Avocados may be the world’s most misunderstood fruit (yep, it’s a fruit, not a vegetable), all too often shunned because they’re believed to be overloaded with fat and calories.
But wait! The avocado’s fat is the good kind (more on that in a minute!) and its calories serve as fuel to power you through a busy day. And there are lots of other benefits, too. Here are 13 facts about avocados that will make you want to eat one every day.
Not all fats are bad, and the kind of fat in avocados is the good kind. Recent research suggests that monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats — the fats in avocados — can help lower your cholesterol, so go ahead and eat that guac without guilt! Why are these fats naturally good? Because the body needs some dietary fat in moderation to help with absorption of nutrients. Good fats, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, do not raise LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels. In fact, good fats are recommended as a replacement for bad fats. Avocados contain 6g of naturally good fat per 50 g serving, one-third of a medium avocado.
Speaking of cholesterol, you don’t even have to think about that gunk that clogs your arteries and puts you at risk for heart disease when you’re eating an avocado because the great green fruit has no cholesterol at all.
If you’re worried about sodium sending your blood pressure soaring, add some potassium to your diet. Avocados contain 254mg of potassium per 50 g. serving (one-third of a medium avocado. A diet rich in potassium helps offset some of the harmful effects of sodium on blood pressure. Avocados have no sodium (unless, of course, you’re sprinkling it liberally with some coarse sea salt).
Diets rich in foods containing fiber, such as some vegetables and fruits, may reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. Avocados are a good source of fiber (3 g per 50 g serving) and are a great fresh fruit option to help boost fiber intake.
Lu-what? You don’t really need to understand the technicalities of lutein to understand its benefits to the body. Found in leafy green veggies, carrots, and, yes, avocados, lutein’s best-known job is that of contributing to maintaining eye health as we age. One serving of avocado (one-third of a medium avocado) contains 136 micrograms of the carotenoids lutein + zeaxanthin. Lutein and zeaxanthin are plant pigments found in the macula of the eye, and some research suggests that they may help maintain eye health as we age.
We all know that the sun’s UV rays can do some serious damage to skin, causing premature aging and, in a worst-case scenario, even cancer. Did you know that avocados can be applied directly to the skin for an all-natural skin care treatment?
If you’re sensitive to dairy products or you just don’t like them but you love the creamy texture they give to a dish, avocado might be an ideal substitute. Avocados have all the flavor and silky smoothness of dairy — without the lactose — and can play a starring role in smoothies, popsicles, and even puddings!
In addition to all the advantages mentioned above, one-third of a medium avocado (50 g) has 80 calories and contributes nearly 20 vitamins and minerals, and phytonutrients. Avocados have 6 percent of your daily recommended intake of Vitamins E and 4 percent of your daily value for Vitamin C. Suddenly, all those worries about fat and calories are taking a back seat aren’t they?
If you’re a mom-to-be, you’ve no doubt heard about how important folate is for fetal development. Avocados provide a good source of folate per 50 g serving (one-third of a medium avocado). Folate is important for proper brain function. Consuming adequate intakes of folate/folic acid may reduce the risk for premature births and birth defects.
While you may be hard-pressed to convince your picky preschooler to eat avocado, babies who are being introduced to solids tend to love avocado — the perfect introduction to big-kid food. The avocado’s smooth creamy consistency makes it an appropriate first food a baby can enjoy. *Talk to your pediatrician about what’s right for your baby. *based on recommendations from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Even if you don’t eat avocados, you can enjoy many of the benefits you’ve read about here. Avocado oil can be used in salads as well as for cooking; its high smoke point means that it’s great for stir-frying, sautéing, and baking, and it carries the flavor of other ingredients well.
It’s not a well-known fact in the United States, but Avocados from Mexico are available year-round, so you can enjoy all of these benefits 365 days a year!