Health & Nutritional Benefits of Avocados

Dr. Purushothaman
June 10, 2018

Avocados are naturally buttery and are subtly flavored pear-shaped fruit. Its origin is in Central America. Unlike other fruits, they contain high-fat and lots of calories. Moreover, they are famous and have many health benefits and a good nutritional profile.

Facts about Avocado

Botanically, avocado belongs to the Lauraceae family, which also includes members like cinnamon, bay laurel, etc. Its scientific name is Persea Americana. It’s also known by its familiar names such as butter pear, aguacate, alligator pear, etc.

Avocado is an evergreen tree of medium-size, about 20-30 feet in height, with massive, green foliage cover. It requires fertile soil with lots of moisture to blossom. During winter Small light green flowers shoot out. In a few months, many pear-shaped green fruits appear on the tree.

The fruit matures right when it is on the tree. Soon after harvest, you the fruit ripens. The light green skin of the fruit turns into dark green or deep purple color. The ripe avocado has creamy flesh with a buttery texture. Its taste is bland, but has a very pleasant aroma. It has a seed with brown color, which can be found in the center part. Avocado fruit weighs around 300-750 g.

What benefits does avocado have?

  • Like olives, even Avocados, contain high calories and mono-unsaturated fats. However, they provide high dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins, and many health aiding plant nutrients.

  • The creamy pulp of the fruit is an excellent source unsaturated fatty acids as well as Omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid. Studies show that a Mediterranean diet containing high mono-unsaturated fatty acids help in reducing bad cholesterol and increasing HDL. It will prevent you from heart stroke.

  • They are a great source of insoluble and soluble dietary fiber which prevents constipation and reduces blood cholesterol.

  • Avocados have a high concentration of tannin. It is a polyphenolic compound and has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-ulcer properties.

  • The creamy flesh of the fruit has many health-promoting antioxidants. Some the flavanoid polyphenolic antioxidants present in avocado are lutein, beta, cryptoxanthin, zea-xanthin and alpha carotenes. You can also find albeit in small amount in the fruit. All together, they help in protecting the body from oxygen derived free radicals as well as ROS or Reactive oxygen species that act as boosting agents for aging and all kinds of diseases.

  • It contains several vitamins such A, E and its creamy pulp is rich in vitamin K.

  • They are also rich in minerals like copper, iron, manganese, and magnesium. Iron and copper produce red blood cells. Manganese acts as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme. Magnesium is vital for the strengthening of bone and plays a significant role in cardiac protection.

  • Fresh avocado fruit is rich in potassium. It is an essential component of body fluids and cell which helps in regulating blood pressure and heart rate eliminating the harmful effects caused by sodium.

Storage and Selection

Avocados are available in the market throughout the year. If you go to purchase avocados, select a medium-sized, ripe fruit that has a pleasant aroma. Gently press it to check whether it is ready for consumption.

Avoid purchasing hard fruits as they take time to ripen. On the contrary, buying very soft and over-ripe fruit can be flavorless. Avoid fruits that have blemishes, cuts, and bruising.

At home, stored them in a cool place in a fruit basket. Unripe fruits should be wrapped in a paper with a ripe apple or banana to speed up its ripening.

Safety profile

Unripe raw avocados are highly concentrated in tannins. It makes them unappetizing and bitter. Consumption of high levels of tannins may result in the absorption of minerals and vitamins. It may have adverse health effects.

It is a rare incidence that consuming avocados may cause allergy in latex-sensitive persons. The allergic symptoms include generalized itching, breathing difficulty, rashes all over the body, running nose, severe headache, etc. If any of the symptoms arise you should immediately seek the advice of a medical doctor and should not consume this fruit in future.

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