Ever heard of an alligator pear? Maybe not, but you might have heard about this fruit called- avocado. Due to its green, bumpy texture and its pear shape, avocado is also called alligator pear. But off late why has avocado gained so much popularity? It has even been elevated into the superfood category!
Let’s take a look at the health benefits avocado has to offer and how we can use it in our diets.
It is a fruit that contains fat!
Surprising? When most fruits contain carbohydrates in the form of fruit sugars, avocado contains healthy fat. The monounsaturated fat- oleic acid found in avocado is heart healthy and makes the fruit a calorie dense option. The healthy fat is also good for brain cells and helps improve memory and brain activity. These fats can help prevent cognitive decline. Oleic acid helps prevent inflammation and is also known to help protect against cancer.
The fat found in avocado when combined with other fruits/ eaten with a meal, can help the body absorb nutrients effectively. Which is why it is important to include a slice or two of this fruit.
With the fat that avocado contains, it is also rich in the fat-soluble vitamins- A, D, E and K. These vitamins are important as they help in various processes in our body. Vitamin A is important for healthy skin and eyesight, Vitamin D along with calcium maintains the strength and integrity of bone, Vitamin E helps carry out various enzymatic processes in the body and Vitamin K helps in blood clotting.
Fat and fiber in a single fruit! Yes, that is what avocado has to offer. The soluble fiber in avocado helps to regulate blood sugar levels and maintains cholesterol in a healthy range. 25% of fiber in avocado is soluble while the other 75% is insoluble. Insoluble fiber ensures good digestion and easy bowel movements.
Benefits eye health
The antioxidants- Lutein and Zeaxanthin found in avocado are important for eye health. They protect against age related macular degeneration and prevent cataracts.
This nutrient is very important during pregnancy and prevents spina bifida and other birth defects. When eaten during pregnancy, this benefits the growing foetus.
In addition, folate is protective against various cancers such as – colon, stomach and cervical cancer. It works by preventing mutations in the DNA of our bodies. The phytochemical extracts of avocado inhibit the growth of cancerous cells and boost protective lymphocytes.
Avocado contains Vitamin D and Vitamin K, both of which are important for healthy bones. Vitamin K helps in calcium absorption by the bone. Along with a healthy balanced diet, avocado can help improve bone health.
Potassium in our bodies helps maintain the electrolyte balance. This is important to maintain and regulate blood pressure. An increased blood pressure can result in heart related diseases.
How can a fruit that contains fat help in weight loss?
By eliminating refined carbohydrates like- maida, white bread etc, and including healthy fat and lean protein one can lose weight. The fat in avocado can help you to feel full and satisfied. Due to its fiber content, avocado is slowly digested. This keeps blood sugar levels stable, so you do not crave any unhealthy foods. When eaten as a snack, avocado helps replace other unhealthy snacks or junk foods. Feeling full helps prevent binging on deep fried, fatty and sugary foods. A diet that contains healthy fat, ensures that all the nutrients from food are being absorbed and utilized effectively. Some crash/ fad diets eliminate fats completely. This has negative effects such as- improper absorption of nutrients, a lowered level of good cholesterol and rapid spikes in blood sugar.
Ways to use avocado:
1. Avocado can be eaten as a snack and added to fruits to enhance nutrient absorption
2. The pulp can be mashed and used as a spread over whole grain toast, instead of other unhealthy spreads like- jam or chocolate spread
3. Avocado is made into a dip known as Guacamole (which originated in South America). It contains garlic and lime juice, which further enhances its nutritive benefits. Guacamole can be used as a dip for vegetable sticks.
4. Avocado can be diced and used in salads
5. For those looking for a calorie dense option, avocado is a good nutrient source. Avocado can be blended into a milkshake for a mid-morning or evening snack.
While buying avocado pick those that are firm (not hard). Cut open lengthwise and remove the seed. You can scoop out and use the light green pulp as mentioned. Add this fruit to your diet and reap its immense benefits!
With inputs from: