Avocado Benefits

Avocado
Latin Name

Persea americana

Also Known As

Alligator Pear, Butter Fruit, Fertility Fruit, Midshipman's Butter, Spanish Pear

Origin

Central Southern Mexico

Parts Used

Whole Fruit

Traditional Use and Health Benefits

It is thought the Avocado originated in Mexico around 5,000 – 7,000 BCE. Archaeologists have discovered ancient Incan mummies were buried with domesticated Avocado seeds as far back as 750 BCE, making this another ancient superfood to come to us from South America.

The Avocado was extremely important among the indigenous peoples of ancient Mesoamerica, they knew this filling and nutritious fruit would give them valuable sustenance and also believed it had aphrodisiac qualities. They used it to promote fertility in both men and women, and the name “Avocado” derives from a Nahuatl Indian (Aztec) word “ahuácatl” meaning testicle.

Avocado Benefits

Packed With Healthy Fats

This nourishing superfruit is full of beneficial fats - raw and plant-based. The body needs health-supportive fats for optimal brain and cell function and, contrary to popular belief, eating a balanced portion of healthy fat will not make you fat. Since Avocados are full of the health-promoting monounsaturated fats that provide slow-burning digestible fuel, consumption will leave you feeling fuller for longer and even aid in keeping weight at an optimum level by boosting the metabolism. The inclusion of the right types of fats in the diet is crucial as it assists the body in healing and repairing itself from the cellular level upwards. Healthy fats actually help metabolise carbohydrates, can assist in supporting the reduction of unhealthy high cholesterol and control insulin levels for both low and high blood sugar.

Fatty acids also play a key role in regulating the central nervous system, reproductive health and cognitive processes because they have a maked effect on hormone levels, helping to balance hormones naturally. Getting enough healthy fats will help to boost your mood, and maybe its positive effect on reproductive health is the reason it was used to promote fertility by the ancients.

Nutrient Dense

Avocados contain an abundance of nutrients that are critical to human health. They are rich in chlorophyll – the compound that gives them their lovely green glow. Benefits of this life giving phytonutrient include; immune system support, potent antioxidant action, promotion of healthy circulation, it is anti-inflammatory, anti-aging and promotes a healthy digestive system.

Containing a plethora of vitamins and minerals, Avocados are purported to be one of the most nutrient dense foods in the world. With 18 essential amino acids (protein), high soluble fibre content and an unusually high amount of antioxidant, oil-soluble carotenoids, Avocados support almost every aspect of the body’s requirements for long term health.

Anti-inflammatory

Certain foods are more likely to contribute to the inflammation that can lead to disease. Processed foods, refined carbohydrates and grilled meats all raise the protein Interleukin-6 (IL-6) which is a marker of inflammation. Maintaining consistently high levels of this inflammatory protein is associated with a higher disease risk.

The anti-inflammatory properties of Avocados are so strong that they may actually offset less healthy food choices. This was borne out in a now famous study conducted by the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA), where one group participants were given a grilled hamburger made of 90% lean beef. The second group had the same hamburger but also ate half a medium sized Avocado. The burger only group experienced a spike in IL-6 levels by 70%, elevated triglycerides and a 27% decrease in peripheral blood flow. The Avocado group fared dramatically better - their IL-6 levels rose by only 40% and there was virtually no decrease in the peripheral blood flow.

Dr. David Heber, MD, PhD, the study’s lead researcher had this to say; “The study supports the hypothesis that fresh Avocado, may help support normal vascular function, which is important for heart health. After eating a burger with one-half of a fresh medium Avocado, some of the after-meal effects observed after eating the plain burger, specifically inflammation and narrowing blood vessels, were reduced within hours, and triglycerides did not increase beyond what was observed after eating the burger alone.”

Healthy Digestion

Avocados support digestive health in many ways. Firstly they are rich in soluble fibre which enables food to move more rapidly through the intestines whilst absorbing water to prevent constipation. They also contain potassium which is necessary to regulate fluid in the body - a deficiency in this important mineral is characterised by intestinal paralysis which can result in bloating, constipation and abdominal pain. Finally, Avocados are rich in B vitamins which are important in the metabolism of proteins, fats and carbohydrates.

Typical Use

Avocado Powder can be added to smoothies, encapsulated or rehydrated to make a tasty guacamole dip.

Fresh Avocados make a delicious addition to salads, can be mashed up to make guacamole and are used in many raw chocolate and mousse recipes. 

Folklore and History

Before its domestication by the ancient Mesoamericans, it is thought that the survival of the Avocado depended on large mammals that are now long since extinct. The theory is that these animals would eat the whole fruit - including the stone - and that by the time it was excreted, the seed would be ready to sprout. 

The Avocado was held in high esteem by the Aztecs, the Mayans and the Incas. For instance, the Aztecs believed the fruit provided strength to whomever consumed it, and in ancient Maya, the fourteenth month of their calendar (K’ank’in) is represented by the glyph for the Avocado.

The Pacal tomb inscriptions in Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico, which was built in 650 AD, show 10 figures representing Pacal’s ancestors. The figures emerge from the earth and behind each of them there is a tree with fruits. Avocado was among the fruits depicted, alongside other plants they revered such as; cacao, soursop, and chicozapote.

Avocado
Constituents

The Avocado fruit pulp contains up to 40% lipids (oils) composed of 80% of unsaturated fatty acids such as oleic, linoleic, linolenic, palmitic, stearic, capric, myristic. Compounds 11% unsaponifiables rich in sterols such as beta-sitosterol, estimasterol, campestrol, delta5-avenasterol and vitamin E.

Also are amino acids such as lysine, valine and leucine and considerable amounts of GABA (gamma amino butyric acid); carbohydrates, carotenoids, vitamins (B1, B6, Folate) and minerals salts (phosphorus, potassium and iron).

Precautions

People with a latex allergy should not consume Avocado. 

If you experience nausea and/or vomiting after eating Avocado you should consult your healthcare professional. 

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