Health Benefits of Avocados
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Want to try incorporating more avocados into your diet? Let me share with you the health benefits of avocados, and why they are so amazing for the whole family!
The avocado is like the little green food with superpowers! In fact, research shows that people who eat avocados tend to be healthier with a higher nutrient intake and a lower body mass index than those who don’t.
What I love so much about them is that you can sneak them into almost anything! The avocado is indeed a superfood, but it’s also a hidden gem in many smoothies, dips and sauces.
Now, maybe you can relate, but my personal journey of avocado-love didn’t happen right away. In fact, the first time I ever tried an avocado, I REALLY didn’t like it. I thought it was kind of … well.. gross. Something about the consistency was weird and just threw me off.
But, I didn’t let it stop me. I knew that avocados are really good for you and one of the top superfoods out there to incorporate into your diet. So I decided to start slow and sneak them into things before I went crazy and just ate them on their own.
How did I do that? By adding them to smoothies, sauces, and dips! If you’re curious about some recipes, I’ll be writing a post in the near future that includes over 30 amazing avocado recipes to try.
But first, let’s talk about nutrition! I’ve got 5 reasons why the avocado is so good for you AND your family!
HEALTH BENEFITS OF AVOCADOS: WHY THEY’RE SO GOOD FOR YOU
Fun fact: did you know that avocados are actually a fruit? Indeed they are.
Let me give you a quick analogy… If all fruits out there (apples, pineapples, oranges, lemons, etc.) were a bunch of high school students, the avocado would be the cool artsy kid wanting to stand out. You see, most fruits are typically high in carbohydrates and sugars. So they kind of all hang out together in the same crowd, right? But avocados, well these guys are different, they are high in fats and low in sugar. They definitely stand out!
Now, I want to debunk something before we go any further.
While many people know that avocados are incredibly healthy for you, some people are still confused by them. In fact, I remember talking to my friend about including half an avocado in my smoothies each morning… “Really? Don’t avocados make you fat?” she asked.
This seems to be a common misconception.
The truth is, nope, they don’t! Also, fat doesn’t actually make you “fat”. But that’s a whole other blog post we’ll save for another day.
Yes, avocados are high in fat, that is true, but it’s the GOOD kind of fat.
Not all fats are created equal (for example, french fries have saturated fat and those are the unhealthy fats). The fat in avocados is good fat with 5g coming from monounsaturated fat (MUFA) and 1g from polyunsaturated fat per 50g serving. This is something that the typical North American diet is actually deficient in. So avocados are a great way to incorporate more healthy fats into a well-balanced diet.
TOP 5 REASONS WHY YOU (AND YOUR FAMILY) SHOULD EAT AVOCADOS
I’ve already discussed some perks of eating avocados (hello healthy fats!) but here are my top 5 favorite benefits from avocados:
1. AVOCADOS ARE NUTRIENT DENSE
The health benefits of avocados don’t just come from their healthy fats. Avocados are also rich in vitamins and minerals. Here are some of the nutrients in just a single 3.5 ounce (100 gram) serving (1):
- Vitamin K: 26% of the RDA (recommended dietary allowance).
- Folate: 20% of the RDA.
- Vitamin C: 17% of the RDA.
- Potassium: 14% of the RDA.
- Vitamin B5: 14% of the RDA.
- Vitamin B6: 13% of the RDA.
- Vitamin E: 10% of the RDA.
- It also contains small amounts of Magnesium, Manganese, Copper, Iron, Zinc, Phosphorous, Vitamin A, B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin) and B3 (Niacin).
2. AVOCADOS ARE HIGH IN FIBER
Healthy Fiber helps to keep our digestion happy and blood sugars balanced. An Avocado contains 10.1 g of fiber per cup (150 g) (2)!
When consumed with an adequate amount of water, this fiber helps to promote healthy digestion and bowel movements.
So, if you or a family member is having trouble with constipation, drink more water and eat avocados! They will help to produce softer stools that are easier to pass (3).
3. AVOCADOS BOOST BRAIN HEALTH
The healthy monounsaturated fat in avocados helps to increase blood flow to the brain. They’re also high in phytonutrient polyphenols, flavonoid, potassium, and folate which are shown to help boost brain health and prevent Alzheimer’s (4).
That means more nutrients and oxygen are getting to parts of the brain that help you think and remember details.
Avocados also contain lutein. Studies have shown that this nutrient helps to create neural responses that were more on par with younger people. Lutein is a nutrient that the body can’t make on its own, so it must be acquired through diet. (5)
“As people get older, they experience typical decline. However, research has shown that this process can start earlier than expected. You can even start to see some differences in the 30s,” said Anne Walk, a postdoctoral scholar and first author of the paper.
“We want to understand how diet impacts cognition throughout the lifespan. If lutein can protect against decline, we should encourage people to consume lutein-rich foods at a point in their lives when it has maximum benefit.” (Science Daily)
4. AVOCADOS PROMOTE HEALTHY SKIN AND HAIR
With the avocado being jam-packed with vitamins and minerals, just eating them regularly will inevitably help give you healthier hair and skin. But if you apply them directly, you’ll be taking these amazing effects a step further!
Avocados make amazing face masks due to their fat, vitamin, and antioxidant content. They will help plump the skin and diminish fine lines.
Wanna try a diy avocado face mask?
Here’s a great one: Mash 1/2 a ripe banana, and 1/2 an avocado in a bowl and add the egg yolk. Apply to the face with fingertips and let sit for 20 minutes before rinsing. Repeat once a week. This mask will leave your skin softer and more nourished. (6)
To make a hair mask, mash one avocado with 2 Tbsp soft coconut oil. Apply to hair and massage into scalp. Leave on for 30 minutes, then shampoo and condition as normal. This mask will leave your hair feeling soft and frizz-free. (7)
5. AVOCADOS ARE IMPORTANT FOR EXPECTING MOTHERS AND BABIES
According to a recent study, avocados should be a staple in a pregnant woman’s diet:
“[Avocados] contain much higher amounts of the key nutrients folate and potassium, which are normally under-consumed in maternal diets. Avocados also contain higher amounts of several non-essential compounds, such as fiber, monounsaturated fats, and lipid-soluble antioxidants, which have all been linked to improvements in maternal health, birth outcomes and/or breast milk quality.” (8)
Not only that, they’re an excellent source of nutrients for growing babies and toddlers. Because they help to boost brain health, are nutrient dense, and easy to digest, they are great to add to babies diets when starting their first solids.
To make a simple avocado baby food recipe, puree or mash an avocado with a bit of breastmilk/milk/or water. If you puree, you’ll get a much smoother consistency than mashing. It depends on what your baby will prefer, so choose whichever method you like best.
Avocados were the first food we gave to our daughter, and she still loves them now as a toddler!
HOW TO BUY AND CUT AVOCADOS:
When selecting an avocado, the best way to tell if they’re ripe is by pressure. When you squeeze the avocado in your hand, it should feel a little soft. If it’s firm to the touch, it will still take a few days to ripen. If it feels really squishy or almost like there are air pockets inside, it’s probably too ripe and will be brown inside.
Practice makes perfect when selecting the perfect avocado. And the best way to do it is to choose a couple different avocados that feel a little different in pressure. Then you can see how quickly these will ripen once you take them home.
- If you have firm/hard avocados, you can place them in a bowl on your counter to help with the ripening process.
- Softer avocados should be placed in the fridge to help slow the ripening process before eating.
HOW TO SLICE AN AVOCADO:
- Cut the avocado in half lengthwise with a sharp knife. Once you feel the pit in the center, begin rotating around until you’ve cut through entirely. Twist and pull apart the two pieces.
- To remove the pit, take a sharp knife and chop into it once with enough pressure for the knife to stick into the pit. Give the knife a little twist and the pit will release from the avocado flesh.
- To make avocado slices, take your knife and score the avocado lengthwise. Next, take your spoon and scoop out the flesh. You can also dice the avocado using this same method.
EASY AVOCADO SNACKS:
- Avocado on toast: probably one of the easiest things to make. Mash the avocado on toast and sprinkle salt and paprika on top.
- Guacamole: homemade guacamole goes great with nacho chips, crackers, and veggies
- Smoothies: I like to add 1/4 or 1/2 of an avocado to my smoothies.
- Chocolate avocado ice cream: This chocolate avocado ice cream is the perfect treat to give a try!
Avocados are a family favorite in our house. We actually started our daughter on avocados right away – in fact, it was the first solid food she tried at 6 months! She’s loved them ever since.
But not every kid feels this way (and trust me, our daughter is picky with other foods). If you find that your kids don’t like the consistency, try adding them to smoothies, dips, and sauces to still give them the health benefits. The taste will be masked with other ingredients.
So what do you think? The health benefits of avocados truly are amazing. Will you try incorporating more of them into your diet? I sure hope so!