Think this mean, green fruit is simply a go-to ingredient for your guacamole and salads? Think again. Avocados—one of nature’s most nutritious produce—are considered a superfood. And so is avocado oil.
This potent fruit (although most erroneously believe—due to its color and savory taste—it’s a veggie!) holds generous amounts of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients with fairly few calories in every serving. Half of a small avocado provides 130 calories and approximately 20 vitamins and minerals.1
According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, avocados are loaded with:2
|Vitamin B-6||Vitamin A, RAE|
|Vitamin A, IU||Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)|
|Vitamin K (phylloquinone)||Saturated Fats|
|Monounsaturated Fats||Polyunsaturated Fats (Omega-3)|
|Alpha & Beta-Carotene||Lutein|
Why This Fat is Fab
Do you shy away from avocados due to their high-fat content? The fats in an avocado, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, are healthy, beneficial fats. So, it’s time to embrace this green giant of nutrition.
According to Harvard Health Publications, healthy fats are a good source of energy. They help you in absorbing vitamins and minerals. Healthy fats play a key role in maintaining strong cell membranes (vital exterior or ‘skin’ of the body’s cells). They also can help in preventing blood clotting and inflammation. The fats that you should eliminate from your diet are the unhealthy ones such as man-made trans fats—basically look for the term “partially hydrogenated oils” on a product’s ingredient list. These engineered fats, found mostly in processed foods, are associated with heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses.3
The Aztecs Loved Their Avocados
Avocado (Persea americana), which originated in south central Mexico, belongs to the Lauraceae family. Around 5000 B.C., the Aztecs were the first people to domesticate avocado. They called it ahuacatl. The first archaeological evidence of human consumption of avocado—dating back to 10,000 B.C.5—comes from the Coxcatlán Cave in Mexico’s state of Puebla.
During Spanish conquest, Spanish explorers observed the fruit’s prized status to the Aztecs. Spaniards then introduced it to the English. Ahuacatl’s English term, avocado, is credited to the naturalist Sir Henry Sloane, who coined it in 1669.6
In 1833, avocados were planted in Florida by horticulturist Henry Perrine. In 1848, they were introduced in California. And in the 1890s, avocado plantings were documented in Santa Barbara and Los Angeles. But until the early 1900s, avocados didn’t become a commercial crop except in Florida, California, and Hawaii. In the 1950s, the avocado became well-known, and consumption increased. And presently, with the popularity of Mexican cuisine and its superfood status—avocados are more popular than ever. The Hass variety is the most widespread, making up about 95% of U.S. avocado consumption.
Avocado’s Awesome Attributes
Obsession and consumption of avocados have skyrocketed. You can see it in everyone’s salad, dips, sandwich, toast, etc. It is even dominating in social media, specifically Instagram—California avocado commission has their own account! So, why are people got hooked on avocados? Because of its nutritional value. Also, it’s an amazing substitute for butter in baked goods—especially those vegan baked goods. Did you know a quarter-cup of avocados has roughly 300 less calories than butter?
Here are some of the awesome attributes of avocados:
Balancing Cholesterol Level
A study conducted on individuals with hypercholesterolemia showed that an avocado-rich diet had improved their levels of cholesterol by decreasing triglycerides and LDL (bad cholesterol) while increasing HDL (good cholesterol) levels. As we all know, healthy cholesterol level is good for the heart.7
Avocado has less sugar content compared to other fruits. Half of an avocado has only 0.2 grams of sugar. According to research, avocado can help with weight management and the control of blood sugar levels. An avocado’s load and glycemic index are estimated to be at zero.8
Fighting DNA Damage
According to a number of studies, xanthophylls, which are present in avocados, have antioxidants and DNA defensive properties with potential healthy aging protective effects.
Reducing Risks of Cancer
An avocado’s numerous bioactive phytochemicals, such as glutathione, carotenoids, phenols, persenone A and B, and D-mannoheptulose have anti-carcinogenic properties. These phytochemicals may be potentially effective in reducing risks of cancer.9
Improving Diet Quality
Avocado is loaded with essential nutrients, phytochemicals, monounsaturated fatty acids and dietary fiber, which are believed to improve nutrients intake, reducing body weight, waist circumference, and BMI, lowering risk of metabolic syndrome, and increasing levels of HDL-cholesterol. These results imply that avocados greatly help in improving dietary quality and may lower the risk for metabolic syndrome in the U.S.10
Maintaining Healthy Vision
Lutein and zeaxanthin, also in found in avocado, are phytochemicals particularly found in the eye tissues. These phytochemicals provide antioxidant protection against damage such as damage from UV light.11
A half of an avocado has roughly 25% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin K, a nutrient that is vital for maintaining healthy bones. Consumption of foods high in vitamin K helps with bone health by improving absorption of calcium and decreasing urinary excretion of calcium.12
According to a study, folate plays a huge role in healthy pregnancy. It helps lower the chances of miscarriage and neural tube defects. In fact, folate deficiency has been linked with abnormalities in both fetus (congenital abnormalities) and mother (peripheral neuropathy, anemia).13
Lowering Risk of Depression
Foods with high-folate content may help lower the risks of depression as folate prevents homocysteine. This substance can impede circulation and getting nutrients to the brain. High levels of homocysteine can also affect serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine production, which help in regulating appetite, mood, and sleep.14
Avocado mostly has monounsaturated fat, and it is mostly made of oleic acid. Oleic acid is a fatty acid shown to decrease particular biomarkers of inflammation. Center for Human Nutrition researchers from UCLA have discovered that adding Hass avocado to hamburger meat can help lower the effects of inflammation of the food.15
Lowering the Side Effects of Anticancer Drugs
A study also found that phytochemicals extracted with 50% methanol from avocado help prevent the reproduction of human lymphocyte cells and lower chromosomal abnormalities stimulated by cyclophosphamide, a cancer-fighting drug.16
Avocado Oil: Skin & Hair Boosts
Did you know that, apart from its superb effects on the body, this nutrient-dense fruit boasts beauty perks—as avocado oil—too? Yes, avocado oil, which is derived from—not the seeds as with most oils—but the fleshy pulp surrounding the pit, can play a key role in promoting healthy skin and hair.
Slows Aging Process
This is an amazing property of avocado that many aren’t aware of. But lots of studies reveal avocado oil has high anti-aging properties that are capable of providing protection against free radicals. A cross-section examination studied the link between diet and anti-aging among 716 Japanese women. After monitoring their BMI, lifetime sun exposure, age, and smoking status, results indicate that high intake of total dietary fat is linked with more skin elasticity. Consumption of green and yellow vegetables was significantly connected to fewer wrinkles.17
Another study on avocado’s properties has shown that it reverses degenerative skin changes seen with aging by stimulating the production of elastin fibers and collagen, thus restoring normal regenerative/degenerative balance.18
UV Damage Protection
Signs of aging often appear on the face first as it is regularly exposed to constant oxidative and inflammatory damage by UV exposure and carotenoids in avocado can help combat such damage. A clinical study found that avocado’s exceedingly bioavailable lutein and zeaxanthin might help to protect the skin from UV and visible radiation damage.19
Collagen is important in making sure your skin is firm, invigorated and smooth. If avocado oil is applied to the skin topically, the oil will trigger the skin to produce collagen and protect from wrinkles, according to a recent study.20
Avocado oil is capable of penetrating deep into the skin, making skin soft and hydrated. One of the extraordinary properties of avocado oil it acts as a powerful humectant (a substance that absorbs or helps retain moisture, like glycerin).
At present, there are lots of effective topical therapies available for treating chronic psoriasis. One of them is avocado oil. The results of a clinical trial proved that vitamin B12 cream containing avocado oil could be used as a well-tolerated, long-term topical treatment of psoriasis.21
Avocado’s healthy fats, omega-3, and Biotin (Vitamin B) can provide you with shiny hair. Healthy avocado oil moisturizes and softens dry and brittle hair while Vitamin E provides a natural shine to your tresses.22
What Type of Avocado Oil is Best?
There are two types of avocado oil:
- Pure—extracted naturally
- Inorganic oil—processed by solvents or chemical methods
Pure oil, which is the oil from the first press, is considered the healthiest—in both cosmetics and cooking. Look for avocado oils labeled as ‘cold-pressed’. Like other specialty oils, it will be more expensive than regular vegetable oil. And hot tip: refrigerate it to prolong its nutty flavor and nutrients. (Bring it to room temperature before using.)
Awesome Avocado Beauty-Boosting Recipes:
- Fresh-Face Watermelon-Avocado Mask
- DYI Avocado & Egg Hair Repair Mask
- Omega-3 Packed Smoothie (Swedish Model Beauty Secret)
2Show Foods. Ndbnalusdagov. 2016. Accessed September 9, 2016.
3 Publications H. The truth about fats: the good, the bad, and the in-between – Harvard Health. Harvard Health. 2016. Accessed September 9, 2016.
4History: what’s in a name?. Ucavoucredu. 2016. Accessed September 9, 2016.
5Avocados: Ripe in Aztec History. Indian Country Today Media Networkcom. 2016. Accessed September 9, 2016.
6History: what’s in a name?. Ucavoucredu. 2016. Accessed September 9, 2016.
7Dreher MDavenport A. Hass Avocado Composition and Potential Health Effects. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 2013;53(7):738-750. doi:10.1080/10408398.2011.556759.
8Dreher MDavenport A. Hass Avocado Composition and Potential Health Effects. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 2013;53(7):738-750. doi:10.1080/10408398.2011.556759.
9Dreher MDavenport A. Hass Avocado Composition and Potential Health Effects. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 2013;53(7):738-750. doi:10.1080/10408398.2011.556759.
10Fulgoni V, Dreher M, Davenport A. Avocado consumption is associated with better diet quality and nutrient intake, and lower metabolic syndrome risk in US adults: results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001–2008. Nutrition Journal. 2013;12(1). doi:10.1186/1475-2891-12-1.
11Unlu NZ e. Carotenoid absorption from salad and salsa by humans is enhanced by the addition of avocado or avocado oil. – PubMed – NCBI. Ncbinlmnihgov. 2016. Accessed September 9, 2016.
12Bone Health: Looking Beyond Calcium | Nutrition411. Nutrition411com. 2016. Accessed September 9, 2016.
13 James A Greenberg Y. Folic Acid Supplementation and Pregnancy: More Than Just Neural Tube Defect Prevention. Reviews in Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2011;4(2):52. Accessed September 9, 2016.
14Depression and Diet | Nutrition411. Nutrition411com. 2016. Accessed September 9, 2016.
15Are Avocados Anti-Inflammatory / A Good Source of Omega-3?. Healwithfoodorg. 2016. Accessed September 9, 2016.
16Rajkumar P, Kulkarni P, Ganesh N. ournal of Experimental Therapeutics and Oncology. 2011;9:221-230.
17Dreher MDavenport A. Hass Avocado Composition and Potential Health Effects. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 2013;53(7):738-750. doi:10.1080/10408398.2011.556759.
18Danhof I. Potential reversal of chronological and photo-aging of the skin by topical application of natural substances. Phytother Res. 1993;7(7):S53-S56. doi:10.1002/ptr.2650070716.
19Dreher MDavenport A. Hass Avocado Composition and Potential Health Effects. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 2013;53(7):738-750. doi:10.1080/10408398.2011.556759.
20Henrotin Y, Deberg M, Crielaard J, Piccardi N, Msika P, Sanchez C. Avocado/soybean unsaponifiables prevent the inhibitory effect of osteoarthritic subchondral osteoblasts on aggrecan and type II collagen synthesis by chondrocytes. The Journal of Rheumatology. 2006;33(8):1668-1678. Available at: http://www.jrheum.org/content/33/8/1668.short. Accessed September 9, 2016.
21Stücker M, Memmel U, Hoffmann M, Hartung J, Altmeyer P. Vitamin B<sub>12</sub> Cream Containing Avocado Oil in the Therapy of Plaque Psoriasis. Dermatology. 2001;203(2):141-147. doi:10.1159/000051729.
22Avocado Oil for Hair Growth – How Does it Work?. Good Health Academy. 2015. Accessed September 9, 2016.