The avocado isn’t just the delicious base of a fantastic bowl of guacamole. This little green wonder fruit is also incredibly healthy, and can fulfill several nutritional needs all at once. But before delving into the myriad health benefits of the avocado, here’s a little history of this fruit. The oldest evidence of people eating avocados is from Coxcatlán, Puebla, Mexico from 10,000 BC. Avocados are colloquially known as the Alligator Pear, reflecting its shape and leather-like outward appearance. They are grown on the Persea americana tree and they weigh anywhere from eight ounces to three pounds, depending on the type.
Popular in America, the avocado’s health benefits are so incredible that maybe the old expression about “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” should be updated with “avocado” replacing “apple.” In fact, research has shown that when avocados are introduced to a simple salad, the absorption of lycopene and beta-carotene from the other vegetables increases between 200-400%. Avocado oil added to the dressing will achieve the same result.
One large benefit of increasing avocado intake is the reduction of cholesterol levels. Avocados are loaded with beta-sitosterol which lowers blood cholesterol levels. According to a recent study, patients with mild hypercholesterolemia who added avocados to their diet for one week saw a seventeen percent decrease of blood cholesterol levels, a twenty-two percent decrease in LDL (bad cholesterol) and triglyceride and an eleven percent rise of HDL (good cholesterol) levels. Avocados also contain vitamin B6, E, and glutathione which in turn can help regulate homocysteine levels which can help prevent heart disease.
The American Heart Association has dietary guidelines that recommend a diet that has – at minimum – five servings of fruit and vegetables and/or 30% percent of calories from unsaturated fats. They also suggest potassium-rich fruits. Avocados meet all of those guidelines, and they are easy to incorporate into a diet. Even just a few slices on a salad or sandwich can help to fight heart disease.