The avocado is a large fruit tree probably originating in south central Mexico, classed as part of the fruits tree family Lauraceae. The fruit of this plant, commonly known as an avocado, is medically a large, seed-like fruit with a single big seed. This avocado has many similar characteristics with its domesticated counterpart the tomato, with the only main difference being that the tomato is cultivated in temperate climates. The avocado is also native to South America but is cultivated in tropical regions throughout the world.
Like many other legumes (with the exception of kidney beans and African beans), the avocado is high in fat and protein. In addition to its high protein content, the avocado is also a rich source of oleic acid, monounsaturated fats, and Vitamin A. Avocado has been found to have beneficial effects on cardiovascular diseases, HIV/AIDS, cancer, and weight control. These benefits are due in part to the presence of monounsaturated fatty acids (MFA) in the avocado, which raise the levels of cholesterol in the body and lower blood pressure.
A study conducted by USDA data supports the claim that avocados contains soluble fiber. The test found that the solids contained within avocados are insoluble in cholesterol and do not increase blood cholesterol levels when eaten. The soluble fiber also appears to protect against heart disease by lowering the risk of atherosclerotic strokes. Further studies have supported the idea that these polysaccharides have a role in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels, lowering blood pressure, reducing inflammation, and lowering LDL cholesterol. Further, the avocado is rich in potassium, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, and dietary fiber.
Another area where avocado is useful is in relation to pregnant women. There have been reports in recent years that pregnant women following a low fat, low-sugar diet due to pregnancy may experience rebounding after childbirth. This is attributed to the lack of essential nutrients such as potassium and magnesium while pregnant. One study that looked at this problem did find that consuming certain edible fruit juices and plant foods high in potassium could help. However, one study found that potassium from avocado was the most beneficial when combined with other nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, and folic acid.
In addition to healthy eyesight, another area where avocado is beneficial is in relation to hypertension. Preliminary studies show that ingestion of avocado is helpful in lowering blood pressure in patients with mild hypertension. These findings are supported by research from the USDA National Nutrient Data Center. The consumption of potassium-rich foods has been shown to lower blood pressure naturally. Avocados also contains sodium, another thing that can cause hypertension.
In addition to avocado and its numerous other benefits, many natural health practitioners are recognizing the many potential uses of avocados in functional medicine. According to Kelly Lambert, PhD and Director of Natural and Holistic Healing, “Avocado is a powerful superfood.” She credits avocado’s nutritional benefits to its rich protein, potassium, and fiber content. “The more nutrients you have in your daily diet, the better off you’ll be.” Additionally, she notes that it is the fiber found in avocados that makes them particularly healthy for digestion.
One of the things that make avocado oil so beneficial to our health is its omega-3 fatty acids. Avocados contain two to three times more omega-3 fatty acids than any other food and are packed with health-giving compounds including fibers, potassium, vitamins A and E, and others. One of these fatty acids, omega-3, has proven to reduce the chances of heart disease and stroke, while increasing good cholesterol levels. The wonder ingredient is called niacin, which you will find listed on every nutrition label as an “essential nutrient”. Researchers have linked high levels of niacin to lower blood pressure. If you want to reduce high blood pressure, add niacin to your diet; many manufacturers use this compound as a preservative in their products.
In addition to avocado and fiber benefits, researchers have discovered that eating avocados can reduce bad cholesterol levels and may help reduce the buildup of plaque in arteries, which can lead to coronary artery disease. It is this fatty acid component that may help reduce LDL cholesterol, which is the kind of cholesterol that circulates through arteries and may contribute to atherosclerosis. While avocado does not provide complete coverage of all the nutrients and dietary fibers contained in natural avocados, it certainly has a lot to offer. For a complete source of nutrients, including fiber, minerals, protein, essential fatty acids, and other important polyphenols, choose only organic whole foods that are grown without the help of chemical fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, or genetically modified seeds.