Avocado (Persea Americana) is the perfect superfood for success.

It has so many health benefits; it is a gift from mother nature herself!
The avocado is a tree, long thought to have originated in South Central Mexico. The fruit of the plant also called an avocado (or avocado pear or alligator pear), is botanically a large berry containing a single large seed known as a “pit” or a “stone”. Many types of avocado vary in size shape and colour — from pear-shaped to round and green to black. They can also weigh anywhere from 210 grams to 1.4 kg. The most popular variety is the Hass avocado. It’s often called “alligator pear,” which is very descriptive, as it tends to be pear-shaped and has green, bumpy skin like an alligator.

Studies have shown that people who eat regular avocados are generally healthier than those that didn’t, had a much higher nutrient intake, and were much less likely to have certain life-threatening diseases like heart disease and diabetes. People who ate avocados regularly also had better weight control, and a lower BMI. They also had higher levels of “good” HDL cholesterol.
They are an ever increasingly popular addition to many dishes due to its pleasant flavour, creamy texture, and prized nutritional value.

Extensive research has found numerous health benefits, and a typical serving of avocado (100 grams) is very nutritious and has over 20 different minerals and vitamins including:

Vitamin K Folate Vitamin C
Potassium

Phosphorous

Vitamin B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin)

B5, B6

Magnesium

Copper, Iron, Zinc,

Vitamin A Manganese Vitamin E

100 grams also comes with:

160 calories 2 grams of protein 15 grams of healthy fats
9 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of which is fibre = 2 grams ‘net’ carbs making it a ‘low-carbohydrate’ friendly food.  Avocados are low in sodium and saturated fats.

1. Avocados have healthy fats

Avocado contains fat – but don’t panic its oleic acid, and it’s healthy for you. In fact, 77% of the calories in it are from fat, making it one of the fattiest foods in existence. Oleic acid is a monounsaturated fatty acid that is also the primary component of olive oil and believed to be responsible for some of its health benefits. Research shows that oleic acid may even be associated with reduced inflammation, [1] [2] and shown to have beneficial effects on genes linked to cancer. [3]

2. They can lower your cholesterol and triglyceride levels

With cardiovascular and heart disease the most common cause of death in the world, [4] avocado could play a vital role in combatting such devastating conditions.

Research has shown that avocados can.

  • Reduce total cholesterol levels significantly. [5]
  • Reduce blood triglycerides by up to 20%. [6]
  • Lower LDL cholesterol by up to 22%. [6]
  • Increase HDL (the “good”) cholesterol by up to 11%. [6]

Despite such astounding findings, a great deal more research is required in this area. However, there is no doubt that avocado is extremely healthy and beneficial to high cholesterol patients.

3. Avocados contain more potassium than bananas

Potassium is a very significant body mineral, essential to both cellular and electrical function within the body. It is one of the primary blood minerals called “electrolytes” (the others are sodium and chloride), which means it carries a tiny electrical charge (potential). Potassium is available in all fruits, vegetables, meat and fish. Foods with high potassium levels include parsley, dried apricots, milk, chocolate, nuts (especially almonds and pistachios), potatoes, bamboo shoots, bananas, coconut water, bran, soybeans and of course avocados.

The British National Health Service (NHS) recommends 3,500 mg per day in adults. However, most people do not consume enough of this vital mineral. Low potassium levels in the body can lead to high blood pressure [7] and hypokalemia. If you have hyperkalemia, you have too much potassium in your blood. The body needs a delicate balance of potassium to help the heart, and other muscles to work correctly. However, too much potassium in your blood can lead to dangerous, and possibly deadly, changes in heart rhythm. If your potassium levels are high it can cause the following symptoms:

  • Tiredness or weakness.
  • A feeling of numbness or tingling.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Trouble breathing.
  • Chest pain.
  • Palpitations or irregular heartbeats.

A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving packs 14% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of potassium, compared to 10% in bananas, which are a typical high-potassium food. A healthy person can consume at least seven-and-half bananas before reaching the recommended level.
We use it to help generate an electrical charge which allows the cells to function correctly. It helps to keep your heart rate steady, it also helps trigger insulin release from the pancreas to help control blood sugars, and more importantly, keeps blood pressure in check.

For a healthy person, it would be impossible to overdose on bananas. You would probably need around 400 bananas a day to build up the kind of potassium levels that would cause your heart to stop beating. Bananas are not dangerous – and in fact, they are, and always have been, very good for you.

4. Avocado Extract May Help Relieve Symptoms of Arthritis

Arthritis is widespread amongst the world’s population’s and comes in many forms. It can often be crippling, excruciating and seriously affect an individual’s mobility.
Research suggests that avocado and soybean oil extracts — called avocado and soybean unsaponifiables — can reduce osteoarthritis. [8] Whether avocados themselves have this effect remains to be seen.

5. Eating Avocado May Help You Lose Weight

Studies suggest that eating avocado may help you lose weight and maintain it along with a healthy lifestyle. In one study, people eating avocado with a meal felt 23% more satisfied and had a 28% lower desire to eat over the next 5 hours, compared to people who did not consume this fruit. [9] This suggests that eating regular avocado along with the other benefits can help you maintain a healthy weight by consuming fewer calories and consuming more fibre from a real food diet.
One study showed that adding avocado or avocado oil to either salad or salsa can increase antioxidant absorption 2.6- to 15-fold. [10]

In summary
There are much research and anecdote that suggests that we should all include avocado in our regular diet to maintain weight, health, and homeostasis within the body. Evidence suggests that they may play a significant role in certain severe conditions like cardiovascular disease and arthritis.

Not only are they delicious and nutritious and go with many types of food, there are numerous recipes including the ones below. You can add them to different types of salads or just scoop it out with a spoon and eat plain because the texture is so palatable.

Simple Recipes I Recommend

Guacamole

Serve with tortilla chips and chopped tomatoes

Ingredients
4 roughly chopped spring onions
1 chopped garlic clove
½-1 deseeded and chopped red chilli (to taste)
75 g (3oz) halved cherry tomatoes
Large bunch of fresh coriander
Juice of 1 lime
2 very ripe avocados

Instructions
Put 4 roughly chopped spring onions, 1 chopped garlic clove, ½-1 deseeded and chopped red chilli (to taste), a large bunch of fresh coriander, the juice of 1 lime and some seasoning into a food processor, and pulse until finely chopped. Add 75g (3oz) halved cherry tomatoes and pulse once or twice to break up. Halve 2 very ripe avocados and squeeze the flesh into a large bowl. Add the tomato mixture and mash roughly with a fork to mix. Check the seasoning and serve.

Avocado with poached egg on toast

Serve on your favourite bread

This breakfast recipe is full of good fats and protein, which will keep you full until lunch!
Ingredients
4 med eggs, the fresher the better
2 ripe avocados
juice 1 lemon
1 tsp chilli flakes or 1/2 red chilli, finely chopped
4 slices sourdough bread, toasted

Instructions
Heat a pan of lightly salted water to a simmer. Crack one of the eggs into a cup, then make a whirlpool with a spoon in the water and carefully tip the egg into the water. Repeat with a second egg. Cook each egg for 3-4min until white is barely set. Remove eggs with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Repeat with remaining eggs, bringing water back up to a simmer.
Meanwhile, halve and de-stone avocados. In a large bowl, roughly mash avocados, lemon juice and chilli. Season to taste.
Spread avocado mixture over the sourdough, top each serving with an egg and serve immediately.

Grilled avocado, tomato and mozzarella salad

Healthy and delicious

Grilled avocado sounds faintly ridiculous until you try it – lightly smoky and very addictive
Ingredients
1 kg (2lb 2oz) mixed tomatoes – look out for heirloom varieties
2 avocados
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
2 x 125 g (4oz) balls buffalo mozzarella, drained
Large handful of Greek basil or punnet of cress
Balsamic vinegar, to drizzle

Instructions
Start by preparing the tomatoes. To add interest to your salad, chop all your tomatoes differently – halve or quarter smaller ones, slice or roughly chop larger ones. Put all the tomatoes into a colander, sprinkle over ½tsp salt, toss together and leave in the sink for 20min – this will help any excess, flavourless moisture drain out of the tomatoes.
Meanwhile halve, peel and stone avocados. Slice the flesh into 1cm (½in) thick slices. Preheat a griddle pan over high heat. Brush avocado slices with the oil and arrange neatly on the griddle. Leave in place until charred black lines appear on the underside of the slices, then flip and repeat on the other side.
To serve, tip tomatoes on to a large flat platter. Rip mozzarella into bite-sized pieces and dot among the tomatoes. Snip over cress or sprinkle over basil. Season with freshly ground black pepper and drizzle over some balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. Serve with crusty bread.

References:

  1. Basu A, Devaraj S, Jialal I (2006). “Dietary factors that promote or retard inflammation”. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 26 (5): 995-1001.
  2. Yoneyama S, Miura K, Sasaki S, Yoshita K, Morikawa Y, Ishizaki M, Kido T, Naruse Y, Nakagawa H (2007). Dietary intake of fatty acids and serum C-reactive protein in Japanese. J Epidemiol. 17 (3): 86-92.
  3. Menendez JA, Luou R (2006). “Mediterranean dietary traditions for the molecular treatment of human cancer: anti-oncogenic actions of the main olive oil’s monounsaturated fatty acid oleic acid”. Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 7 (6): 495-502.
  4. http://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/the-top-10-causes-of-death
  5. Alvizouri-Munnoz M, Carranza-Madrigal J, Herrera-Abarca JE, Chavez-Carbajal F, Amezcua-Gastelum JL (1992). “Effects of avocado as a source of monounsaturated fatty acids on plasma lipid levels”. Arch Med Res. 23 (4): 163-7.
  6. Lopez Ledesma R, Frati Munari AC, Hernandez Dominguez BC, Cervantes Montalvo S, Hernandez Luna MH, Juarez C, Moran Lira S (1996). “Monounsaturated fatty acids (avocado) rich diet for mild hypercholesterolemia”. Arch Med Res. 27 (4): 519-23.
  7. Whelton PK, He J, Cutler JA, Brancati FL, Appel LJ, Follmann D, Klag MJ (1997). “Effects of oral potassium on blood pressure. Meta-analysis of randomized controlled clinical trials”. JAMA. 277 (20): 1624–32.
  8. DiNubile NA (2010). “A potential role for avocado and soybean-based nutritional supplements in the management of osteoarthritis: a review”. Phys Sportsmed. 38 (2): 71-81.
  9. Wien M, Hadda E, Oda K, Sabate J (2013). “A randomized 3×3 crossover study to evaluate the effects of Hass avocado intake on post-ingestive satiety, glucose and insulin levels, and subsequent energy intake in overweight adults”. Nutr J. 27:1:155
  10. Unlu NZ, Bohn T, Clinton SK, Schwartz SJ (2005). “Carotenoid absorption from salad and salsa by humans is enhanced by the addition of avocado oil”. J Nutr. 135 (3): 431-6.

 

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