AvocadosContain More Potassium Than Bananas: Support Heart Health

The avocado tree, also known as Persea americana, is a member of the laurel family and can grow between 30–40 feet tall.  It has greenish-yellow flowers and produces a single-seeded berry known as the avocado. There are different types of avocados.

Nutrition Facts

Each avocado is rich in fiber, vitamin K, folate, vitamin C and potassium, along with a good amount of heart-healthy fats and minimal avocado carbs.

According to study, about 136grams without the skin and seed contains the following:

  • 227 calories
  • 11.8 grams carbohydrates
  • 2.7 grams protein
  • 21 grams fat
  • 9.2 grams fiber
  • 28.6 micrograms vitamin K (36 percent Daily Value)
  • 121 micrograms folate (30 percent DV)
  • 12 milligrams vitamin C (20 percent DV)
  • 0.4 milligrams vitamin B6 (20 percent DV)
  • 2 milligrams pantothenic acid (20 percent DV)
  • 689 milligrams potassium (20 percent DV)
  • 2.7 milligrams vitamin E (13 percent DV)
  • 2.6 milligrams niacin (13 percent DV)
  • 0.2 milligrams copper (12 percent DV)
  • 0.2 milligrams riboflavin (11 percent DV)
  • 39.4 milligrams magnesium (10 percent DV)
  • 0.2 milligrams manganese (10 percent DV)
  • 0.1 milligram thiamine (7 percent DV)
  • 73.4 milligrams phosphorus (7 percent DV)
  • 0.9 milligrams zinc (6 percent DV)
  • 0.8 milligrams iron (5 percent DV)
  • 200 international units vitamin A (4 percent DV)

It is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids, choline, betaine, calcium and selenium.

Support Heart Health

According to studies, avocados (and particularly avocado oil) promote heart health by balancing blood lipids.  With regards to its chemical composition, the  avocado fat content is about 71 percent monounsaturated fatty acids, 13 percent polyunsaturated fatty acids and 16 percent saturated fatty acids. Diets that are moderately high in healthy fats — especially monounsaturated fat, or MUFAs — are known to block plaque buildup in the arteries more effectively than diets high in insulin-spiking carbohydrates. Dreher & Davenport,2013, agrees that, apart from the fat content, the fiber in avocado and the presence of beta-sitosterol compounds, magnesium and potassium may also help reduce cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

Ledesma et al, 1996, study demonstrates in clinical studies evaluated avocado-enriched diet to both healthy adults and people with high cholesterol and examined the results. After just one week, the result revealed that, the  healthy people with normal lipid levels after eating avocados their total cholesterol levels dropped 16 percent. The results observed in the high-cholesterol group were even more insightful. Not only did total cholesterol drop 17 percent, but so did LDLs (22 percent) and triglycerides (22 percent), while their levels of good HDL cholesterol actually increased by 11 percent.

Decreases Risk of Metabolic Syndrome

Some other avocado health benefits include help with high blood sugar, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity and excess belly fat.

One study conducted byFulgoni et al, 2013, examined the eating habits of 17,567 U.S. adults over a seven-year period. The result proved that people who ate avocados regularly tended to have a more balanced and better quality diet than non-avocado consumers, plus a higher intake of fruits, veggies, healthy fats fat and fiber. Consumption of avocados was also linked to a lower body weight, body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference, as well as higher levels of good HDL cholesterol. Researchers also found that those who ate the avocados were 50 percent less likely to develop metabolic syndrome than non-consumers.

Supports Eye, Skin and Hair Health

One of the avocado benefits for skin is being nature’s best moisturizer, and that being completely free from added synthetic chemicals.Avocados are high-antioxidant foods that contain lutein, a type of carotenoid that protects eye health and preserves healthy, youthful-looking skin and hair. Carotenoids are a group of antioxidant phytochemicals found in veggies like carrots, squash and sweet potatoes that are known for blocking the effects of environmental toxins like pollution and UV light damage. One notable study conducted by Johnson, 2002,  demonstrates that dietary carotenoids provide health benefits related to disease prevention, particularly certain cancers of the skin and age-related eye disorders like macular degeneration. Lutein appears to be beneficial for eye health because it absorbs the type of damaging blue light rays that enter the eyes and skin, changing DNA and causing free radical damage. Unlu et al, 2005, study further agrees that adding avocado to a meal can help boost carotenoid absorption.

 Fights Cancer Cell Growth

Ding et al, 2009, study of an in vitro for instance, which claimed that the phytochemicals in avocados are so powerful that they could help kill off oral cancer cells was taken up by Researchers from Ohio State University for further investigation. D’Ambrosio et al, 2011, study proves  that the specific phytonutrient combination found within each avocado may hold the key to its anticancer effects.

Another study by Paul et al, 2011, demonstrates that phytochemicals extracted from avocados help induce cell cycle arrest, inhibit growth and promote apoptosis in precancerous and cancer cell lines. Studies indicate that avocado phytochemicals extracted with 50 percent methanol help in proliferation of human lymphocyte cells and decrease chromosomal changes.

Another reason that avocados are being linked to reduced risks for both cancer and diabetes is their content of monounsaturated fatty acids. These have been demonstrated in a study by Simonsen et al, 1998, to provide better protection against chronic disease compared to other types of fatty acids because of their ability to lower inflammation.

Another study by Sayeed et al 2015 asserts thatBeta-sitosterol, another compound found in avocados, is also highly protective of the prostate and linked to better immune function and lower prostate cancer risk.

To be Continued

BY DR. RAPHAEL NYARKOTEY
OBU, ND, PHD

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