The avocado is an unusual fruit. Not only is it high in calories, but it is rich in fat too. Instinct suggests that a high-calorie and high-fat food would be bad for health, yet the humble avocado actually provides a host of wonderful health benefits.
There are dozens of varieties of avocados, split into three main categories—West Indian, Mexican and Guatemalan. Green and luscious, the flesh of the avocado is hard when it is harvested. As the fruit ripens, the flesh softens and its texture becomes butter-like. The Aztecs thought of avocados as an aphrodisiac, while Amazonian herbalists believe that they can treat gout.
Avocados could help lower cholesterol levels. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
1. A good source of nutrients
- Protein—highest among fruits; about 2 g per 100 g (3.5 oz)
- Fiber—about 6.7 g per 100 g; highest soluble fiber content of any fruit
- Monounsaturated fatty acids—about 14.7 g of fats per 100 g, with two-thirds being healthful monounsaturated fats; unsaturated fatty acid content ranks only behind olives among fruits
- Carbohydrates—about 8.5 g per 100 g, or more than 300 calories per avocado
- B vitamins
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Potassium—about 500 mg per 100 g; one avocado matches two to three bananas
- Zinc—regulates immune function, contributes to wound healing, senses of smell and taste
- Folate—important for pregnant women, preventing dangerous spinal and brain birth defects; helps maintain proper nerve function
- Lutein—helps prevent prostate cancer; prevents cataracts and age-related macular degeneration
- Glutathione—potent antioxidant with anticancer properties
- Oleic acid
- Linoleic acid
2. Lowers cholesterol
Avocados, in particular its oleic acid content, may help lower cholesterol levels. One particular study that looked at persons with moderately high levels of cholesterol who consumed many avocados in their diet revealed significant reductions in total cholesterol and "bad" LDL cholesterol levels as well as an 11 percent increase in the "good" HDL cholesterol. Other research also showed the slight lowering of triglyceride levels.
Another way in which avocados help lower cholesterol levels is through the fiber they contain, which removes excess cholesterol from the body.
3. Boosts cardiovascular health
The high-potassium content in avocados helps lower high blood pressure, plus reduces one's risk of suffering from strokes and heart attacks.
Some research has also suggested that oleic acid could help reduce bodily inflammation, thus lowering the probability of atherosclerosis developing.
Further, folate could help lower heart disease risk by decreasing bodily levels of homocysteine, an amino acid which could damage blood vessels at elevated levels.
Vitamin E is also a heart-healthy vitamin, while lutein helps protect against hardening of the arteries.
4. Helps control diabetes
According to Abhimanyu Garg, MD, "monounsaturated fats improve fat levels in the body and help control diabetes." Researchers have found that diabetics who consumed a lot of carbohydrates tended to develop high levels of triglycerides, blood fats which could elevate heart disease risk. However, when some of these carbohydrates were replaced with fats, in particular the type found in avocados, triglyceride levels tended to go down.
5. Improves bone health
Avocado is a relatively good plant-based source of vitamin D, which helps the body turn calcium into bones.
Phosphorus in avocados is also an important part of the bones and teeth.
6. Relieves skin conditions
Avocado oil can be used topically to treat some types of dermatitis plus dry skin and wrinkles. Long-term use can help relieve eczema too. It can be applied directly to the affected areas.
Mashed avocados or its inner peel (retaining some green flesh) can also be rubbed on psoriasis patches to obtain relief.
At first glance, you wouldn't think avocados and almonds could harm bees; but a closer look at how these popular crops are produced reveals their potentially detrimental effect on pollinators.
Migratory beekeeping involves trucking millions of bees across the U.S. to pollinate different crops, including avocados and almonds. Timothy Paule II / Pexels / CC0<p>According to <a href="https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/beekeeping-how-to-keep-bees" target="_blank">From the Grapevine</a>, American avocados also fully depend on bees' pollination to produce fruit, so farmers have turned to migratory beekeeping as well to fill the void left by wild populations.</p><p>U.S. farmers have become reliant upon the practice, but migratory beekeeping has been called exploitative and harmful to bees. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/10/health/avocado-almond-vegan-partner/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a> reported that commercial beekeeping may injure or kill bees and that transporting them to pollinate crops appears to negatively affect their health and lifespan. Because the honeybees are forced to gather pollen and nectar from a single, monoculture crop — the one they've been brought in to pollinate — they are deprived of their normal diet, which is more diverse and nourishing as it's comprised of a variety of pollens and nectars, Scientific American reported.</p><p>Scientific American added how getting shuttled from crop to crop and field to field across the country boomerangs the bees between feast and famine, especially once the blooms they were brought in to fertilize end.</p><p>Plus, the artificial mass influx of bees guarantees spreading viruses, mites and fungi between the insects as they collide in midair and crawl over each other in their hives, Scientific American reported. According to CNN, some researchers argue that this explains why so many bees die each winter, and even why entire hives suddenly die off in a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder.</p>
Avocado and almond crops depend on bees for proper pollination. FRANK MERIÑO / Pexels / CC0<p>Salazar and other Columbian beekeepers described "scooping up piles of dead bees" year after year since the avocado and citrus booms began, according to Phys.org. Many have opted to salvage what partial colonies survive and move away from agricultural areas.</p><p>The future of pollinators and the crops they help create is uncertain. According to the United Nations, nearly half of insect pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, risk global extinction, Phys.org reported. Their decline already has cascading consequences for the economy and beyond. Roughly 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops around the world depend on bees and other pollinators for free fertilization services worth billions of dollars, Phys.org noted. Losing wild and native bees could <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wild-bees-crop-shortage-2646849232.html" target="_self">trigger food security issues</a>.</p><p>Salazar, the beekeeper, warned Phys.org, "The bee is a bioindicator. If bees are dying, what other insects beneficial to the environment... are dying?"</p>
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