The Great Benefits of Avocados

In an article written by Rachel Grumman Bender featured on Yahoo! Health, she explains the benefits of having avocados in your diet.

Avocados are so much more than just the main ingredient in guacamole. They’re an underrated health food with wide-reaching benefits. In fact, new research published today in the Journal of the American Heart Association shows that consuming an avocado a day may be the key to keeping bad cholesterol at bay.

The researchers found that eating one avocado daily as part of a heart-healthy, moderate-fat diet helps improve “bad” (LDL) cholesterol levels in people who are overweight and obese.

In the study, participants between the ages of 21 and 70 were put on three different cholesterol-lowering diets: a low-fat diet without avocado, a moderate-fat diet without avocado, and a moderate-fat diet that included one avocado per day. After spending five weeks on each diet, study participants who consumed the moderate-fat diet with avocado had lower levels of bad cholesterol. What’s more, the avocado group showed improvements in their total cholesterol and triglyceride levels. By replacing unhealthy saturated fatty acids in the average American diet with healthier unsaturated fatty acids found in avocados, study participants lowered risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

The Hass Avocado Board supported the study, but otherwise had no role in the research.

“Avocados, which technically are a fruit, are rich in monounsaturated fats that may help reduce cholesterol levels and decrease the risk of heart disease,” Keri Gans, nutritionist and author of The Small Change Diet, tells Yahoo Health. “They are also a good source of fiber, which may help control blood sugars.”

As if that weren’t enough, here are more reasons why the avocado is such an amazing piece of produce:

They can help overweight people feel fuller longer. Avocados can help stave off the munchies between lunch and dinner. A 2013 study in Nutrition Journal found that overweight adults who ate one half of an avocado at lunch had a 40 percent decrease in the desire to eat again over the next three hours. For some, the feeling of fullness lasted a full five hours.

Avocados can strengthen your immune system. They’re rich in glutathione, which research shows is a powerful antioxidant, detoxifier, and free radical scavenger.

They may help lower blood pressure. The fruit is loaded with more potassium than a banana. Research shows that upping the intake of potassium reduces blood pressure in people with hypertension and is associated with a 24 percent lower risk of stroke.

It’s a brain foodResearch shows that high blood pressure increases the risk of cognitive decline. Avocados lower blood pressure and reduce cholesterol, promoting healthy blood flow and decreasing the risk of a stroke.

Avocados help your body absorb key nutrients. Eating fresh avocados can significantly increase the absorption of beta-carotene, as well as boost the conversion of provitamin A (the inactive form of the vitamin) to vitamin A (the active form), according to a 2014 study. Vitamin A is a potent antioxidant that supports healthy skin, vision and immune function.

The fruit may play a role against oral cancer. Extracts from Hass avocados can kill or halt the growth of pre-cancerous cells that may eventually lead to oral cancer. The researchers believe avocado’s phytochemicals cause cell death in pre-cancerous cells without harming healthy cells.

It can protect you from osteoarthritis. Avocados are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin — carotenoids associated with a lower risk of cartilage defects, which are an early indicator of osteoarthritis.