You’ve probably eaten an avocado if you haven’t heard of it. If you’ve ever ordered guacamole when picking up a delicious burrito at Moe’s or Chipotle, then you’ve had America’s favorite avocado dish. These fruits can also be used to make salads, tacos, and sometimes even desserts!
But there are many other important things that people don’t know about avocados and their benefits, especially their high nutritional value. We’ll discuss how nutritious can avocados be in this article.
What is an Avocado?
Avocado is a bright green fruit that has a large pit with dark leathery skin. They’re also called alligator pears or butter fruit in some countries. It’s a go-to ingredient for making guacamole dips. So, where did they come from? These wonderful bright green fruits are native to the Western hemisphere from Mexico south to the Andean regions, and they’re widely grown in warm climates.
If you’ve never seen an avocado, it has a yellowish or greenish flesh with a buttery consistency that gives off that rich nutty flavor that everyone loves. It’s also a popular condiment in Mexican cuisine.
Types of Avocados
There are many different types of avocados available; some are oval, and others are oblong. Some have thick skin while others have thin. But one thing they all share is the distinctive flavor that makes them a favorite for most chefs.
The most common types of avocados include:
- Hass – small, dark green, and bumpy.
- Choquette – large, bright-green, lighter in flavor, and less oily than Hass.
- Bacon – oval-shaped, smooth green skin, yellow flesh, and creamy texture.
- Fuerte – flavorful, pear-shaped, smooth, medium skin.
- Tonnage – green, pear-shaped, lower oil content, sweeter taste.
- Daily 11 – pear-shaped, baggy with thick skin, oil texture.
- Macarthur – hard green shell and creamy inner fruit, buttery and nutty when ripe.
- Shepard – green skin, longer than Hass, nutty flavor.
As we all know, having a diet containing various fruits and vegetables can really provide numerous health benefits. Sometimes it can reduce the risk of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and a whole lot more.
Here are the best benefits that avocados can offer to contribute to a healthy diet:
Rich in Nutrients
It’s rich in vitamins E, C, K, and B6, riboflavin, folate, niacin, pantothenic acid, magnesium, and potassium. Another amazing thing is that it provides beta carotene, lutein, and omega-3 fatty acids.
It also contains high levels of healthy, beneficial fats that can help you feel fuller between meals .
Half an avocado or 100 grams (g) contains:
- 14.7 g of fat
- 160 calories
- 6.7 g of fiber
- 8.5 g of carbohydrates
- Less than 1 g of sugar
We know that fat is essential for every cell in the body. Eating healthy fats may support skin health, helps support the immune system, and enhances the absorption of fat-soluble minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients.
Every 100 g of avocado has 76 milligrams of a natural plant sterol called beta-sitosterol. Consuming beta-sitosterol regularly and other plant sterols might help maintain healthy cholesterol levels, which is important for a healthy heart .
Helps Prevent Osteoporosis
Avocado has vitamin K, this nutrient is overlooked most of the time, but it’s important for bone health. Taking in enough vitamin K may support bone health by increasing its calcium absorption and reducing the urinary excretion of calcium .
May Benefit Eye Health
Lutein and zeaxanthin are phytochemicals that you can find in our eye tissue, and amazingly, avocados have this! It provides antioxidant protection that helps minimize the damage that we receive from UV light .
May Protect Against Cancer
The studies have not yet assessed a direct link between eating avocados and how it helps in the reduction of cancer risk. However, they do contain some compounds that may help prevent the onset of some cancers.
A study associated that an optimal intake of folate reduces the risk of developing stomach, colon, pancreatic, and cervical cancers [5,6].
It also contains high levels of carotenoids and phytochemicals, which may have anticancer properties. Some studies have shown that carotenoids may protect against cancer progression .
Supports Fetal Health
Folate is one of the important things for achieving a healthy pregnancy. An adequate folate intake reduces the risk of miscarriage and other neural tube abnormalities. Consuming at least 600 mcg of folate per day when pregnant is ideal. One avocado contains as much as 160 mcg.
Avocados contain fatty acids that play a big role in maintaining a healthy diet and fetal development .
Risks and Side Effects
We must note that there is a little risk in consuming avocados in moderation. But as with all foods, overeating can lead to unwanted outcomes. Since avocados have high-fat content, adding too many of them to your diet may lead to unintended weight gain.
It also contains vitamin K, which affects how blood thinners work, so you must be cautious.
For those who are taking blood thinners, it’s important to note what kind of blood thinners you take. For example, warfarin (Coumadin) it’s important to keep their vitamin K levels constant. This is because it’s not a great idea to suddenly eat more or fewer foods containing vitamin K because this plays a vital role in blood clotting.
Avocado seems too good to be true due to its amazing benefits. That being said, you must also be aware of the side effects it has.
Not Good for Breastfeeding and Pregnant Women
Avocados should be avoided by pregnant and breastfeeding women. It reduces milk production and has been known to damage the mammary gland. The babies’ stomachs are too sensitive to take in avocado.
Avocados are very high in calories, even though they’re healthy fats. If you eat too much, you might find yourself gaining weight.
Some people experience discomfort when ingesting avocados, usually in the form of bloating or flatulence. Ensure that you’re careful about eating it before going out.
It contains two components called anethole and estragole, wherein they can cause damage to your liver.
Some people experience allergic reactions when consuming avocado. Their common symptoms usually are hives, eczema, swollen skin, and itching.
If you have latex intolerance, avoiding avocado is the best thing you could do for yourself. It is known to increase the level of serum IgE, which heightens your sensitivity to avocado.
If you have this, make sure to avoid avocados. Because it is known to increase the effects and intensity of hypersensitivity when consuming avocados.
How to Grow an Avocado
You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to grow your avocado tree from seed. There’s nothing much easier than having your own avocado tree in your backyard, right? Do you want to know how to grow one? Below are the steps on how easy it is to grow your avocado tree.
- Remove and clean the pit.
- Locate the ends.
- Pierce it with three toothpicks.
- Get a glass of water, place the seed, and half-submerge it.
- Wait for it to sprout.
- When it’s about 15cm tall, place it on a pot with soil.
- Give frequent waterings, and watch it grow.
- Pinch out top leaves.
Babies and Avocados
Did you know that avocados are great for babies? This fruit can be introduced to babies when they’re ready to start eating solids, generally around 6 months. Since ripe avocados are very soft and loaded with nutrients, it is nice first food for babies.
Is It Healthy for Babies?
Of course! It’s pretty much a popular food for babies. Well, it’s easy to understand why preparing it is easy, and it’s also rich in fiber and healthy fats, which babies need to support digestion and brain development.
Is It a Common Choking Hazard for Babies?
Definitely not. It isn’t a common choking hazard when the fruit is ripe because of its soft texture. Just make sure to create a safe eating environment for the baby.
There are a lot of questions about avocados because they’re so interesting! Below are the common questions about this amazing fruit.
Is Avocado an Aphrodisiac?
Yes! They are considered natural aphrodisiacs due to having extremely high phytonutrients that help dilate blood vessels when you’re catching a mood for some afternoon delight.
How Can I Tell When an Avocado is Ripe?
Want to know if it’s ripe or not? Gently squeeze the fruit in the palm of your hand. If it’s firm and yields to gentle pressure, it’s ripe and ready to eat.
Are Avocados Gluten-Free?
Yes, of course. Since they are proudly cholesterol, sodium, and gluten-free, it’s vegan and vegetarian friendly.
Avocado is an edible fruit, botanically a large berry, produced by plants of the genus Persea. Avocados are commercially valuable and are cultivated in tropical and Mediterranean climates throughout the world. They also contain an impressive amount of nutrients and are rich in B6, fiber, vitamin C, vitamin E, potassium, copper, and folate. Eating it regularly may benefit your health in different ways by improving overall diet quality, protecting you against heart disease, improving satiety, and promoting gut health.
Disclaimer: This article is only a guide. It does not substitute the advice given by your own healthcare professional. Before making any health-related decision, consult your healthcare professional.
Editorial References And Fact-Checking
- Dreher, M. (2018, November 28). Whole Fruits and Fruit Fiber Emerging Health Effects. Nutrients, 10(12), 1833. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10121833
- Jiang, Y. H., Li, X., Niu, W., Wang, D., Wu, B., & Yang, C. H. (2020). β-Sitosterol regulated microRNAs in endothelial cells against an oxidized low-density lipoprotein. Food &Amp; Function, 11(2), 1881–1890. https://doi.org/10.1039/c9fo01976f
- Scott, T., Rasmussen, H., Chen, O., & Johnson, E. (2017, August 23). Avocado Consumption Increases Macular Pigment Density in Older Adults: A Randomized, Controlled Trial. Nutrients, 9(9), 919. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9090919
- Office of Dietary Supplements – Folate. (n.d.). Retrieved September 13, 2022, from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Folate-HealthProfessional/
- FoodData Central. (n.d.-b). Retrieved September 13, 2022, from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171705/nutrients
- Koklesova, L., Liskova, A., Samec, M., Zhai, K., Abotaleb, M., Ashrafizadeh, M., Brockmueller, A., Shakibaei, M., Biringer, K., Bugos, O., Najafi, M., Golubnitschaja, O., Büsselberg, D., & Kubatka, P. (2020, December 10). Carotenoids in Cancer Metastasis—Status Quo and Outlook. Biomolecules, 10(12), 1653. https://doi.org/10.3390/biom10121653
- Danielewicz, H., Myszczyszyn, G., Dębińska, A., Myszkal, A., Boznański, A., & Hirnle, L. (2017, November 3). Diet in pregnancy—more than food. European Journal of Pediatrics, 176(12), 1573–1579. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00431-017-3026-5