Avocados: Health Benefits, Side Effects & Nutrition Facts

Jessica Lewis
May 2, 2016
Health Benefits of Avocado

Avocado is a fruit from a tree that has the same name, it is native from Mexico and Guatemala (Central America), classified by flower family Lauraceae with camphor, cinnamon, and bay leaves. Both the fruit and the tree are comestible.

Avocados have been cultivated in these regions since 8000 BC. In the mid-17th century, they were introduced to Jamaica and spread throughout the tropical regions of Asia in the mid 19th century. The crop in the United States began in the 20th century. While avocados are grown in the most tropical and subtropical countries, large commercial producers are the United States of America, especially two of its states: (Florida on the East Coast and California on the West Coast of the USA), Mexico, Dominican Republic, Brazil and last, but not least Colombia.

Surprising Benefits of Eating Avocado

Even though it is a fruit, avocado most often is used as a vegetable, due to the absence of sweetness in flavor.

The avocado is known colloquially in some places as a lizard, reflecting its shape and appearance of its skin. Its name comes from the Aztec word “ahuacatl”.

It is the fruit of Persea Americana, an evergreen tree whose height can reach 20 meters. There are dozens of varieties of avocados. These varieties are divided into three main categories:

The first category is Avocados from Mexico, the second is represented by Guatemalan avocados and the third main category is West Indies avocado. The fruit differs in size, appearance, quality and sensitivity to cold.

The most popular type of avocado in the United States is the Hass Avocado.

The most distinctive thing about this avocado is that its skin turns from green to dark purple when ripe. The Hass avocado variety is grown mainly in California.

It is oval with small seeds, easy to peel and has an excellent flavor. The Hass avocado has a size medium to large and weighs between 140 and 340 grams. The skin of this type of avocado is rugged, but flexible and darkens to be ripe.

Another common type of avocado is called Strong. It is harvested from late autumn to spring. The Strong Avocado is the original California avocado and has a pear-shaped and medium-sized seeds, easy to peel with an intense flavor.

Strong avocado’s size is greater than the size of other types of avocados and it weighs between 141 and 400 grams. Its skin is soft and strong green, remaining green when ripe. The flesh of this variety of avocado is pale green.

Avocados vary in weight from 225g to 2 kilos, depending on the variety. The edible portion of the avocado is its yellow-green flesh, which has a smooth texture, the consistency of butter and a flavor reminiscent of walnut and hazelnut. Please remember that the skin and its bone are inedible.

8 Health Benefits of Avocado:

Healthy for the heart

It is shown that a cup of avocado has 23% of the daily value of folic acid we need, an important nutrient for our heart’s health.

The avocado is rich in potassium, a mineral that helps regulate blood pressure. Adequate intake of potassium can help prevent circulatory diseases, like high blood pressure, heart disease or stroke. It is a fact that diets containing foods that are good sources of potassium and low in sodium may reduce the risk of hypertension and stroke.

Studies have shown that individuals who consume diets rich in folic acid have a much lower cardiovascular disease or stroke than those who do not consume enough of this vital nutrient risk.

Improves the absorption of carotenoids

A study published in an edition of the Journal of Nutrition tested the hypothesis that, since carotenoids are lipophilic ( ie fat soluble ), foods rich in carotenoids along with the content of monounsaturated fat, could increase its bioavailability.

The addition of avocado to a salad improves the availability of the carotenoids, even when a very small amount of avocado is added.
Added to the salad, it increases the absorption of alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and lutein.

It’s a superfood to combat anemia

Avocado iron is assimilated pretty well. Its consumption should in all cases in which a greater supply of iron is needed, such as adolescence and pregnancy.

This fruit should not miss in the diet of those suffering from anemia blood loss or iron deficiency.

It is a fact that the iron from avocado is better than the one absorbed by the other plants, possibly due to their vitamin C content that promotes absorption.

It’s highly effective against oral cancer

Oral cancer is more deadly than breast cancer, skin cancer or cervical cancer. It has a mortality rate of about 50% due to late detection. Avocados are recommended for the prevention of oral cancer.

The phytonutrients found in Hass avocados, increase the amount of free radicals of pre-cancerous and cancerous cells, leading to its death. It causes no harm to normal cells. Initial investigations also indicate that Hass avocados may inhibit the growth of prostate cancer. This variety of avocado has the highest content of lutein among commonly consumed fruits, and large amounts of related carotenoids (zeaxanthin, alpha-carotene, and beta-carotene). Lutein represents 70% of the carotenoids measured. It also contains significant amounts of vitamin E.

It helps maintain proper blood sugar

Until a few years ago it wasn’t recommended for people with diabetes because its pulp contains a monosaccharide seven carbon atoms called heptose hand that increases blood sugar.

More recent studies have shown that avocado consumption it’s especially recommendable for diabetics. Not only it helps maintain proper blood sugar, but it lowers cholesterol and improves the lipid profile in the blood.

It’s one of the best foods to help your digestion

It’s an appropriate food for the diet of those suffering from stomach ulcer or gastritis, due to its alkaline reaction and the softening and protective effect on the mucous membranes with avocado fat.

Maintains good eyesight

Avocados increase absorption of nutrients called lutein and zeaxanthin. It is a fact that these nutrients are important for eye health.
The lutein and zeaxanthin found in avocados reduce the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts.
Therefore, if avocados are part of your food diet, your ocular health is in good hands.

It is an anti-anxiety food

Avocado contains fat very necessary for the metabolism of the nervous system, such as linoleic acid and phospholipids. It is also very rich in vitamin B6, one of the most important in the functioning of neurons. Therefore, it is an ideal for those who suffer from nervousness, irritability or nervous breakdown food.

In addition to all those mentioned above, the list of positive effects of consumption of avocado is one that seems almost infinite.
For this reason, we mention a few more of the many benefits of this fruit and some of the ways in which we can use it:

Avocado can deal with hair loss problems. Rub the head with the pulp of the ripe fruit by way of soap and after 15 minutes rinse with warm water. The result ? It gives shine to the hair and makes it grow.

If you suffer from diarrhea and dysentery (bloody diarrhea) what you have to do is chop half of a medium avocado very well and put it in a cup of boiled water. After you cover it for a moment you can drink it warm. For children is recommended a quarter of the pit instead of half of it.

Avocado Facts

  • Taken daily as an infusion (a quarter of the pit per cup of water) it strengthens the heart and removes the pounding heart.
  • Avocado seeds, serves to thyroid problems and obesity.
  • The cooking of the leaves, if taken twice a day, regulates menstruation.
  • If the avocado is eaten with sugar, it increases virility.

Side Effects of Avocados

Although it is a fruit with many health benefits, we must take into account that like bananas and nuts, avocados contain substances called chitinases that are associated with latex allergy syndrome fruit.

There is strong evidence of cross reaction between latex and these foods. If you are allergic to latex, you can most likely be allergic to avocado.
It is not recommended the consumption of avocado during breastfeeding because it may reduce the production of milk.
The Mexican avocado contains estragole and anethole. For this reason is recommendable to try to avoid, as it can cause damage to the liver.

Even so, the avocado is known as one of the perfect foods in the world, helping human beings and their lifestyle for centuries. The avocado contains oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that may help lower cholesterol.

In a study[1] of people with moderately high cholesterol levels, individuals who ate a diet that included avocados showed clear health improvements. After seven days with avocado diet, they had a significant decrease in total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, along with an 11% increase in HDL cholesterol, which is the good cholesterol.

Nutritional Values of Avocado

Minerals Vitamins Lipids
12 mg of Calcium, Ca  10 mg of Vitamin C 2.126 g of Fatty acids (saturated)
0.55 mg of Iron, Fe 0.06 mg of Thiamin 9.799 g of Fatty acids (monounsaturated)
29 mg of Magnesium, Mg 0.13 mg of Riboflavin 1.816 g of Fatty acids (polyunsaturated)
42 mg of Phosphorus, P 1.738 mg of Niacin
52 mg of Potassium, K 0.257 mg of Vitamin B-6
7 mg of Sodium, Na 81 µg of Folate, DFE
0.64 mg Zinc, Zn 2.07 mg of Vitamin E
21 µg of Vitamin K

Because of its great nutritional value, easy digestion, and its vitamin E, avocado ought to be a common food in the diet of children, adolescents, athletes, exhausted or stressed adults, the elderly, and that of all those who wish to increase their vitality in a natural way.

Avocado Recipe

Add 1 cup of milk, 1 ripe avocado, 1/2 yogurt, 3 tbsp. of honey