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All the Goodness of Avocados

You may have heard somewhere that avocados are good for you. Maybe you’ve been told about their good fats or the satiating fiber that avocados bring to the table. But did you know that these creamy green fruits — available year-round from Mexico — are also a natural source of more than a dozen essential vitamins, minerals, and trace elements?

These micronutrients are a necessary part of every healthy diet — that’s why they’re called “vitamins,” after all. The word comes from the Latin for “vital amine” because you need an outside source of them to live, and because early 20th century physicians suspected these compounds were based on amino acids. We know now that these molecules are much more complex and varied, but they aren’t any less necessary than they were 100 years ago!

Eating avocados daily is a great way to increase your nutrient intake, but buying fresh, ripe avocados may not always be an option for you. Learn how to pick the right avocados so you will have ripe ones all week with this helpful how-to video. Make sure you know how to choose perfectly ripe avocados (It’s easy: Hold the avo in the palm of your hand and give it a gentle squeeze).

Once you’ve bought your avocado allotment, what exactly are you getting with your daily dose of avo goodness? Let’s take a look at how avocado’s nutrients helps support a healthy body.

It’s a Complex Relationship

Five of the eight different B complex vitamins — B1, B2, B3, B5, and B6 – are present in avocados in trace amounts. You’ll get 4% of the thiamin (B1) that you need, 8% of riboflavin (B2), 6% of niacin (B3), a whopping 14% of pantothenic acid (B5), and 6% of pyridoxine (B6). The B vitamins have many functions, especially relating to metabolism. Thiamin is used to convert carbs to energy and plays a role in muscle contraction. Riboflavin is used to metabolize protein, in the production of red blood cells, and other cell growth processes, while niacin is important for both nerve function and digestion. Pantothenic acid is required for your body to be able to convert any food into usable energy. Finally, pyridoxine is also used to make red blood cells, during metabolism, and for proper functioning of nerves.

Avocados: A Bumpy-Skinned Vitamin Store

The goodness doesn’t stop with the B vitamins! There are trace amounts of Vitamins C, E, and K in avocados. Vitamin C, of which a third of an avocado will provide about 4% of your daily needs, is an antioxidant your body requires for healing and improves your absorption of iron as well. You’ll get 6% of your daily Vitamin E, which is vital for a healthy immune system, and 10% of your Vitamin K, required for blood clotting and bone health.

Incorporate avocados, then, into part of a balanced diet that allows you to meet your recommended daily allowances for each of these vitamins. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that is necessary for healing wounds. Vitamins and K are both fat-soluble molecules — you need to eat them with fat to absorb them, and they are used in a long list of vital body functions, including muscle growth, brain function, blood coagulation, and bone formation.

Meeting your daily nutritional needs can seem complicated and overwhelming, but studies have shown that you can meet your RDAs with a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. Avocados are an excellent choice — people who eat them regularly have been shown to have a better diet overall — but they are truly just the beginning. Get as many different types of produce in your day as possible, and you will be well on your way to optimal nutrition.

Finally, if you’re trying to get your daily serving of avocado but accidentally cut into one that isn’t quite ripe, don’t throw it out! Use this helpful tip to get that avocado just right by rubbing some lemon or lime on it, putting the two halves back together, wrapping them in plastic wrap, and putting them back in the fridge. For avo tips like this and more, please visit Avocados from Mexico’s helpful “how-to” page.

By Barbara Ruhs, MD, RDN April 03, 2017

An avid avocado-eater and guacamole-lover, Barb is the Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist for Avocados From Mexico and former sports nutritionist for Harvard University. Her philosophy on food is simple: Enjoy what you eat, prepare food with love, and add avocados to everything! 

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