Avocados are native to Central America and are now grown in most tropical and subtropical countries. Avocados are known as a rich creamy fruit, which is often mistakenly related to putting on weight. Actually, avocados contain a natural source of monounsaturated fat, which makes it heart healthy - of course, as with all things, everything in moderation! The monounsaturated fats (oleic acid) in avocados helps lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and maintains HDL (good) cholesterol.
Nutritional Benefits Related to Eating Avocados
- As mentioned, avocados contain monounsaturated fats. This can also help control diabetes. Research has found that by using avocados as a primary source of fat in your diet, diabetes sufferers can lower triglycerides by up to 20%.
- Avocados contain a huge source of fibre. One Avocado has up to 10 grams of fibre and may help to prevent certain types of cancer, particularly colon cancer.
- Avocados help regulate blood pressure as they contain a good source of potassium and are low in sodium. Adequate intake of potassium can help protect you against circulatory diseases, such as blood pressure, heart disease or stroke. An avocado is higher in potassium than a medium banana.
- Avocados are rich in folate. One avocado a day can provide almost 30% of the recommended daily dosage. Folate is important for heart health. Studies have shown that woman who have folate rich diets have a much low chance of cardiovascular disease, and a lower chance of heart attacks or fatal heart disease. Also folate helps prevent life threatening birth defects of the spine and brain.
- Avocados are a good source of Vitamin E, which is essential for the normal functioning of the body. Vitamin E is also an antioxidant which protects polyunsaturated fatty acids in cell membranes from free radical attacks. (free radicals are associated with the beginning of cancer and heart disease).
- Avocados contain good amounts of Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant which prevents viruses from penetrating cell membranes and is necessary for the production of collagen. Collagen is needed for the growth of new tissues and cells.
- Avocados also contain thiamine and riboflavin. Thiamine converts carbohydrate to glucose to fuel the brain and nervous system and riboflavin helps the body to release energy from proteins, carbohydrates and fat.
- Avocados will aid in the healing of digestive and circulatory problems.
- Avocados provide more than 25 essential nutrients.
- Avocados are traditionally used to heal skin problems. Avocado paste can be applied to rashes and rough skin to make it smoother or even be applied to soothe sunburnt skin.
- Avocados also contains vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin B6, copper, calcium, iron and magnesium.
- Avocados contain enzymes called chitinases that can cause allergic reactions in people with a sensitivity to latex (this also applies to bananas and chestnuts). Non-organic avocados are processed with ethylene gas that increases these enzymes; organic produce is not treated with ethylene gas and therefore has fewer allergy-causing compounds, but it is still recommended that if you have a latex sensitivity that you proceed with caution.
- Non organic avocados are also sprayed with petroleum based fertilizers such as neurotoxic malathion.
How to select and store Avocados
- Avocados do not ripen until picked, so fresh ones will be as hard as rocks.
- Choose heavy, unblemished avocado that has a slight neck, rather than being round at the top.
- Avoid any with bruises or soft spots and those with a hollow between the flesh and skin.
- A ripe, ready to eat avocado is slightly soft but should not have dark sunken spots or cracks.
- If firm, place in a paper bag at room temperature with a apple or banana, away from direct sunlight and it will be ready to eat in a few days. As the fruit ripens, the skin will turn darker.
- Never refrigerate avocados until ripe as this will make the ripening process significantly slower.
- Once ripe, if uncut, they can be kept in the fridge for up to two weeks.
The brighter the fruit, the more beta carotene (helps prevent cancer) your avocado contains. Using fresh avocados as a spread and as a substitute for butter on sandwiches and toast may help you reduce calories, fat, saturated fat, sodium and cholesterol and remember if you are recuperating from sickness and trying to regain strength, eat an avocado everyday, this will improve your health.