Thursday 4 May 2023

Are Avocados Good for You? 10 Science-Backed Effects of Eating Them

 Sure, avocados may not literally be an obstacle to millennials' ability to purchase property and homes as easily as their elders once did—but are avocados good for you? We know that avocados still reign supreme as the tastiest trendy toast toppers in town. Beyond toast, this vibrant green produce is also versatile enough to be used in many recipes for meals that can be eaten at any time of day, any day of the year. But suggesting that this omega-3-rich gift from nature is responsible for current barriers to entry in the real estate market isn't the only common misconception surrounding this controversial vege–…we mean, fruit.

"One factor about avocados that people tend to overlook is that they are a fruit, and some people may not realize that adding them to a healthy and balanced diet can offer positive effects," explains Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, registered dietitian and author of The First Time Mom's Pregnancy Cookbook and Fueling Male Fertility. "Another factor that may make people second-guess the amazingness of avocados is the fact that this fruit is higher in fat versus many other options. Avocados are virtually the only fruit with good fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats)."

In addition to being among the minority of fruits (disguised as a veggie) able to supply your body with a double-whammy of healthy fats, they provide a lengthy list of benefits that actually makes avocados an ideal food to support weight loss. But because avocados are known to contain a lot of fat and are high in calories, it's no surprise that many might still feel conflicted if not curious about other effects that eating an avocado may have on your body—and we're talking beyond just helping you burn some belly fat.

To really set the record straight on whether or not eating avocados is good for you, we spoke with a handful of registered dietitians, who educated us on how consuming the single-seeded berry native to Mexico affects your health. Below is a breakdown of what might happen to your body when you eat an avocado, particularly the benefits of eating this fruit. 

1. Avocados can elevate your daily dose of 20 vitamins, minerals, & antioxidants

Sliced avocado

Avocado consumption is ideal if you're looking to boost vitamin intake. A 2013 study showed an overall better quality of diet when avocados are consumed versus those who do not consume avocados.

"Avocados are packed with nutrition," explains Toby Smithson, MS, RDN, CDE, of DiabetesEveryDay and author of Diabetes Meal Planning and Nutrition. "They provide a great source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, vitamin C, E, K, B6, riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid magnesium, potassium, lutein, beta-carotene, and they are a plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids."

2. They can reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome

Metabolic syndrome doesn't actually refer to a single diagnosis—rather, it's used to describe the multiple simultaneous overlapping diagnoses that can work together to increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. However, avocado consumption has been linked to reducing the potential risk of developing this condition, as one 2013 study from The Nutrition Journal found. "The odds ratio for metabolic syndrome was 50% lower in avocado consumers vs. non-consumers," the study concludes.


3. They can help regulate your blood pressure & lower your risk of heart disease

Avocados are said to have associations with improved heart health. These heart-healthy benefits of avocado can help directly confront and manage high blood pressure, reducing your risk for chronic high blood pressure (aka hypertension), a condition that can play into metabolic syndrome. All of this, in turn, ultimately helps mitigate your risk of developing heart disease.

"Avocados are rich in potassium and low in sodium, which helps lower blood pressure, reducing your risk for heart attack or stroke," Smithson says, referring to a 2013 study.

"One serving of avocado provides 6% of your daily potassium needs," adds Manaker. "A diet rich in potassium can help offset some of sodium's harmful effects on blood pressure."

"When a low sodium diet and higher potassium diet is consumed," Smithson explains, "it yields an increase in sodium lost through urine and a lowering of blood pressure."

4. Avocados may help the body absorb iron

Cubed avocado

"Vitamin C is an antioxidant that promotes healing and helps the body absorb iron; it's recommended to get antioxidants through healthy foods—like avocados—and not supplements," says Manaker. "Avocados contain 4% of the daily value for vitamin C per 50-gram serving."

5. They may support bone health

"Avocados are a good source of vitamin K, a nutrient that the body needs to stay healthy," says Manaker. "Vitamin K is vital for blood clotting as well as healthy bones and also has other functions in the body."

In fact, eating one whole avocado fuels your body with about 42 micrograms of vitamin K, accounting for over 35% of your daily value.

"[Furthermore,] a systematic review and meta-analysis study of 225,062 people found an association between the increase of at least one serving of fruits and vegetables per day and decreased risk of bone fractures," adds Manaker. However, Manaker also notes that "this type of study has limitations and does not demonstrate a cause and effect, and further research is necessary to confirm these findings."

That said, the implications of these findings, coupled with the abundance of bone-fortifying vitamin K loaded into every avocado, appear promising in the case of this particular fruit and its ability to avoid broken bones.

6. They up your fiber intake

Fruit, vegetables, and beans are known to have high fiber content—and avocados are no exception.

"One serving of a medium avocado is low in carbohydrates, yet it contains three grams of fiber," says Smithson. "Consuming higher fiber may reduce the risk of heart diseaseType 2 diabetes, and obesity."


7. Avocados are linked to a lower risk of obesity

Avocados also contain nutrients that may reduce the risk of becoming overweight or obese. A 2019 Nutrients study showed that habitual avocado intake is associated with "a lower prevalence of excess weight, and attenuates adult weight gain in normal-weight individuals over time."

8. They can increase good cholesterol levels

While fats are known to be associated with high cholesterol, avocados are a unique exception. "Avocados are a heart-healthy source of fat," Smithson says. "They are free from cholesterol and saturated fat. Studies have shown an association with consuming the good type of fat (unsaturated) in avocados with an increase in good cholesterol levels (HDL)."

9. Avocados may lower your risk of type 2 diabetes

woman scooping out avocado with spoon

The fiber and fat content of an avocado has been said to lower your risk of Type 2 diabetes.

"The fiber content of an avocado helps you feel fuller faster, and the source of healthy fat helps with satiety levels, both of which can help with managing your weight and reducing your risk of Type 2 Diabetes," Smithson says regarding a 2009 study.

10. Avocados may improve your eye health

Who knew avocados could potentially keep your eyesight in top condition? A 2017 study found improvement in both cognition and vision for those who consumed one avocado per day.

"Avocados contain the antioxidant lutein," Smithson says. "Lutein plays a role in preventing age-related eye disease and offering improved cognitive performance."

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