Avocado (Persea Americana) has been a much-loved fruit for decades. In recent years, the love for this nutrient-rich fruit has gone a notch higher with many considering it a superfood. From making your heart stronger to reversing age-related hearing loss, the list of avocado’s health benefits is endless. But, does this seemingly magical fruit make the grade as far as superfoods are concerned? Well, here’s what you need to know:
What is Avocado?
Also known as the alligator pear, avocado is an evergreen tree belonging to the Lauraceae family. It’s native to the subtropical and tropical regions of South and Central America and can grow to a height of 20 meters.
The avocado fruit is characterized by yellowish or greenish flesh, and a delicate nutty flavour and buttery texture. It is rich in riboflavin, thiamin, vitamin A. Some avocado varieties may contain up to 25% unsaturated oil.
The leaves of the avocado plant are rich in estragole, an oil with cosmetic and insecticidal benefits.
Avocados have a high amount of calories compared to other fruits. They are also a rich source of insoluble and soluble fibres and unsaturated fat. You can eat avocados fresh, as a sauce, and in salads or desserts.
Why is Avocado Considered a Superfood?
The Guinness Book of Records mentions avocado as the most nutritious fruit, and it’s no surprise. Beneath the fruit’s inedible skin, monosaturated fat is its main ingredient. This is among the healthiest forms of fat, which is also found aplenty in olive oil and rapeseed. Here’s a breakdown of the health and nutritious benefits of avocado:
It Improves Heart Health
Thanks to its high amount of monosaturated fatty acids, avocados help to reduce the level of LDL cholesterol in the body while increasing the amount of HDL cholesterol. Avocado contains 30% more potassium than banana weight for weight. Thus, it plays an essential role in regulating blood pressure.
It’s a no-brainer that fats leave you feeling sated, and avocado is no exception. Despite being rich in nutrients and fats, avocados can help you to lose weight.
The high concentration of oleic acid and other essential nutrients helps to lower cholesterol levels, thus aiding in weight control. Avocados contain adequate calories and healthy fats that nourish the body rather than inducing weight gain.
We all want to achieve healthy and glowing skin. Avocado offers a natural and healthy way of giving your skin a much-desired glow.
When you apply avocado to the skin, it’s nutrients will penetrate the epidermis and soften the skin naturally.
Avocados boost the production of epidermis collagen, which is a key component in achieving healthy and flawless skin. It’s no surprise that avocado face masks are all the rage with the likes of Victoria Beckham.
Avocado Provides a Nutrient Boost to Pregnant Mothers and Foetuses
Avocado is rich in folic acid, a B vitamin that lowers the risk of common birth defects such as anencephaly and spina bifida. The fruit provides beneficial nutrients to both the mother and the unborn baby.
Protects Against Cancer
Studies suggest that individuals who eat avocado regularly are at a lower risk of getting cancer than those who don’t. Hass avocados, in particular, can kill pre-cancerous oral cells, thus protecting you against mouth, stomach, and lung cancers.
Many people suffer from osteoarthritis, a debilitating condition caused by the deterioration of the cartilage in the joints. Avocado is rich in chemicals known as phytosterols, which have anti-inflammatory properties. It not only reduces the pain that results from the condition but also prevents the loss of cartilage.
Prevents Hearing Loss
Raw avocados are a rich source of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that prevents hearing loss. Together with vitamin C, vitamin E helps maintain healthy blood flow and nerve health in your inner ears.
Should Consumers Be Wary of the Avocado Craze?
As things stand, there’s no escaping the avocado, with the obsession going beyond hipster circles. However, environmentalists have raised concern about the ecological impact of avocado cultivation.
They claim that it takes an average of 272 litres of water for one avocado fruit to grow to full maturity. This has had a significant impact on natural water reserves.
In South America, for instance, concerns have been raised about farmers channelling rivers illegally to their avocado farms, thus causing perennial water shortage.
In Mexico, the avocado obsession has led to massive deforestation, with farmers clearing large swathes of natural forests to plant avocado trees.
Today, the word “superfood” gets thrown around carelessly, but avocado is one of the few fruits that actually make the grade. Avocados not only taste yummy but also have dozens of health benefits.
Grace Allan is a food blogger who has a healthy obsession with superfoods, especially avocado. She believes that avocado is at the epicentre of the good food revolution.