The avocado is considered a ‘complete’ food whereby it provides in excess of 25 essential nutrients, including: vitamins A, B, C, E and K, iron, copper, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium. Indeed, you would need to eat two or three bananas to obtain the potassium content of one avocado. Avocados also provide protein, fibre and beneficial phytochemicals such as beta-sitosterol, glutathione and lutein. Moreover, the avocado has a fat content approximately 20 times the average of other fruits. It should be noted, however, that the avocado’s high-fat content consists largely of the healthy monounsaturates, namely oleic acid and linoleic acid.
The avocado’s nutritional profile boasts an array of health-promoting properties – antioxidant activity, heart, eye, kidney and prostate health, to name but a few. The avocado’s therapeutic benefits, however, are largely due to its high content of monounsaturated fats. These are known to improve skin texture, boost energy production, lubricate and reduce inflammation in joints, support the immune system, increase metabolism, and they can actually help you burn excess adipose fat. Another advantage of monounsaturated fat is its ability to lower artery-clogging LDL cholesterol and raise heart-healthy HDL cholesterol.
The avocado’s ability to lower cholesterol is further attributed to its beta-sitosterol content. This beneficial plant-based fat appears to block absorption of the ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol from the intestine, resulting in lower blood cholesterol levels. Indeed, research indicates that merely eating half an avocado daily can reduce levels of blood cholesterol by two points in four months.
Finally, avocados act as a nutrient ‘booster’ when combined with specific foods. The absorption of fat-soluble nutrients – alpha- and beta-carotene, for example, is enhanced when eaten in combination with the fruit. Enjoying a few slices of avocado in a mixed salad or salsa, therefore, not only enhances texture and flavour, but will greatly increase your body’s ability to absorb the health-promoting carotenoids offered by vegetables.
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