If you’ve been out to brunch in the last decade, you may have noticed a loud new addition to the dining staples; Avocado. Slather it on toast, slice it in a sandwich, or slap it on a salad, this strange little fruit has been popping up everywhere. But what’s with the sudden popularity and why hasn’t it tapered off like so many other food trends? And finally, are avocados good for you?
Avoca-Do: Are Avocados Good For You?
The best place to start when determining the health benefits of any food is to look at its nutrients. Avocados pack a nutrient-rich punch with 20 vitamins and minerals that help you stay healthy. Here, you can see there are lots of good reasons to start incorporating avocados in your regular diet. The benefits affect two major parts of your health; system/organ health and nutrition.
Boost Your Immune System Health
In addition to C and B vitamins, avocados fill out a good portion of the vitamin alphabet with vitamins A and E. These vitamins are antioxidants and work to strengthen your immune system. With a healthy immune system, you can reduce the complications of infections, reduce recovery time after surgery, and may even lower your risk of certain cancers.
An Avocado a Day is Heart Healthy
You’ve all heard the phrase “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” however the updated fruit might switch to avocado. Avocados have fewer carbohydrates per serving than apples and can help reduce “bad” cholesterol, giving your cardiologist a break as well.
Avocados and Nutrition
Diabetes and Low Carbohydrate Foods
Since avocados are so high in fat, it doesn’t leave much room left to be high in carbohydrates. Avocados contain roughly 13g of carbohydrates on average. For comparison, an apple contains roughly 20g and a banana 35g. This makes avocados a low carb option, which is good for diabetics looking to keep their blood sugar levels in check.
Avocados Are Good for Digestion
Your digestive system is a complex machine designed to identify, process, and eliminate foods from your body. In order to keep this machine in primed working condition, you need to give it the right tools. In this case, the tools you need are a combination of vitamins and fiber. Avocados have both.
- Vitamin C:
- Your digestive tract contains collagen, which is a protein that strengthens the tissue of your intestines and vitamin C helps maintain healthy collagen and tissue. This reduces your risk of gastric cancer.
- Complex B Vitamins:
- These B Vitamins help your digestive system separate the nutrients in the foods you eat. They help cells metabolize proteins, carbohydrates, and fat into energy your body can use.
- Fiber is vital to keeping your digestive system healthy and is one of the most important food components to incorporate in your diet. Many people are aware that fiber keeps digestive activity regular. However, it also helps keep your cholesterol low, boosts probiotic bacteria, and helps regulate blood sugar in healthy adults.
Avocados and Monounsaturated Fats
We all know there are several kinds of fats and some are better than others. Trans fats and saturated fats are the ones you want to keep out of your diet, while unsaturated fats are considered “good fat.” Monounsaturated fat is one of the good fats that help reduce cholesterol and avocados are packed with it. Up to 80% of the average avocado is monounsaturated fat. It’s this fat density that gives avocados its creamy texture.
Avoca-Don’t: Are Avocados Bad For You?
So, with all these great health benefits, are there downsides to eating avocados? Well, of course, there are. We wouldn’t have much of a controversy without downsides, would we?
High Fiber Content
Though having a diet high in fiber is good, rushing into it can have some seriously unpleasant consequences. If you are looking to get more fiber in your diet, avocados are a good choice but you need to be careful how much you eat. Avocados contain about 10g of fiber and it is recommended that people eat between 25-30g a day. You can see why many people turn to avocados as a good source of fiber since eating two avocados a day would get you well into the healthy range. However, the average American only eats about 15g of fiber a day. That means starting with more fiber than you are used to can cause uncomfortable bloating and cramps. So, if you are eating avocados for fiber, be sure to take it easy at the start.
Not a Low-Calorie or Low-Fat Food
As we mentioned, avocados are about 80% fat. This is extremely fatty for a fruit, regardless of how many nutrients are packed in it. Though you will see many articles advocating the use of avocados for weight loss, this is due to the high fiber content and the tendency for fiber dense foods to fill people up. However, it is not considered low calorie and certainly not low fat. According to the FDA, to be considered “low-calorie” a food must have 40 calories or fewer preserving — and to be low fat it must have 3g of fat or less. If you are looking to eat avocados for weight loss, you will have to keep close track of the amount you are eating and make sure you keep your fat and calorie intake below the recommended amount. There are many other lean fruit options if weight-loss or low-fat dieting is your goal.
Puts Your Liver to Work
With any diet high in fatty foods, you run the risk of developing fatty liver diseases (non-alcoholic). Since many Americans already have a diet that is too high in fat, adding another fatty food — regardless of the nutrients — might put you at higher risk of developing complications. According to research done by the University of California, too much monounsaturated fat could affect your metabolism and when combined with a diet high in starch can put a lot of stress on your liver. This combination is common in the type of high-calorie diets many Americans maintain.
Ripe for a Conclusion
Now that we’ve gone over the pros and cons of avocados, it is easy to see why they have become such a widespread food trend. But what is the verdict?
Well, it really depends on your dietary goals and health. If you are looking for nutrient-dense food to incorporate into your diet, avocados are a great choice. However, if you already have a diet high in fats and starches, you should look for a leaner food product — least you run the risk of health issues related to fatty foods.
As always, consult with your doctor to make sure dietary changes are right for you.
Now that you’ve gotten in the right mindset for healthier living, how about keeping the positivity going? Download our eBook on how to Improve Your Fitness Over 60!
Twin Lakes is a continuing care retirement community in Cincinnati, Ohio, offering villa homes, apartments, rehab services and more. We’re focused on supporting the vibrant and active lifestyles of our residents so they can age well. For more information, contact Twin Lakes online or at 513-247-1300.
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