If you believe yourself to be living a healthy lifestyle but all you do as part of that is exercise, might not have the whole picture. Sure, no one can deny the health benefits of keeping the body moving and developing through exercise, but there’s something to be said for fortifying the bodily machine with the right fuel to keep it running smoothly despite the many things going on in the increasingly-toxic environment of today. This step doesn’t just get the body fed, of course, but instead, it gives the body the ability to protect itself from various problems and illnesses, and even allows the body to take better care of itself.
Nutrition is a truly complex concept, involving plenty of chemical systems that go on to process the nutrients gleaned from various types of food in order to make the body’s various systems run more smoothly. However, while most known benefits lie in allowing the body to protect itself from disease, there’s something to be said as well for how nutrition also lets the body recover more effectively from existing injuries, aches and pains. On the whole, eating right can yield benefits that exercise alone never could, which is part of what makes it an excellent complimentary pursuit.
In light of this, various foods have emerged as newly popular these days as more and more people discover how healthful they are and how insurmountable instrumental they are in helping keep a person healthy. There’s turmeric, whose role as Queen of Spices has never been more secure thanks to how it offers excellent anti-inflammatory, free-radical-fighting benefits. There’s kale, which is good for you in more ways than you’d expect from a green leafy vegetable, and there’s cinnamon, which packs way more than you’d expect for a traditional spice. And then there’s the avocado.
What we know as the avocado is persea americana, a fleshy fruit with green skin and a large pit. This fruit’s mild, creamy flavor and texture make it excellent as an element in various blended drinks and dishes that pair it with stronger flavors, which has cemented its reputation as a mainstay in every guacamole recipe ever (and in a number of fruit shakes, whether by itself or paired with more tart fruits). However, avocado also boasts a strong nutritional reputation, as its high nutrient content and many health benefits are not to be underestimated. Long story short? It’s a delicious fruit that is good for you in a lot of ways, so you really can’t lose by giving it a try.
1. Each serving of avocado (100g) on average contains a multitude of nutrients in great amounts. It gives you 20% of the RDA for folate, 14% of the RDA for Vitamin B5, 13% of the RDA for vitamin B6, 26% of the RDA for vitamin K, 10% of the RSA for vitamin E, 14% of the RDA for potassium, and 17% of the RDA for vitamin C. In smaller amounts it also offers manganese, copper, zinc, magnesium, iron, vitamins A and B1, and phosphorous.
2. Speaking of nutrients? While bananas are traditionally known for being an excellent source of potassium, they face stiff competition in that category – from the avocado. Avocados are a great potassium source, offering 14% of the recommended dietary allowance of the nutrient per 100g serving, which is more than the banana’s 10% per serving. Potassium is a nutrient you want a lot of, too, given how it helps reduce blood pressure and thus steers you away from heart attacks and strokes.
3. When it comes to heart health, one thing you want food to give you other than good levels of potassium is plenty of monounsaturated fatty acids. Avocado has gotten the side-eye for having a high fat content (77% of its calories are fat-based), but this reaction comes from people who don’t really know what it is they’re reacting to – the fat in avocado is healthy fat, with the bulk of it being oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid believed to be behind the healthy effects of also-popular olive oil (which also has plenty of it). Furthermore, the fat seen in the avocado is also able to resist oxidation brought by high heat, making it safe to cook with.
4. In addition to these heart-healthy benefits from the fat in avocados, the fact that avocados contain a good amount of fat helps the body process fat-soluble nutrients in other foods you eat. Some fat-soluble nutrients are vitamins D, K, E, and A, as well as antioxidants such as carotenoids. At least one study shows that incorporating avocados or avocado oil in dishes like salsa can boost the absorption of antioxidants, which is certainly a step you want to take.
5. More heart-healthy benefits: avocado has been found in clinical trials to be helpful in lowering levels of cholesterol and triglyceride in the body, which in the long term can help lower the risk of heart disease. It can help increase the body’s amount of good cholesterol as well, doubling down on how it helps the heart.
6. While not strictly directly heart-benefiting, you still want a good amount of fiber in your diet. Fiber helps with digestion, and as an indigestible plant matter, it can help clear out your digestive tract, helping the body fight spikes in blood sugar and even lose weight if taken as part of a conducive diet. Furthermore, 25% of fiber from avocado is soluble fiber, which helps feed good bacteria in the digestive system.
7. The antioxidants in avocados can also help improve eye health by providing protective nutrition. Lutein and zeaxanthin are known to be important in keeping eyes healthy and vision sharp, and while avocados help antioxidant absorption they offer plenty of antioxidants as well, including these two. Research suggests that these can help drastically reduce the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts.
8. On top of all this, the avocado is also seen to be a good anti-joint pain food. However, this might not be strictly seen in the fruit itself, but in a more concentrated form. Like soybean oil extract, avocado oil extract (unsaponifiable) is seen in recent research to be able to reduce arthritis symptoms.