Everything You Need To Know About Avocado
By Adda Bjarnadottir, MS
Rich in monounsaturated fats, the avocado has a smooth and creamy texture. It is much higher in fat than most other fruits.
The consumption of avocados has been associated with various health benefits, such as decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. They are also very satiating and may be useful for weight loss.
Avocados can be eaten raw, but are also commonly used in foods like guacamole.
There are many different types of avocados, varying in color, size and shape.
Avocados are usually pear-shaped to round and they come in many different shades of green, ranging from pale green to almost black when fully ripe.
The most popular type is called Hass avocado, which is round with black skin.
Avocados are popular as ingredients in salads or dips.
The avocado consists of 73% water, 15% fat, 8.5% carbohydrates (mostly fibers) and 2% protein.
Half an avocado (68 grams) contains 109 calories, corresponding to 160 calories per 100 grams.
The table below contains information on the vitamins in avocados per 100 grams (1).
|Vitamin A||7 µg||1%|
|Vitamin C||10 mg||11%|
|Vitamin D||0 µg||–|
|Vitamin E||2.07 mg||14%|
|Vitamin K||21 µg||18%|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)||0.07 mg||6%|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)||0.13 mg||10%|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)||1.74 mg||11%|
|Vitamin B5 (Panthothenic acid)||1.39 mg||28%|
|Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)||0.26 mg||20%|
|Vitamin B12||0 µg||–|
Compared to other fruits, avocados contain very little sugar.
Half an avocado (68 grams) contains only 0.5 grams of sugar, in the form of glucose, fructose and galactose (2).
The net digestible carbs are only 1.8 grams for each 100 grams of avocado.
Because of the low sugar content, they are expected to have a very low glycemic index score, which means that they should not raise blood sugar levels much (3).
Fiber occupies most of the carbohydrate content (79%) of avocados.
Half an avocado provides 4.5 grams of fiber, which is very high.
Dietary fiber is an important dietary component with many health benefits.
Avocados also contain FODMAPs(fermentable oligo-, di-, monosaccharides and polyols), which are short-chain carbohydrates that some people cannot digest (8).
Not everyone is sensitive to FODMAPs, but they may cause unpleasant digestive symptoms in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Bottom line: Avocados contain a lot of fiber, and very little sugar. They also contain FODMAPs, short chain carbs that may cause unpleasant digestive symptoms in some people.
Avocado oil is an excellent source of “good” fats, which have beneficial effects on inflammation.
As a rich source of monounsaturated fatty acids, the avocado is a very unusual fruit.
The most abundant fatty acid is oleic acid, which is also the main component of olive oil.
Bottom line: Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, mainly oleic acid. They may help protect against heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Vitamins and minerals
Avocados are rich in many essential vitamins and minerals. The most abundant ones are listed below.
- Folate (B9): Avocados contain a lot of folate, which is important for normal cell function and tissue growth, and is particularly important for pregnant women (14, 15).
- Vitamin K1: Vitamin K1 is important for blood clotting, and may have benefits for bone health (16, 17).
- Potassium: An essential mineral, beneficial for blood pressure control and heart health (18, 19). Avocados actually contain more potassium than bananas(1).
- Copper: A trace element that is relatively low in the Western diet. Low copper intake may have adverse effects on heart health (20).
- Vitamin E: A powerful antioxidant, often found in high amounts in fatty plant foods.
- Vitamin B6: A group of related vitamins that help convert food into energy.
- Vitamin C: An antioxidant that is important for immune function and skin health (21).
Bottom line: Avocados are rich in many vitamins and minerals, such as B-vitamins, vitamin K, vitamin E, vitamin C, potassium and copper.
Other plant compounds
These are the main plant compounds in avocados:
- Carotenoids: Avocados contain many carotenoids, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, which are important for eye health and may reduce the risk of age-related eye diseases (22, 23).
- Persenones A and B: Unique antioxidants that may have protective effects against inflammation and cancer (24, 25).
- D-Mannoheptulose A type of sugar found in avocados, claimed to assist with blood sugar control (26, 27, 28).
Avocados are very high in carotenoid antioxidants, and eating fat along with these antioxidants tends to increase their absorption into the body.
Because avocados are high in fat, the carotenoid antioxidants in them are particularly well absorbed (29).
Bottom line: Avocados are rich in plant compounds, such as carotenoids, antioxidants and a sugar called D-Mannoheptulose. The carotenoids are well absorbed because of the high fat content of avocados.
Avocados are high in antioxidants and many important nutrients, some of which are rare in the modern diet.
For this reason, it is not surprising to see that avocados have numerous health benefits.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the world (30).
Research has shown that avocado consumption may reduce blood cholesterol and triglycerides significantly, as well as lower the potentially harmful LDL cholesterol and increase the good HDL cholesterol (35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40).
Satiety and weight loss
Some people think that avocados are fattening because of their high fat content, and should therefore be avoided in calorie restricted diets (38).
However, eating avocados does not seem to prevent weight loss in overweight people.
For this reason, avocados may be an excellent addition to an effective weight loss diet.
Reducing symptoms of arthritis
Arthritis is a common problem in Western countries, characterized by progressive deterioration of the joint cartilage.
Avocado and soybean unsaponifiables are supplements made from avocado oil (33%) and soybean oil (66%), primarily used to suppress symptoms in people with arthritis.
Bottom line: Avocados may reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels, both of which are major risk factors for heart disease. They are also very filling, and may reduce symptoms of arthritis.
Avocados are safe to eat for the majority of people, but may cause problems in individuals with allergy or irritable bowel syndrome.
In latex-fruit syndrome, the immune system attacks fruit proteins that are similar to the allergy-causing proteins in latex.
FODMAPs and irritable bowel syndrome
Avocados contain FODMAPs, short-chain carbohydrates that may cause problems in people with irritable bowel syndrome.
If you have digestive issues, then monitor your symptoms carefully after eating avocados.
Bottom line: Avocado allergy is rare, but they may cause allergic reactions in individuals who suffer from latex allergy. They also contain FODMAPs, which may cause digestive symptoms in sensitive individuals.
Avocados are very filling, incredibly nutritious and taste really good.
They are a good source of several vitamins, minerals and plant compounds, and may have benefits for heart health and arthritis.
All things considered, avocados are an excellent addition to a healthy diet.
Avocados Can Help To Treat Metabolic Syndrome, Says Review
The presence of at least three of these risk factors warrants a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome.
According to the American Heart Association, metabolic syndrome affects around 23 percent of adults in the United States.
Adopting a healthful diet is considered one of the best ways to prevent or treat metabolic syndrome. The new review – recently published in the journal Phytotherapy Research – suggests that avocados should form a part of this diet.
Avocados are a fruit from the avocado tree, or Persea americana, which is native to Mexico and Central and South America.
A number of studies have documented the possible health benefits of avocado. A study reported by Medical News Today in 2014, for example, found that eating half an avocado with lunch may aid weight loss, while more recent research linked the fruit to reduced levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, known as “bad” cholesterol.
For their review, co-author Hossein Hosseinzadeh, of Mashhad University of Medical Sciences in Iran, and colleagues set out to determine how these components might help to combat the risk factors of metabolic syndrome.
Avocado has strongest effect on cholesterol levels
To reach their findings, the researchers analyzed the results of various in vivo, in vitro, and clinical studies that investigated the effects of avocado on metabolic health.
Hosseinzadeh and colleagues found that the fruit has the strongest impact on lipid levels – that is, levels of HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglycerides.
As an example, the team points to one study of 67 adults, of whom 30 had a healthy lipid profile and 37 had mild hypercholesterolemia. After adhering to an avocado-enriched diet for 1 week, both groups showed significant reductions in total and LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
“The reported mechanism of this effect was regulating of the hydrolysis of certain lipoproteins and their selective uptake and metabolism by different tissues such as liver and pancreas,” explain the authors.
“Another possible mechanism could be related to the marked proliferation of the liver smooth endoplasmic reticulum which is known to be associated with induction of enzymes involved in lipid biosynthesis.”
An ‘herbal dietary supplement’ to help treat metabolic syndrome
The review also uncovered evidence that avocado is beneficial for weight loss. The researchers cite one study that found overweight or obese adults who ate one avocado every day for 6 weeks experienced significant decreases in body weight, body mass index (BMI), and the percentage of body fat.
Additionally, the team identified a number of studies associating avocado intake with reductions in blood pressure among patients with hypertension, and evidence suggests that the fruit might also help to reduce atherosclerosis – the narrowing or hardening of arteries caused by a buildup of plaque.
Notably, Hosseinzadeh and colleagues found that it is not just the flesh of the avocado that can benefit metabolic health – the peel, seed, and leaves of the fruit may also help.
One study published in 2014, for example, found that a daily dose of oil extracted from avocado leaves led to reductions in total and LDL cholesterol and blood pressure.
Overall, the researchers conclude that avocado may be effective for the treatment of risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome, though further research is warranted. They write:
“In this review article, satisfactory clinical evidence suggested that avocado can be used as herbal dietary supplements for treatment of different components of [metabolic syndrome].
Although, avocado like other herbal products is safe and generally better tolerated than synthetic medications, there is limited scientific evidence to evaluate different side effects because of contaminants, or interactions with drugs. Besides, further studies need to be accomplished on the metabolic effects of different parts of avocado for other possible mechanisms.”
Is Avocado Good For Diabetes?
By Jennifer Berry
But can people with diabetes eat this food? It turns out that avocados are not only safe for people with diabetes, but they may be downright beneficial.
Research shows that avocados offer many ways to help people manage their diabetes and improve their overall well-being.
Diet and diabetes
A healthy diet is critical for people with diabetes. The foods that they eat each day can have a considerable impact on how they feel and how well their diabetes is controlled.
In general, people with diabetes should eat foods that help control blood sugar levels and that offer health benefits such lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. This is one of the best ways to keep diabetes under control, avoid complications, and lead the healthiest life possible.
Avocados are an excellent choice for people with diabetes because they offer all these benefits – and possibly more.
How do avocados affect blood sugar levels?
Avocados are lower in carbohydrates than many other fruits.
Blood sugar control is critical for people who have diabetes. A physician or dietitian may advise patients to choose foods that are lower in carbohydrates and sugar. They may also recommend foods that help control blood sugar spikes. An avocado meets both of these requirements.
A 1-ounce serving, or about one-fifth of an avocado, contains only 3 grams of carbohydrates and less than 1 gram of sugar.
With so few carbohydrates, people with diabetes likely won’t need to worry about an avocado raising their blood sugar levels.
Pairing an avocado with other foods may help reduce blood sugar spikes too. Its fat and fiber content takes longer to digest and slows the absorption of other carbohydrates in the process.
Daily limit of avocado
Before people make any significant changes to their diet, they should talk with their physician or dietitian. One of the things to consider is total calorie intake.
A whole avocado contains 250-300 calories, but a 1-ounce serving has only 50. People who are watching their calories in order to maintain or lose weight can still add avocado to their diet. This can be done by switching a serving of avocado for something else with a similar amount of calories like cheese or mayonnaise.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) say people should pay attention to the type of fat they’re eating more than the amount.
Specifically, people should strictly limit the unhealthy fats. This includes saturated fats and trans fats, often found in fatty meats, fried foods, processed and restaurant foods.
The ADA encourage people with diabetes to consider adding avocado into their diets due to its healthy fats.
Avocados and heart health
Avocados have fat and are calorie-dense, but this is not a reason for people with diabetes to avoid them.
Avocados could help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke in people with diabetes.
The fats in avocados are mostly monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), which have been shown to raise “good” HDL cholesterol. MUFAs can also lower levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and fats called triglycerides, and reduce blood pressure.
Having healthy cholesterol, triglyceride, and blood pressure levels can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).
People with diabetes are twice as likely to have heart disease and stroke as someone without diabetes, according to the NIDDK. More importantly, heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death among people with diabetes.
There may be an additional reason that MUFAs are a ticket to better health when living with diabetes. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition suggests that these fats may help control blood sugar and insulin levels.
The researchers found this was particularly the case when replacing some carbohydrates in the diet with MUFAs. So besides being naturally low in sugar and carbohydrates, an avocado’s healthy fats can help lower blood sugar levels even more.
Fiber, blood sugar levels, and feeling full
A medium avocado has an impressive 10 grams of fiber. For reference, men should get 30-38 grams of fiber per day, and women need 21-25 grams, according to the Academy of Nutrition of Dietetics.
Fiber is an important part of a healthy diet because it improves digestive health and keeps the bowels regular. It’s particularly helpful for people with diabetes because it helps improve blood sugar levels.
Soluble fiber, which is present in avocados, may also improve cholesterol levels, according to a study in the American Journal for Clinical Nutrition. This is another way this fruit may help reduce the risk of heart disease.
Avocados may also help people feel fuller for longer. This can help people control their calorie intake without feeling hungry. A study in the Nutrition Journal found that eating half of an avocado with lunch increased levels of feeling full up to 5 hours later.
Choosing and using avocados
Avocados offer a buttery yet versatile flavor that can be added to a variety of salads, sandwiches, and sweet and savory dishes.
Ripe avocado is easy to add to a wide range of different healthy meals.
Although avocados require no cooking, it is best to eat one when it’s ripe. A ripe avocado will be dark in color and will feel slightly soft when squeezed gently.
If an avocado is firm and green in color, it should be left to ripen for a few days. Avocados ripen off the tree, and many found at the store need some time to reach their ideal ripeness.
The following is another way of telling if an avocado is ripe or not:
- Try to remove the avocado’s stem
- If it doesn’t come off easily, it’s not yet ripe
- If it removes easily and the skin underneath is green, the avocado is ripe
- If it removes easily and the skin underneath is brown, the avocado may be overripe. It may have brown spots inside or a texture that’s too soft
Spread 1 to 2 teaspoons of avocado on whole grain toast instead of butter. Adding a dash of black pepper and garlic, a tomato slice, or some fresh salsa can give it extra flavor. Combine it with favorite vegetables and seasonings.
Another option is a baked avocado egg. Slice the avocado in half and remove the pit. Crack an egg, place it in the avocado half, and bake for 15-20 minutes at 425°F. Top with diced tomatoes, salsa, peppers, or other vegetables.
Slices of avocado make a great addition to nearly any salad. They also work well as a topping for vegetable or chicken wraps and turkey burgers. Avocado can also be used in a sandwich in place of mayonnaise or butter.
Adding a mashed up avocado to store-bought hummus gives a boost of fiber and healthy fats. Skip the chips and instead, dip fresh, crunchy vegetables like carrots and celery sticks.
Avocados naturally pair well with fish tacos, enchiladas, or other Mexican dishes. They can also be used as a topping on chili in place of sour cream. Sprinkle diced avocado on a whole-grain pizza and cut back on the cheese.
Avocados may be a healthy boost to a diabetes meal plan. People with diabetes should talk with their doctor or dietitian about their dietary needs, and consider giving avocado a try at their next meal.
Avocado Seed Husk May Help To Treat Heart Disease, Cancer
Researchers have identified a wealth of therapeutic compounds in the husk of avocado seeds.
Researchers found that avocado seed husks contain a variety of chemical compounds that could help to kill viruses, combat heart problems, and even treat cancer.
Study co-author Debasish Bandyopadhyay, Ph.D., of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg, and colleagues recently reported their findings at the 254th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, held in Washington, D.C.
Avocados are fast becoming one of the United States’ favorite fruits. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, avocado consumption in the country has more than doubled over the past decade, and we are now eating almost four times as many avocados than we were in the mid-1990s.
The benefits of avocado
Given the many health benefits associated with avocado intake, it is no wonder the fruit has seen a rise in popularity.
A study reported by Medical News Today in 2015, for example, associated avocado intake with lower levels of “bad” cholesterol in people who are overweight or obese, while other research has linked avocado consumption with reduced risk of metabolic syndrome.
Of course, such benefits are based on the consumption of avocado flesh, since the skin and seed of the fruit are usually discarded. The new study, however, suggests that when we throw away the latter, we may be discarding the most valuable component.
Dr. Bandyopadhyay and colleagues came to their findings by grounding down around 300 dried avocado seed husks, which is the skin that coats the seeds.
The grounding process resulted in 21 ounces of avocado seed husk powder. Further processing of the powder resulted in three teaspoons of seed husk oil and just over one teaspoon of seed husk wax.
The team then used chromatography-mass spectrometry analysis to pinpoint the chemical compounds present in the seed husk oil and wax.
Avocado seed husk: The ‘gem of gems’?
In total, the researchers identified 116 compounds in the avocado seed husk oil, many of which could be beneficial to human health, and many of which could not be found in the avocado seed itself.
Some compounds of particular interest in the seed husk oil were behenyl alcohol, dodecanoic acid, and heptacosane. Behenyl alcohol is used in antiviral medication, dodecanoic acid is known to boost “good” cholesterol, and heptacosane has shown promise for killing tumors.
Additionally, the team identified compounds in avocado seed husk wax that are used as food additives – such as butylated hydroxytoluene – and in cosmetic products, including bis(2-butoxyethyl) phthalate.
Eight Benefits Of Avocado oil For The Skin
By Lana Barhum
In this article, we explore the benefits of avocado oil for the skin and describe the best ways to apply it.
Eight benefits for the skin
Avocado oil is rich in fatty acids and is excellent for moisturizing the skin.
1. Moisturizes and nourishes
In addition to vitamin E, avocado oil contains potassium, lecithin, and many other nutrients that can nourish and moisturize the skin.
The outermost layer of skin, known as the epidermis, easily absorbs these nutrients, which also help to form new skin.
2. Relieves inflammation from psoriasis and eczema
A person with a skin condition may wish to test a patch of skin first, to ensure that the oil does not trigger or aggravate their symptoms.
3. Prevents and treats acne
When left on for short periods of time and rinsed off with warm water, avocado oil can keep skin hydrated without leaving an oily residue. This may reduce the risk of acne.
4. Accelerates wound healing
Avocado oil may help wounds to heal more quickly. One 2013 study found that the essential fatty acids and oleic acid in avocado oil can promote collagen synthesis, which is the process of creating new connective tissue.
The essential fatty acids in avocado oil were also found to help reduce inflammation during the healing process.
More studies are needed in humans, however, to determine whether avocado oil can be used to treat wounds.
5. Treats sunburned skin
The antioxidants in avocado oil may help to ease the symptoms of a sunburn. According to a 2011 review, the vitamin E, beta carotene, vitamin D, protein, lecithin, and essential fatty acids in the oil can support healing and soothe the skin.
Other small studies have shown that consuming avocados may help to protect the skin from harmful UV radiation.
6. Reduces signs of aging
The first signs of aging usually appear on the skin. Some studies have shown that consuming healthful fats, such as those found in avocados, can help the skin to retain its elasticity.
However, researchers have yet to address whether applying avocado oil to the skin has the same effect.
7. Improves nail health
While some people use avocado oil to heal dry, brittle nails, little scientific evidence confirms this benefit.
However, using natural oils to keep the nails and surrounding skin soft may help to reduce breakage.
8. Improves scalp health
Applying avocado oil to the scalp as a hot oil mask can help to reduce dandruff and other problems caused by a dry, flaky scalp.
How to use
The inside of an avocado peel can be used for moisturizing the face.
Avocado oil can be massaged into the skin, used in a face mask, or added to lotions, creams, shower gels, or bath oils. It can be used on skin daily without adverse effects.
As a facial moisturizer
To use avocado as a facial moisturizer, a person can take the inside of an avocado peel and massage it onto their face. Leave the residue on for about 15 minutes, then rinse the face with warm water.
Bottled avocado oil can also be used to moisture the face at night. Wash it off the following morning.
In the bath
Adding a few tablespoons of avocado oil to a bath can leave the whole body feeling soft and help to prevent hot water from drying out the skin.
It can also be mixed with a person’s favorite bath oil, such as lavender or aloe vera.
As a moisturizer
Combine avocado oil with other essential oils and massage the mixture into the skin after a bath. Pat the skin dry with a towel before using the oil.
Avocado oil is also effective on its own and can be applied all over the body to keep skin soft.
For scalp care
A person with a dry scalp may benefit from using avocado oil in a hot oil treatment. To heat the oil, pour 3–5 tablespoons into a small glass jar, and place the jar in a saucepan of recently boiled water.
Test the temperature of the oil frequently, to prevent it from getting too hot. When the oil is warm, remove the jar from the water and gently massage the oil into the scalp.
The oil can be left overnight and shampooed out in the morning. This may help to reduce dandruff and dry, flaky skin on the scalp.
Treating dry, inflamed skin
To heal and soften rough, dry skin, mix equal amounts of avocado and olive oils, and apply the mixture to the skin once or twice a day.
To give the mixture a scent, try one or two drops of an essential oil, such as lavender.
Other health benefits of avocado oil
Research suggests that avocado oil can help to prevent several health issues, including diabetesand high cholesterol. A study from 2014 found avocado oil to have as many healthful benefits as olive oil.
A 2017 study concluded that avocado oil could reduce the oxidative damage that causes kidney damage in people with type 2 diabetes. The result stems from oleic acid, a “healthy” fat, which is the primary component of the oil. More research is needed in humans, however, before this claim can be fully supported.
In addition to fighting kidney damage, oleic acid is known for its ability to lower the risk of developing some cancers, preventing flare-ups of some autoimmune diseases, speeding up cell regeneration to promote healing, aiding in eliminating microbial infections, and reducing inflammation throughout the body.
Avocado oil is highly concentrated and may cause skin reactions.
Side effects of avocado oil are rare, but it is possible to be allergic or avocados or their oil.
The best way to rule out an allergy is to do a patch test. Apply a small amount of avocado oil to a 1-inch patch of skin on the inside of the arm. If no irritation occurs over a 24-hour period, the oil can be safely used on other parts of the skin.
Anyone allergic to avocados should avoid contact with avocado oil.
Organic avocado oil is easy to incorporate into a skincare regimen. It can be purchased online or at many health food stores.
There are few risks to using avocado oil, but anyone with a preexisting skin condition may wish to speak with a doctor before trying a new home remedy.