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The Health Benefits of Eating Avocados

 Smooth, creamy and flavorsome, avocados provide a unique and versatile addition to numerous dishes and healthy snacks. They can liven up a salad or soup, and provide a fantastic dressing for any sandwich. But the avocado's unique taste and interesting texture are not the only features that ensure they stand out from other fruits. They also have unusual nutritional makeup which provides some incredible health benefits that will make you want to add them to your regular diet.

Numerous studies have shown that a diverse range of nutrients present in avocados offer a wide range of powerful health benefits. Here are 10 reasons to add avocados to your weekly diet, all of which have been supported by scientific research.

1. They Contain Loads of Goodness

avocados, health

Avocados are extremely nutritious and contain abundant levels of a whole range of nutrients, including over 20 vitamins and minerals. A single, 100 gram (3.5 oz) serving of avocado will provide you with:

• 26% of your recommended daily levels of vitamin K, which is important for strong bones and heart health.
• 20% of your recommended daily levels of folate, which is important for the formation of blood cells in your bone marrow.
• 17% of your recommended daily levels of vitamin C, which is important for supporting the immune system, heart, eyes, and skin.
• 14% of your recommended daily levels of vitamin B5, which is important for allergy avoidance among other benefits.
• 13% of your recommended daily levels of vitamin B6, which helps various systems in the body, including the circulatory, digestive, immune, nervous and muscular systems.
• 10% of your recommended daily levels of vitamin E, which encourages healthy skin and eyes.

In addition to these, it also contains smaller amounts of magnesium, manganese, iron, zinc, vitamin A, and phosphorus. Avocados really are a hotbed of essential nutrients!

2. They Provide Friendly Fats

avocados, health
Avocados are one of the fattiest plants on the planet, but while the word 'fat' has negative connotations, not all fat is bad for you. In fact, the body needs a certain amount of 'friendly' fat to function properly. Avocados are high in polyunsaturated fats, which have been shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels and lower the risk of heart disease. Avocados are also rich in Oleic Acid, a fatty acid that is credited with providing many of the health benefits of olive oil.

3. They Help Maintain Your Vision

avocados, health
Avocados are high in anti-oxidants including two nutrients called lutein and zeaxanthin, which are essential for good eye health. Studies have shown that these ingredients significantly reduce the risk of cataracts. They have also been shown to help protect you from macular degeneration, the most common cause of vision reduction or loss among people over the age of 65.

4. They Can Reduce the Risk of Heart Problems

avocados, health
Heart disease is the most common cause of death in the West, and there are a number of triggers that can cause it to develop. Increased levels of cholesterol and triglycerides are high on the list of common causes, and the consumption of avocados has been shown to help control levels of both. One study tested two groups of people, one group that had been instructed to eat avocados, and one group that was not. Results showed that those who ate avocados reduced blood triglycerides by up to 20% and lowered harmful cholesterol by as much as 22%. 

5. They Are Great Anti-Inflammatories

avocados, health
The omega-9 fatty acids found in avocados are anti-inflammatory, which can help balance out the negative, inflammatory effects of the unsaturated fats found in various processed foods and dairy products. They also contain high levels of nutrients called phytosterols, which also have powerful anti-inflammatory properties, and are highly recommended for people who suffer from arthritis and osteoporosis. If that wasn't enough, the phytosterols combine with oleic acid to provide proven protection against UV damage and inflammation of the skin cells. Avocados can, therefore, be considered something of an anti-inflammatory super-food!

6. They Can Help Digestion

avocados, health
Another nutrient avocados contain in abundance is fiber, which is associated with weight loss, blood sugar regulation and better digestion. Avocados contain an unusually high amount of fiber, with each 100 gram (3.5 oz) serving containing around 7 grams of fiber, which is 27% of the recommended daily amount.  A high fiber diet can help food pass through the digestive system more easily, maintaining the health of your colon, while reducing feelings of bloatedness.

7. They Are A Great Source of Potassium

avocados, health
Potassium takes an essential role in the generation of the electrical pulses that keep your heart beating, and also helps keep your muscles moving and your nerves working. Studies have shown that potassium deficiencies can be linked to heart problems, kidney disease and increase the risk of a stroke. Bananas are often held up as one of the best sources of potassium, but guess what? Avocados contain more potassium per 100 gram (3.5 oz) - providing 14% of your recommended daily amount, compared to the 10% offered by bananas.

8. They Help You Absorb Nutrients from other Foods

avocados, health
When you eat healthy foods, it is important to ensure that your body absorbs as much of the goodness as possible, and this absorption process sometimes needs some help. Many key nutrients actually need to combine with fat to be utilized successfully, including vitamins A, D, E and K, and the hugely beneficial antioxidant carotenoid. Carotenoids are found in leafy greens, carrots, and sweet potatoes, all vegetables which contain very little fat. Studies have shown that if you add an avocado when you eat these foods, carotenoid uptake can increase up to 15 times over.

9. They May Help Prevent Cancer

avocados, health
Although research is in its infancy, there is some evidence that avocado consumption can be beneficial in preventing certain types of cancer. A 2007 study published in the journal Seminars in Cancer Biology found that phytochemicals contained within avocados could encourage cancer cells to stop growing. Other research has suggested a link between avocados and reduced risk of mouth, skin and prostate cancer. The potentially powerful benefits of avocados in this regard are linked to their unique mix of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

10. They Can Help Regulate Blood Sugar Levels

avocados, health
Because they are low in carbohydrates and sugars when compared to other fruits, avocados can help maintain blood sugar levels. Their high fiber content is also important in this regard. A large portion of any fiber-rich food eaten will pass through the digestive system intact, and this means they are less likely to cause a spike in blood sugar levels. People who have type 2 diabetes are often told to include plenty of fiber in their diet, and avocados are a great source.
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