Avocado ---Top 10 Health Benefits

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Last updated March 27, 2017 (originally published February 7, 2013)

By Alison Turner, Featured Columnist
[Health and fitness articles are reviewed by Registered Nurses,
Certified fitness professionals and other members of our Editorial
Board]













First thing’s first --- is an avocado a fruit or a vegetable?  
The Agricultural Marketing Resource Center out of the
University of California assures that avocados are a fruit,
and are believed to have come to us from Central and
South America.  

Avocados, technically known as "persea americana",  were
first planted in the United States in the 1830s, in Florida.
Americans have been gobbling up the green fleshy pulp,
currently at a rate of 4.5 pounds per person per year, in
salads, sandwiches, the beloved guacamole, and even as an
ice cream flavor.   

What Are Avocados Made of?

The most common variety of avocado in the United States is
the "Haas" avocado. Most people consume half an avocado,
equal to 68 grams of the fruit.  This portion size has the
following nutrient profile:

-calories, 117 Kcal
-monounsaturated fat, 6.7 grams
-fiber 4.6 grams of dietary fiber
-potassium 345 milligrams of potassium
-sugar 0.2 grams of sugar
-salt 5.5 milligrams of salt (daily recommended limit of salt
is 1500 milligrams for those who need to limit salt intake)
-magnesium 19.5 milligrams magnesium
-Vitamin A 43 micrograms of Vitamin A
-Vitamin C6 milligrams of Vitamin C
-Vitamin E 1.3 milligrams of Vitamin E
-Vitamin K1, 14 micrograms
-folate, 60 milligrams
-Vitamin B-6, 0.2 milligrams
-niacin, 1.3 millgrams
-pantothenic acid, 1 milligram
-riboflavin, 0.1 milligram
-choline, 10 milligrams
-lutein/zeaxanthin, 185 micrograms
-phytosterols, 57 milligrams




Avocados have a history that is not only culinary.  People
from around the world have used avocados for purposes
as diverse as ink, an antibiotic against dysentery, a cure for
dandruff, and to make dye.   While some of these uses may
come in handy for some of us (you just never know), what
do we know about the connection between the avocados
that we eat and our health?

Most of have the general idea that avocados are good for
us – but most of us couldn’t really say why.  Check out the
list of health benefits that researchers from around the
globe have recently discovered about avocados.  Warning:
the list may inspire you to update your next shopping list.

Top Health Benefits of Avocados























1.        Avocados vs. Metabolic Syndrome: We Have a
Winner.

Metabolic syndrome describes a group of risk factors that
increase the risk for coronary artery disease, type 2
diabetes, and stroke.  Unfortunately,
metabolic syndrome is
becoming increasingly common in the U.S., and researchers
are not sure why.  Risk factors include “central obesity,”
that is,
extra weight around the middle of your body, and
insulin resistance.   While the cause of metabolic syndrome
continues to befuddle experts, other researchers are
working on ways to reduce our risk for contracting the
disease in the first place.  A team in Michigan, for example,
finds that avocados may be the green ticket against
metabolic syndrome. (Read more about
metabolic
syndrome.)

In the beginning of this year, 2013, Victor Fulgoni with
Nutrition Impact in Battle Creek, Michigan  led a team in an
analysis of how avocados affect the risk of metabolic
syndrome in adults.  

Using data from over 17,000 participants in the National
Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), the
team found that “body weight, BMI, and waist
circumference were significantly lower” in avocado
consumers, and that the “odds ratio” for metabolic
syndrome were lower in avocado consumers vs. non-
consumers.  The team concluded that avocado consumption
is associated with “reduced risk of metabolic syndrome.”

If coronary artery disease, stroke, and
type 2 diabetes are
not what you had planned for the future, you might want
to consider taking steps now to reduce your risk later.  And
hey, worrying about our health doesn’t have to be that
bad: pass the guacamole.

2.
Avocado vs. High Blood Cholesterol: Another Healthy
Victory.

There are several complicated, intimidating words out there
that mean high blood cholesterol: hyperlipoproteinemia,
hyperlipidemia, dyslipidemia, and hypercholesterolemia, to
name a few.  

Whether or not you can pronounce these words, the
important thing to remember is that you should try to get
rid of the condition behind them.  While our bodies need
cholesterol to work properly, too much of the stuff can
increase the odds of heart disease and stroke.   
Fortunately, research from Saudi Arabia suggests a tasty
way to slice away your risks for high cholesterol: eat more
avocado.

In 2011, Mohammed Al-Dosari with the College of
Pharmacy at King Saud University in Saudi Arabia  analyzed
how avocado fruit pulp affected hyperlipidemia in “Wistar
albino rats.”  When rats with high cholesterol were fed
avocado pulp at the rate of 1 or 2 ml/day, they showed
“significant decrease in serum cholesterol,” as well as in
other unwanted substances, and an increase in good
things, such as fatty acids.  The team concluded that
avocado flesh “possesses hypocholesterolemic [that is,
cholesterol-lowering] properties,” and may be a good way
to control dyslipidemia.  (Read more about
natural
remedies for high cholesterol.)

If avocados aren’t your cup of tea, or if they’re out of
season and range beyond your current budget, there are
other steps you can take to decrease your risk of high
cholesterol.  High cholesterol levels are often linked to diets
that are high in fat, obesity, heavy alcohol use, and inactive
lifestyles.   If any of these characteristics apply to you, it
may be time to start a few new --- good --- habits.

3.
Who Needs Prostate Cancer With So Many Avocados to
Eat?

Most of have heard of that hazy line between good fats and
bad fats – fine, it’s really not that hazy (butter: bad; peanut
butter: good), but it can be confusing.  An acronym that
you may have heard regarding fats is MUFAs, or
monounsaturated fatty acids.  MUFAs lie on the “good” side
of the fat line, and consuming them may help lower the risk
of heart disease and lower your cholesterol.   Research
coming from Jamaica finds that MUFAs – particularly those
coming from avocados – may also reduce men’s risk for
prostate cancer.

In 2012, twelve experts including Maria Jackson with the
Department of Community Health and Psychiatry at the
University of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica,  
investigated how intake of fatty foods (the good kinds!)
such as avocado impacted the risk of prostate cancer in
209 men with newly-diagnosed prostate cancer, and 226
men without cancer.  They found that “higher intakes of
dietary MUFA were inversely related to prostate cancer,”
and that “the principal source of dietary MUFA was
avocado intake.”

If you’re looking for other sources of good fats to
supplement your avocado consumption, MUFA-merry foods
include nuts like almonds, cashews and pecans, and
olive
oil.  However, the Mayo Clinic warns that even though
these are good fats, these foods are also high in calories
and should be consumed in moderation. (Read more about
olive oil's ability to extend your lifespan.)

4.
Avocados and Cancer: Part II

Learning that avocados may help decrease men’s risk for
prostate cancer (see above) is exciting, but so is the
possibility that avocados could reduce the risk of other
forms of cancer.  Indeed, researchers in Ohio found that
this unique fruit may be an innate enemy of cancer growth
in general.

In 2011, Haiming Ding with the Department of Radiology in
the College of Medicine at The Ohio State University in
Columbus, along with colleagues from the same institution,  
examined how avocado flesh may help inhibit the growth of
cancer.  Their very specific and esoteric study zoomed in on
how avocado might be able to do this, and found that “the
potential anticancer activity of avocado fruits is due to a
combination of specific aliphatic acetogenins that target
two key components [of the] cancer pathway.”  

Just in case you’re still tripping over certain seemingly-
made-up words from the previous statement, the highlights
of the study include the key words “anticancer activity of
avocado.”  Certain bottom lines are convincing enough
without the details.


[Update:

Avocados are rich in glutathione, often called the "mother
of all anti-oxidants" because of its ability to help the body
to rid itself of excess metals and toxins.  A 3.5 ounce
serving of avocado contains 27.7 mg of glutathione,
according to the National Cancer Institute.  The glutathione
content may help to explain avocado's anti-tumor
properties.]


5.
Inflammation in the Cardiovascular System?  Order
Avocado with Your Burger
.

Continue reading     page 1    
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