Avocado: A Great Tasting Superfood
Avocados have a gooey texture, yet a versatile flavor. Not only are they great eating with a spoon, in food dishes or mashed to make guacamole, but they have amazing health benefits. In fact, they are so nutritious, they have been categorized as a superfood. Superfoods are those that are nutrient-rich and are considered beneficial for your health and overall well-being.
Avocados contain vitamin B6 and folic acid. These help regulate homocysteine levels. High levels of homocysteine is associated with an increased risk of heart disease. Avocados also contain vitamin E, glutathione, and monounsaturated fat, which help in maintaining a healthy heart.
The monounsaturated fatty acid reduces dangerous low-density lipoproteins (LDL “bad” cholesterol) as well as increases the more beneficial high-density lipoproteins (HDL “good” cholesterol).
Vitamin E prevents cholesterol oxidation. When cholesterol oxidizes, it produces inflammation in your arteries that supply blood to your organs and other tissues, which then leads to atherosclerosis (an artery wall thickens because of accumulation of white blood cells) and increases your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
Avocados also contain potassium that regulates blood pressure, phytosterols that reduce cholesterol absorption and dietary fiber which controls blood sugar levels.
Avocado oil is added in many cosmetics because of its ability to nourish the skin and make it glow. The monounsaturated fats in avocado help here. It also aids in managing psoriasis, a skin disease that causes skin redness and irritation, due to the omega-9 fat content. They also repair damaged skin cells.
Avocados can protect your skin from wrinkles and have other anti-aging factors because of its antioxidant carotenoids. The vitamin E helps guard against aging from too much sun exposure, and vitamin C is involved in the creation of elastin and collagen for maintaining your skin’s elasticity and firmness. The presence of glutathione boosts immune system and helps slow down the aging process.
The content of anti-inflammatory phytonutrients is high, which help prevent inflammation and pain that comes with it. Compounds such as polyphenols, flavonoids and phytosterols are present which reduce the risk of inflammatory and degenerative disorders such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. These are painful diseases of joint inflammation and soreness that affects many people. Antioxidants like vitamin E and vitamin C also aid in the anti-inflammatory processes.
Avocados are high in fat and calories. However, the type of fat are monounsaturated fatty acids, and research has shown that these are more likely to be used as slow burning energy rather than stored as body fat. After eating an avocado, you’ll feel full, and this satisfied fullness reduces hunger and appetite. Adding avocados to your healthy diet is the same reason you would include nuts in your diet, these are healthy fats with less processed carbohydrates.
Maintain Blood Sugar
Much research has been done that has concluded that avocados are highly beneficial for regulating blood sugar levels. By way of lowering bad cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol, the monounsaturated fat content reduces high triglyceride levels and improve insulin function by reversing insulin resistance. The dietary fiber is also a great nutrient to keep steady blood sugar levels.
The presence of vitamin C is good for strengthening of blood vessels and capillaries which improve function for diabetics. The high levels of potassium are another important nutritional factor for diabetics due to its role in maintaining a healthy heart and regulating blood sugar.
In addition, avocados are relatively low-carb food, with about 19% of its calories coming from carbs. It’s also a low-sugar food, containing less than 2 grams of total sugar per cup, and falls very low on the glycemic index.
Preliminary research has concluded with results showing that avocados have the ability to help prevent the occurrence of cancers in the mouth, skin, and prostate gland. Cancer risk factors include excessive inflammation due to the lack of anti-inflammatory nutrients and oxidative stress which is due to free radicals accumulating in the body. Avocado anti-cancer benefits are related to avocado’s high mix of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. However, whats interesting is that avocados work to increase oxidative stress on cancer cells so they go through programmed cell death and increase their likelihood of dying themselves. At the same time, cancer supports the health of non-cancerous cells by increasing their supply of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients.
An avocado is ready to eat when it is ripe, slightly soft but should have no dark spot or cracks on the outer layer. A firm avocado will ripen at room temperature within a few days. As it ripens, the skin turns darker. Do not store avocados in the refrigerator until it is ripe. Once it is ripe, they can be refrigerated for up to a week. To avoid browning when the flesh is exposed to air, do not slice the avocado then put one half back in the fridge. If you must put half of an avocado in the fridge, then do so in a sealed plastic bag. Enjoy avocados with a spoon, in a salad, with eggs, or mash it together to make a guacamole dip.