Our round, green avocado friends have become an extremely popular superfood in the last few years, largely because of all their health benefits, but also because of the wide variety of ways they can be used.
My name is Dr. Maria Cavallazzi, a naturopathic doctor in Mississauga, and I am a firm believer that food is nature’s medicine.
In this article, my goal is to educate you on how avocados are excellent for your health, as well as help you understand all the benefits they contain.
The Story Behind Avocados
Avocados are the fruit from the Persea americana tree, and are also known by the very descriptive names ‘alligator pear’ and ‘butter fruit.’
The Hass avocado is the most popular, but avocados can differ greatly in size and shape.
Potential Risks Of Eating Avocados
There are only a couple of risks to eating avocados, so let’s deal with those first.
For those who are on blood thinners, it’s important to be careful with any food containing large amounts of vitamin K, because that controls your body’s blood clotting.
There is another risk to all our health that comes with mass consumption of avocados, and that’s the environmental impact – avocados can only grow in tropical temperatures, and the costs of transporting them to North America do take their toll in pollution.
Pollution is an environmental factor that affects people everywhere, triggering all kinds of conditions and diseases.
Nutritious Value Of Avocados
Avocados have over 20 different vitamins and minerals; here are some quick stats on nutritious avocados before we delve into what they can do for you. Note that the numbers below are taken from 1 serving of avocado, which is about 100g – the average avocado weighs about 170g.
• Avocados contain no cholesterol or sodium
• They are low in saturated fat, which is unhealthy fat, but high in healthy fats
• They are considered a low-carb food, because most of the carbs come from fiber
• Very high in vitamin K, one serving is 26% of your daily recommended intake
• Avocados are also very high in vitamins B5, B6, C, E, Potassium and Folate.
• They also contain magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, zinc, phosphorous, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and vitamin A
Health Benefits Of Avocados
Here’s where we look at what all those vitamins and minerals can do for you.
While it’s important to have a varied diet, it’s good to know how foods impact your health so that you can make wise choices.
Part of learning about your body’s functions is so that you can recognize opportunities in your health and take action on them naturally, holistically.
1. They Help Keep Your Eyes Healthy
Avocados are high in antioxidants, but they also help the antioxidants in other foods get absorbed in your body (thanks to their monounsaturated fatty acids) – like an antioxidant facilitator of sorts.
There has been research into the reduction of risk for cataracts and macular degeneration – this is because of the beta-carotene that they boast.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are two phytochemicals in avocados that help protect against the damage caused by ultraviolet light.
2. They Have High Levels Of Healthy Fats
Healthy fats are important to consume, because we all need some fats in order to properly process other nutrients that we take in through our diet.
Similar to turmeric, which can be better absorbed into your bloodstream by the presence of black pepper, certain nutrients are fat-soluble, which means they are useless to your body – and excreted – unless combined with fat.
Examples of fat-soluble nutrients are vitamins A, D, E and K, along with other compounds, such as the antioxidant carotenoids.
3. They Can Lower Cholesterol Levels
Avocados have caught the attention of the scientific community enough that this 1996 study by Lopez Ledesma et al explored and determined that avocados may very well be able to lower cholesterol levels.
It’s possible that just one avocado a day can lower LDL levels; low-density lipoprotein is known as ‘bad cholesterol.’
4. They Can Help Prevent Osteoporosis
After all you know about avocados, can you believe they can even prevent osteoporosis?
Well, we talked about the fact that avocadoes are loaded with vitamin K, which is a problem if you’re on blood thinners, but great if you want strong bones.
It’s fairly common knowledge that calcium and vitamin D help with bones, but those need to be absorbed properly in the body, and only vitamin K can do that.
Great news: vitamin K is available in abundance in avocados, and it also helps to reduce the amount of calcium that is lost, protecting the work it does in absorbing it.
5. They Can Improve Your Digestion
We’ve already talked about how high in fiber avocados are, and here is why it’s important.
Your digestive system requires fibre to move waste effectively and also allow proper nutrient absorption.
The high fibre content in avocados can help prevent constipation, which helps to reduce the risk of colon cancer.
Contact The Mindful Healing Clinic
They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but if it’s brunch with avocado toast, then it may also be the healthiest.
While it’s important to remember that all foods are healthy in moderation, avocados definitely are among the top of the list for healthy options.
If you recognize that you would like to improve your health and wellness through better diet, call The Mindful Healing Clinic now and book with me to learn all you need to know.
Until next time,
Dr. Maria Cavallazzi is a medical doctor from Colombia where she practiced as a family physician for 8 years until she moved to Canada 16 years ago and became a naturopathic doctor in Mississauga.