What are the health benefits of avocado?
What makes avocados so popular is the taste and the many health benefits and nutrients they have to offer. What these (proven) health benefits are, you will discover in this article.
The taste is also not entirely unimportant for the success of the avocado. They can greatly enrich all kinds of dishes.
How to enjoy avocado while boosting your health can be read in the 5 recipes with which I will conclude this article.
What you will learn in this article:
- What the nutritional value of avocados is
- What the health benefits are
- That you can also use avocados to care for your skin
- 5 delicious recipes
What are avocados?
An avocado is a pear-shaped fruit. They fall into the category of berries. Depending on the variety, they can be 7 to 20 centimeters long and over 2 kilos heavy.
The avocado was cultivated for the first time in Mexico some 2500 years ago.
Most avocados that you find in the western European supermarkets are of the variety ‘Hass’.
The Hass avocado is the most cultivated variety. This is due to its taste, shelf life and high harvest yield.
This Hass avocado weighs between 200 and 300 grams each. The skin is green which turns black-brown during ripening. The peel feels rough and lumpy.
It is often difficult to judge whether an avocado is completely ready to eat.
A trick to find out here is to get the little stick out of the tip of the avocado.
If the avocado is ready to eat, you will see that the spot where the pit was it’s white-green in color.
Avocados almost always are eaten raw. If they are heated (100 degrees or warmer), a molecular reaction takes place which causes the taste to change. They turn brown and start to taste like quinine (a ‘tonic’ taste).
Avocados will therefore never cook or bake you so quickly, though it is possible.
If you put avocados on a warm toast or if guacamole does on your burritos then they will not be sufficiently heated to spoil the delicious taste and creamy texture.
The special thing about avocados is that they are rich in fatty acids. They contain, among other things, the healthy omega 3 fatty acids. A fatty acid that you find particularly in foods of animal origin and in seeds and nuts.
Furthermore, minerals, vitamins and dietary fiber are well represented in avocados.
Avocados are very nutritious. The beauty is that it contains all macronutrients and many micronutrients.
Theoretically, they are so nutritious that you could survive for a while, they contain all macronutrients and many micronutrients.
Although I would not recommend it to you. You will eventually have a deficiency of vitamin B12 and calcium.
|Nutritional value of avocado (variety: Hass)|
|Nutritional avocado value||Per 100 grams|
|Of which saturated||2 gram|
|Of which are sugars||0 gram|
|Of which are fibers||7 gram|
|Of which are proteins||2 gram|
Avocado contains a lot of calories for a fruit. This is due to the fatty acids in which it is rich.
About 80% of the calories come from fats. That is 20 times more than the average for other types of fruit. With most types of fruit, the calories come mainly from carbohydrates (fructose).
One whole avocado contains about 300 kcal and 30 grams of fat.
If you want to lose weight, you should therefore not eat too much avocado. Half an avocado per day is a nice guideline. Although it does not matter if you eat more of it now and then.
Avocados have the advantage that they give you a feeling of satisfaction so you will not eat too much of other things too quickly.
Fatty acid profile of an avocado
Because avocado is often eaten because of the healthy fatty acids, it is interesting to see what the fatty acid profile looks like. This is as follows:
|Fatty Acids Profile Avocado (variety: Hass)|
|Fatty acid||Per 100 grams|
|Total fatty acids||15 grams|
|Saturated fatty acid||2.12 gram|
|Of which palmitic acid||2.07 gram|
|Of which stearic acid||49 mg|
|Monounsaturated fatty acids||9.8 gram|
|Of which palmitoleic acid (omega 7)||700 mg|
|Of which oleic acid (omega 9)||9.07 gram|
|Polyunsaturated fatty acids||1.8 gram|
|Of which linoleic acid (omega 6)||1.67 gram|
|Of which alpha-linoleic acid (omega 3)||110 mg|
An average avocado gives you 30 grams of fatty acids, 20 grams of which are unsaturated fatty acids.
Oleic acid accounts for most of the fatty acids.
The omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids in avocado do not have a favorable ratio. The ratio is 10: 1 in favor of omega 6 fatty acids.
Despite this unfavorable ratio, avocados in a balanced diet have beneficial effects on health.
Vitamins in avocado
Avocados also contain the necessary vitamins. The table below shows which and how much.
|Vitamins in avocado (race: Hass)|
|Vitamins||Per 100 gram|
|Vitamins A||147 IU (3% ADH)|
|Vitamins B1||100 mcg (5% ADH)|
|Vitamins B2||100 mcg (8% ADH)|
|Vitamins B3||1,9 mg (10% ADH)|
|Vitamins B5||1,5 mg (15% ADH)|
|Vitamins B6||300 mcg (14% ADH)|
|Vitamins B11 (folic acid)||89 mcg (22% ADH)|
|Vitamins C||8,8 mg (15% ADH)|
|Vitamins E||2 mcg (10% ADH)|
|Vitamins K||21 mcg (26% ADH)|
Multiply the above value by 2 and you know how many vitamins there are in a small avocado.
Avocado gives many different vitamins. Only vitamin D and B12 do not occur in avocado.
Minerals in avocado
Avocados also supply minerals, albeit in fairly modest quantities.
|Minerals in avocado (variety: Hass)|
|Minerals||Per 100 gram|
|Calcium13 mg||(1% RDA)|
|Iron600 mcg||(3% ADH)|
|Magnesium29 mg||(7% ADH)|
|Phosphor 53 mg||(5% ADH)|
|Potassium507 mg||(14% RDA)|
|Zinc695 mcg||(5% ADH)|
|Copper203 mcg||(9% ADH)|
|Manganese 99 mcg||(7% ADH)|
|Selenium 0.4 mcg||(1% RDA)|
|Sodium 8 mg||(0% RDA)|
The health benefits of avocados
Avocados are also seen as super food which be not so strange given the nutritional value and the health benefits.
Health benefit # 1: anti-inflammatory fatty acids
Low-threshold inflammations are the basis of many diseases and disorders. Inflammation (partly) causes cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and cancer.
Although avocados are praised for their omega 3 fatty acids, they are actually the omega 9 fatty acids it is rich in. The largest part of the fatty acids consists of oleic acid.
Oleic acid is also an important fatty acid in olive oil and also occurs in coconut oil. Oleic acid has been shown to reduce inflammation (source, source, source). In these studies, oleic acid was found to be most effective in combination with omega-3 fatty acid (alpha-linolenic acid) as is the case with olive oil.
Health benefit # 2: good for your cholesterol
Doctors speak of high cholesterol if the values mark an increased risk of arterial calcification. Arterial artery disease is a major health risk because it increases the risk of heart attack or stroke.
The annoying thing about high cholesterol is that you do not notice until it’s too late. Therefore, in health checks, the blood is examined to see if the cholesterol is too high.
We distinguish between LDL and HDL cholesterol. LDL stands for Low-Density Lipoprotein and is also called the bad cholesterol because high LDL values mark the risk of arterial calcification.
The polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are rich in avocados, help to lower the bad LDL cholesterol.
HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein) cholesterol is seen as the good cholesterol. It ensures that excess LDL cholesterol can be drained from the blood walls. The fatty acids of avocados help to increase the good HDL cholesterol.
In a study among people with normal lipid (fat) values, it decreased by 16% after the participants had added avocados to their diet for a week.
In the same study, people with high cholesterol were also examined. After a week the total cholesterol was 17%, the LDL cholesterol was reduced by 22% and the triglycerides by 22%. This while the good HDL cholesterol had increased by 11%.
Health benefit # 3: helps with non-alcoholic fatty liver
In the case of non-alcoholic fatty liver, there is a disrupted fat and sugar metabolism in the liver. As a result, fat accumulates in and around the liver.
A non-alcoholic fatty liver is often referred to by the abbreviation NAFLD, which stands for Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease.
NAFLD usually gives no complaints, sometimes there are only symptoms in the end stage when NAFLD turns into liver inflammation (NASH), after which liver cirrhosis and eventually liver cancer can occur.
People with NAFLD have an increased risk of diabetes type 2, twice as likely to develop cardiovascular disease and the risk of premature death is 1.5 times as large.
NAFLD is reversible by losing weight and lifestyle adjustments. Lately, more attention has also been paid to foods that can help to tackle NAFLD.
Foods that reduce NAFLD:
- Avocados and avocado oil
- Black coffee
- Nuts, walnuts in particular
- Olive oil
- Fatty fish and fish oil
- Red wine (if in modest quantities)
Vitamin E is also found in avocados. It has been shown that this also helps against a heavy liver.
Health benefit # 4: lowers the risk of certain types of cancer
Carotenoids are fat-soluble antioxidants that are contained in avocados in relatively large quantities. They are mainly in the dark green flesh directly under the skin.
In order to preserve the carotenoids as much as possible, it is, therefore, best to peel the flesh out of the shell instead of scooping it out with a spoon.
Carotenoids are found in various types of plant foods, the fatty acids in avocados, however, ensure that the carotenoids can be properly absorbed by the body.
The fatty acids in avocado also ensure that fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) are better absorbed.
Tomatoes and carrots are also rich in carotenoids, by eating these in combination with avocados they are well absorbed.
By adding avocado or avocado oil to a salad, you ensure that the antioxidants are absorbed 2.6 to 15 times better.
Carotenoids help prevent cell damage and protect against oxidative stress.
Studies suggest that carotenoids reduce the risk of breast, mouth, stomach and prostate cancer.
Antitumor properties are attributed to the oleic acid, which is rich in avocados.
Health benefit # 5: lowers the risk of macular degeneration
The macula is the center of the retina in which there are cones.
In macular degeneration, vision deteriorates. In the vernacular, “wear and tear of the retina” is also spoken.
A pair of antioxidants in combination with omega 3 fatty acids can help prevent age-related macular degeneration. These are the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin which occur naturally in combination with omega 3 in avocados.
Lutein and zeaxanthin may also help prevent cataracts, although this evidence is not convincing. More research is needed for this.
Health benefit # 6: lowers risk of metabolic syndrome
The metabolic syndrome is caused by an imbalance between food intake and physical activity (read: too little exercise and too much food). The metabolism is thus seriously disrupted with negative effects on health.
The metabolic syndrome is a combination of common conditions such as increased blood glucose, overweight/obesity (too much belly fat), high cholesterol and increased blood pressure.
The metabolic syndrome is often the harbinger of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.
The metabolic syndrome can be reversed or prevented by tackling obesity and lifestyle adaptations.
Avocados also reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome. In people who regularly eat avocados, the metabolic syndrome occurs 50% less often.
Research also shows that people who regularly eat avocados also eat more vegetables and less sugar.
It is, therefore, people who consciously make healthier food choices. That the metabolic syndrome is less common in this group of people be not only thanks to the avocados but also thanks to the healthier food choices.
Avocados increase the quality of the diet and the number of nutrients that are eaten.
Because of the fibers and fatty acids one will eat too much less quickly, which results in a better balance between the amount of food you eat and how much you move. What brings us on health benefit # 7.
Health benefit # 7: stay on weight
The energy that avocados give in combination with the fibers ensures that one becomes saturated earlier. This prevents eating too much of what is important to maintain a healthy weight.
In one study, overweight people were fed half an avocado with their lunch. Because of this, they had a full feeling during the afternoon. Which meant that they could offer better resistance to appetite in an afternoon snack.
Avocado healthy for the skin
Externally avocado is also used for the care of skin and hair. Avocado oil is used for this.
Avocado oil can be extracted from the flesh of avocado or from the kernel of the avocado. Both oils contain healthy fatty acids, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins.
Avocado oil helps to keep the skin soft, strong and elastic. You can smear the skin with pure avocado oil, you can buy beauty products in which avocado oil is processed or you can make your beauty products based on avocado oil.
Avocado oil is used for:
- Treating dry skin
- Treating an itchy skin
- Hydrating the skin
- Treating a damaged skin
- Protecting the skin against UV radiation
The effect of avocado oil on the skin has been mainly demonstrated in animal studies. For example, avocado oil has been found to cure the wounds faster in rats.
An interesting study in people with psoriasis (a chronic disease of the skin) showed that a vitamin B12 cream with avocado oil can be used for the long-term treatment of psoriasis.
There are no studies showing that the use of avocado oil can have side effects. Despite that, it is wise to first treat a small piece of your skin, on your arm, with avocado oil to see if there is no allergic reaction within 24 hours.
Avocado oil can possibly alleviate osteoarthritis
The unsaponifiable oil from avocados and soya can be used to relieve the pain in osteoarthritis.
These oils are for sale in the form of supplements. According to a study, these unsaponifiable fats can alleviate the pain, stiffness and reduced mobility of the joints in osteoarthritis.
It is not (yet) known what the long-term effect of these unsaponifiable fats on osteoarthritis is.
The avocado pit
The kernel of the avocado you usually throw directly into the waste bin. But did you know that it contains a lot of beneficial substances? It is possibly the healthiest part of the avocado.
Researchers had the peel off the kernels of hundreds of avocados dried, after which they pulverized them into powder. Then she further processed this into oil and wax.
In the oil, the researchers found 116 substances and in the wax 16.
According to the researchers, many of these substances are a goldmine and may be used to treat a wide range of certain diseases.
According to Dr. Debasish Bandyopadhyay, from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, these substances could even be used for the treatment of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
In the oil, they found docosanol (behenyl alcohol) which is an important ingredient in antiviral drugs.
Also dodecanoic acid (lauric acid) appeared to be in the peel of the kernels. This would help to increase the good HDL cholesterol.
In the wax, the researchers found substances that can be used in cosmetics and in the production of synthetic products, from shower curtains to medical equipment.
So from now on the avocado pips even eat? According to the California Avocado Commission, that be not such a good plan.
The extracts of the avocado kernel contain healthy substances, but they also contain substances that have not been sufficiently researched to make sure that they are safe.
In short, it means that it can not yet be said that the health benefits outweigh the risks of eating the avocado seeds.
A number of health blogs promote the use of avocado seeds in smoothies. This is because the kernel contains the highest concentrations of antioxidants. If you also want to try this, it is at your own risk.
Remember that avocado seeds are very bitter in taste. You will, therefore, need to add them to sweet smoothies.
Before you can add avocado seeds to your smoothie, you will have to dry them first. You can do this by putting the seeds at 180 degrees in the oven for 2 hours.
Then you crush the pips with the side of a large knife. They will burst into two pieces. The kernels are then put into a strong blender to grind them to the powder with the pulsation mode.
You can then add the powder to your smoothies. You can keep the powder that you have left in the fridge in a sealed container.
Avocados and pregnancy
It is good to eat avocados if you want to become pregnant if you are pregnant and if you are breastfeeding.
Avocado is a good source of folic acid which is important to prevent the birth of a child with a birth defect.
Avocados are also a source of potassium that needs extra care during pregnancy.
Avocados contain many healthy nutrients and help to improve the quality of breastfeeding.
Avocados are of course a great superfood and have the advantage that it is for sale at every supermarket for a reasonable price.
Sometimes something is called a superfood very quickly, in my eyes it be not always right.
To simply enjoy at home all the good what avocados have to offer you can indulge yourself with the following recipes.
Recipe # 1: Spicy guacamole
Do you think of avocados then chances are you also think of guacamole. A guacamole recipe cannot be missed here.
Guacamole is best when you make it yourself. And the nice thing about this dip is that you make it with only healthy ingredients. So enjoy responsible enjoyment.
This guacamole recipe is for anyone who likes a spicy guacamole.
- 3 avocados
- 2 Roma tomatoes
- 2 Jalapeño peppers
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 small onion
- 1 lime
- 40 grams of fresh coriander
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- ½ teaspoon cumin powder
- ½ teaspoon of black pepper
- Cut the avocados and remove the kernel. Put them in a large bowl and prick the avocado with a fork. It is the intention that you do not puree the avocado and leave some rough bits in it.
- Cut the Jalapeño pepper and remove the seeds. Cut the peppers as finely as possible into cubes and add them to the dish.
- Clean the onion, cut it into small cubes and add it to the dish.
- Cut the tomatoes and remove the seed. This ensures that the guacamole is not too wet. Cut the tomato into small cubes and add it to the dish.
- Squeeze the garlic cloves with a garlic press above the dish.
- Cut the coriander fine and add it to the dish.
- Add the salt, black pepper and the cumin powder.
- Cut the lime and squeeze out the juice above the dish.
- Finally, mix all ingredients well with a fork. To make the flavors better, you can first put the guacamole in the fridge for an hour before serving.
Extra protein? Add a few scoops of Greek yogurt to your guacamole to add extra protein.
For a sweet spicy guacamole, add some diced pineapple and mango. Another tasty fruit combination is strawberry with peach.
Your guacamole even healthier? Then add a small hand of pine nuts and pomegranate seeds.
Extra protein and fiber? Then put the contents of a small can of black beans through your guacamole.
Cheatday guacamole? Then add grated cheese and crispy fried pieces of bacon.
A pre-workout guacamole? Then add a ripe banana and finely chopped pieces of cashew nuts.
Recipe # 2: Avocado chocolate mousse
In many countries, they make desserts from avocados. The fatty acids in the avocado ensure that you will have a full feeling for a long time, so you will not need to snack.
If you use a natural sweetener such as stevia, it also saves sugar that you would get with an ‘ordinary’ dessert. This recipe is sugar, gluten, milk and soy free.
For this chocolate mousse, we use raw cocoa powder. The raw cocoa powder contains the most antioxidants of all foods in the world. Even more than chocolate because in the preparation of chocolate some of the antioxidants are lost by heating.
You can also make this chocolate mousse with regular cocoa powder. This will then contain fewer antioxidants but is still super healthy.
Cocoa is also a rich source of dietary fiber and magnesium. Magnesium plays a role in more than 700 processes in the body, including your energy metabolism.
Ingredients (4 portions):
- 2 ripe avocados
- 40 grams of raw cocoa powder
- 80 ml unsweetened almond milk
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1 very small pinch of salt
- Some drops of pure stevia (to taste)
- Cut the avocados and remove the kernel and peel. Put the flesh into the blender.
- Add the remaining ingredients and blend until you have a nice smooth mass. Add to taste stevia to make your mousse sweet.
If you do not have a blender, you can also put the ingredients in a large bowl and use a fork as finely as possible. Your mousse will then be less slippery.
Instead of stevia as a sweetener, you can also use natural sugars such as honey or coconut blossom sugar. Your mousse will naturally contain more calories.
Recipe # 3: avocado hummus
Hummus has become increasingly popular in recent years. It is tasty and healthy. It is a smooth paste that you eat as a dip. It is made from chickpeas according to a Middle Eastern recipe.
Traditionally you eat hummus with Lebanese flatbread, but it is also eaten with pita bread. I prefer to eat hummus with raw vegetables such as red peppers, raw carrots, celery or cucumber.
You can buy hummus ready at the supermarket, but you can make the best hummus yourself. By incorporating avocados into it, you make your hummus extra healthy and creamy.
This is what you need to make avocado hummus:
- 1 can of chickpeas of 400 grams
- 2 ripe avocados
- 1 large tablespoon tahini (sesame paste)
- 1 clove of garlic
- ½ lemon
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- A pinch of cumin powder
- A pinch of salt
- A little bit of ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon cut fresh coriander
- Open the can of chickpeas and let the chickpeas drain well.
- Clean the garlic clove and cut it into small pieces.
- Put the chickpeas in the blender and add the olive oil, tahini and garlic.
- Squeeze out the juice from the half-lemon above the blender.
- Turn the blender on for 2 minutes to make it becomes nicely smooth whole.
- Meanwhile, cut the avocados and remove the kernel and the peel.
- Add the avocado to the blender.
- Add salt, black pepper and cumin powder to taste.
- Blend the whole another minute or 2.
- Use the coriander for garnishing.
Recipe # 4: avocado tuna salad
Do not want to cook and need something fast but still healthy? Then this avocado tuna salad is really something for you. It only takes you 3 minutes to prepare this healthy tuna salad.
Normally you make tuna salad with mayonnaise. In this tuna salad, you replace the mayonnaise for avocado. This gives your body healthier fatty acids and of course a whole range of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
- A can of tuna on olive oil or water
- ½ ripe avocado
- Some salt and pepper
- Put the tuna in a bowl
- Cut the avocado and add the pulp of half an avocado to the tuna
- Add salt and pepper to taste
- Work everything through with a fork and you’re done!
You can put the tuna salad on bread or toast. If you want to eat a low carbohydrate, you can also eat this avocado tuna salad in a wrap of (iceberg) lettuce leaves or on a cut bell pepper.
Recipe 5: key lime pie
If you make key lime pie according to a classic American recipe, it is terribly tasty but unfortunately also a calorie bomb.
Traditionally you use a lot of cookies, butter, cream cheese, condensed milk and sour cream. That means unfortunately also a calorie bomb.
It can also be a little less over the top with the calories with the recipe below.
This recipe has about 50% fewer calories than a key lime pie according to the traditional recipe. But what makes this key lime pie really special is that it contains only healthy fatty acids.
Who said that healthy cannot be good?
- 2 ripe avocados
- 120 ml of coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons of honey
- 2 tablespoons of lime juice
Ingredients for the bottom:
- 75 grams of almond
- 7 pitted dates
- A pinch of salt and Cayenne pepper
- Cut the avocados and dispose of the kernel and skin.
- Put the ingredients for the filling together in a blender and mix until you have a nice smooth mass.
- Cut the dates into fine pieces.
- Stamp the almonds into crumbs with a mortar.
- Put the pieces of date, the almond crumbs, the salt and Cayenne pepper in a bowl stirring it together.
- Put this on a baking tray or a large plate to be able to press it together so that you get the bottom of your pie
- Lubricate your filling over the crust and put it for 2 hours in the freezer so that it can harden.
- Remove the key lime pie from the freezer 5 minutes before serving.
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