pressure. ( 7 )
An American study reports that consumption of fruits and vegetables rich in lutein and zeaxanthin is associated with a reduced risk of cartilage defects. ( 8 )
The properties of some substances contained in the avocado prevent the formation of some tumors, especially that of the mouth. This is what has emerged from recent research conducted at the University of Ohio.
The Journal of Nutrition and Cancer published the result of a study on the phytochemical compounds present in this fruit. According to the study these compounds are so powerful that they avoid the use of chemotherapy in patients with oral cancer. ( 9 )
A further study confirms that the phytochemical compounds extracted from the fruit help to inhibit the growth of diseased cells. Furthermore, these compounds also cause cancer cell death by apoptosis. ( 10 )
Another study from 2005 shows that beta-sitosterol has protective properties against the prostate and improves immune function. ( 11 ) Some studies on cell lines of prostate cancer suggest that lipid extracts of avocado possess anti-proliferative and anti-tumor properties. ( 12 )
Scientific research, through studies conducted on humans, confirms that some active phytochemical compounds such as carotenoids, terpenoids, phenols and glutathione, have anti-carcinogenic properties. ( 13 , 14 )
The National Cancer Institute found that levels of glutathione of avocados are much higher than those of other fruits. A Mexican study found a significant relationship between the increase in glutathione intake and the reduction in the risk of oral and pharyngeal cancer. ( 15 )
Another study found that plasma lutein and total xanthophylls reduce markers of oxidative stress in patients with early-stage laryngeal and pharyngeal tumors. ( 16 )
Dietary carotenoids show potential biological protective properties against breast cancer, including antioxidant activity, induction of apoptosis and inhibition of mammary cell proliferation. ( 17 )
Protects Skin and Eyes
Vitamin A and vitamin E are two powerful antioxidants whose properties help the skin maintain its elasticity and slow down aging.
Recent studies have shown that the carotenoids present in avocado have beneficial effects on health. In particular, these compounds are useful in the prevention of certain skin cancers and age- related eye disorders. ( 18 )
Lutein instead has useful properties in the prevention of eye diseases because it absorbs the harmful radiation of the sun’s rays that penetrate the skin and eyes. Furthermore there are studies that show that the addition of avocado at the end of a meal increases the absorption of carotenoids. ( 19 )
Avocado is a food useful in countering depression and Alzheimer’s disease and also has good properties anti-inflammatory able to bring benefits to different organs of the human body.
According to studies some behaviors present in the fruit would have anti-inflammatory properties. ( 23 )
Substances such as flavonoids, carotenoids, phytosterols and omega 3 fatty acids are the best way to reduce inflammation in tissues, muscles and joints. This is why the consumption of this fruit is recommended to reduce arthritis-related pains. ( 24 )
Contains many fibers, soluble and insoluble. In this way its intake facilitates the passage of food in the intestine. It stimulates the production of gastric juices and therefore favors digestion. The regular consumption of this fruit helps to maintain a healthy digestive system. ( 25 )
A consequence of good digestion is a lighter breath, for this reason the avocado can be recommended for those with halitosis problems.
The flavonoids and antioxidants present in the fruit are also able to counteract the bacteria found in the mouth with benefits for the quality of the breath.
Some studies have instead shown that a regular intake of this fruit, although high in fat, helps people lose weight. This is thought to be due to the good content of dietary fiber which increases the sense of satiety.
The scientific research has shown that a diet that includes moderate amounts of healthy fats accelerates weight loss. In a 2005 study it was discovered that an avocado-rich diet leads to significant weight reduction as well as other health benefits. ( 26 )
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, consumption of fruit and vegetables is associated with lower weight and body mass index. ( 27 ) In recent years, the belief that the consumption of fat-rich foods can lead to weight gain has taken hold. Despite this an American study noted that a diet with a moderate fat intake may be a good choice to lose weight. ( 28 )
Some studies have reported that a diet rich in fruit and vegetables is associated with a tangible weight loss. ( 29 )
Its regular intake has beneficial effects in delaying cellular aging. This property is due to the presence of antioxidant compounds such as xanthophyll. There are some studies that suggest that taking this compound may reduce the signs of aging in various parts of the body. ( 30 )
This fruit is very effective in reducing liver damage. Hepatitis C is a disease most responsible for damage to this vital organ. A 2002 study published in BBC News describes the protective properties of avocado against the liver. ( 32 )
But it is not just the fruit that provides health benefits. According to a study conducted on rats, it appears that the leaves also have interesting therapeutic properties. In fact, avocado leaf extracts seem to help reduce blood sugar levels. ( 33 )
The fiber helps to slow down the breakdown of food into sugars which are then absorbed by the body in a more balanced manner. For this reason, its intake helps to control the way in which the sugar is metabolized by the body.
Avocado also contains very little sugar, and in a particular form, the perseitolo. This does not behave nutritionally like classic sugar. ( 34 ) Preliminary research suggests that this type of sugar could be effective in controlling blood sugar and even weight.
The avocados are high in phytochemicals, in particular antioxidants with potential neuroprotective properties. Aging is the main risk factor for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
There is much scientific evidence to show that oxidative stress is involved in the development of these diseases. Oxidative stress can induce neuronal damage and modulate intracellular signaling, eventually leading to neuronal death from apoptosis or necrosis.
Studies indicate that avocado compounds are unique antioxidants that preferentially suppress radical generation and therefore can be effective as neuropreventive agents. The wide range of bioactive nutrients present in this fruit plays a fundamental role in the prevention and treatment of various neurodegenerative diseases. ( 35 )
Avocado Hair Pack
To benefit the hair, especially in the case of very dry hair, it is sufficient to obtain the equivalent of half the fruit pulp and crush it well. You will get a sort of cream that will be applied to wet hair for about half an hour, after which you can proceed with rinsing.
In case you want to intensify the effect of this procedure you can add a couple of teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil and a couple of teaspoons of honey.
Avocado intake is highly recommended for pregnant women as it contains a good percentage of folic acid which helps prevent malformations of the nervous system and the brain.
To verify its maturity before buying it is necessary that the fruit is soft with a light pressure of the fingers. In case it is still unripe it can be closed in a paper bag and kept at room temperature for a few days (on average 4 or 5). If already mature, it can be stored in the refrigerator for a maximum of one week.
Avocado is not a proper light food, this because of its high fat content and is therefore not recommended to abuse. It can be used as an oil substitute, for example you can add it to a salad plate without adding oil.
In the cosmetic field its oil is widely used. Thanks to its properties, it is used for the preparation of anti-aging, solar and protective skin creams.
The seed and skin of the avocado make up about 33% of the weight of the avocado.
The most common avocado varieties are represented by the Ettinger and the Fuerte which are characterized by an elongated shape with a thin skin of a glossy green. Then we find the Hass variety with a rougher peel and a color that after darkening reaches a darker shade.
Finally we include the Nabal variety, with a rounder shape than the other species and a red skin color.
Avocado: Properties and Benefits
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