Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Posted by Mansi
A toasted Veggie Delight at Subway is part of my staple diet, and most of the times I get tempted to add some avocado onto it, but I hold myself back thinking its a very high-calorie food! But some time back, I was engaged in a pleasantly surprising discussion about the health benefits of avocado with a colleague at work which set me thinking that perhaps there's more good than bad in this under-rated fruit. So I set out to find a few "facts" rather than just thoughts & myths about Avocados, and here's what I found about their health benefits(img credit: wikimedia commons)
Avocado is known as "avocado pear" or "alligator pear" and traditionally comes from Mexico, but is now a very popular fruit consumed in several countries, including US. The Haas Avocados in California are especially famous, and though most people enjoy eating them in a delicious Gaucamole or as a spread on their sandwiches, few of them really know how beneficial Avocados really are! Here's a short compilation that will help you understand what makes this fruit so special.
Avocado is one of the most recommended fruits as well as a food for bodybuilding and medicine for cholesterol-related heart disease.
Its rich nutrient contents such as vitamin K, dietary fiber, potassium, folic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin C, copper make it a strong contender for world's healthiest fruit.
Avocado is a good source of potassium, a mineral that helps regulate blood pressure. Adequate intake of potassium can help guard against circulatory diseases, like high blood pressure, heart disease or stroke.
It has been traditionally used to treat osteo-arthritis, and its oils have been used topically to treat wounds, infections, arthritis, and to stimulate hair growth.
It is a rich source of monounsaturated fatty acids including "oleic acid", which has recently been shown to offer significant protection against breast cancer; however, avocado is also a very concentrated dietary source of the "carotenoid lutein"; it also contains measurable amounts of related carotenoids plus significant quantities of vitamin E.
It is a recommended produce that acts as an anti-oxidant, and has a improved ratio of good vs bad cholesterol. it is also low in sodium and improves our body's ability to absorb carotenoids.
The Monounsaturated fat contained in Avocados speeds up the metabolic rate when comparing it to saturated fats, and the high fat content leaves you feeling full, which helps reduce overeating, thereby complementing weight-loss plans!
Last, but not the least, it has a rich and creamy texture that can be easily used to replace high-calorie foods like mayonnaise, cheese and ketchup!
Avocados are pretty high in calories. In fact, one medium-sized avocado contains a little more than 300 calories, most of them coming from Fats (77% Fat, 19% Carbs, 4% Proteins). However, it is mostly mono-saturated fats, which means the "good fat"; so its just the calories that you need to worry about!
It is believed that toxic chemical called persin, which can destroy breast tissue and may damage the heart, is found in the leaves, bark, pits and skin of the avocado tree. Ingesting avocado bark, leaves, roots, or any part of the avocado other than its fruits is strongly discouraged (source)
Individuals who are allergic to latex or to other tropical fruits, such as bananas or kiwi, may also be allergic to avocado. Large doses of avocado or avocado oil may have mild laxative effects
Avocado may decrease the effects of blood-thinning drugs such as warfarin and aspirin, as the oil in it may interfere with the absorption of drugs or some nutrients from food. So one should avoid eating these when using similar prescribed drugs.
I'm not a food specialist, nor a nutritionist, and my findings are based on the power of the web that we all tend to rely on. However, from what I could find, it looks like the Good outweighs the Bad by far. Majority of nutritionists agree that "Avocados add great variety to a well balanced, low-fat diet, but you have to eat them in moderation." Overall, avocado is considered a complete food, with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, calories and fiber, no cholesterol and no sodium.
There's always pros & cons for anything, and so is the case for Avocados. However, it is safe to consider that it has way more health benefits than people have come to believe in, so try to incorporate these fruits as part of your balanced diet, and your body will thank you for it!
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This Post was written by Mansi Desai from Fun and Food