The Power of Avocados: 3 Key Health Benefits You Didn’t Know
I love avocados. Not only do they taste great, but they also provide you with the healthy fats and nutrients that your body needs. When eaten sensibly, avocados can help you reduce belly fat, improve cardiovascular health, and improve cognitive function.
Let’s take a dive into the wonderful world of the avocado.
Reduce Belly Fat
Carrying a lot of belly fat is more than just an unappealing look. Most times, it is visceral fat surrounding important organs and increasing the risk factor for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. With good nutrition and an exercise program that helps to reduce this belly fat, it is possible that you can reduce your risk for such metabolic disorders. Here are a couple ways that avocados can also help reduce your belly fat.
Do you know what types of fat are generally considered “healthy”? This typically refers to unsaturated fat. Monounsaturated fats, in particular, may help reduce belly fat and improve body composition. In 2019, the Journal of Nutrition had a study that found that consuming one avocado per day reduced visceral fat — this is the type of fat that scares medical professionals because it accumulates around the abdominal organs, namely in overweight and obese adults.
Be honest, are you getting 25-30 grams of fiber per day? That’s how much the American Heart Association recommends. The high fiber content in avocados may contribute to their ability to reduce belly fat by helping to regulate appetite and promote feelings of fullness, which may reduce caloric intake and help with weight loss.
Do you ever cook with avocado oil or use it for your salads? In Guzman-Rodriguez et al. (2018), researchers determined that avocado oil consumption may have positive effects on cardiovascular health by reducing inflammation, improving cholesterol levels, and decreasing oxidative stress. Aside from cardiovascular benefits, they also believe avocado oil may have potential therapeutic applications to treat conditions such as arthritis, psoriasis, and periodontal disease.
Associated with increased belly fat and metabolic dysfunction is chronic inflammation. Avocados have bioactive compounds, such as carotenoids, phytosterols, and flavonoids, which include anti-inflammatory properties. The Journal of Nutrition published a study in 2013 saying adding avocado to a hamburger meal reduced inflammation and improved markers of metabolic health in healthy adults. This is a great example that you can still be healthy, even on your cheat days!
Improve Cardiovascular Health
Heart disease has been the number one cause of death in America for decades. One of the things that is most concerning is that medical professionals are increasingly finding chronic cardiovascular conditions in people younger than age 25 and even in children. While genetics is always a factor to be considered, one cannot deny the dominant cause for this concern has to do with poor eating habits. Nevertheless, instead of attempting to completely change one’s eating habits overnight, you can start making gradual changes, such as adding avocados to your diet.
Blood lipid profiles are a key risk factor for cardiovascular disease that cannot be ignored. A 2018 study in the Journal of Nutrition indicated that consuming an avocado a day improved blood lipid profiles, including a decrease in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (commonly known as “bad” cholesterol) and an increase in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (“good” cholesterol), in overweight and obese adults. If one avocado a day is difficult for you, averaging about 3 to 4 per week may be a good start.
Were you aware that avocados are a rich source of potassium? Thanks to an effective marketing campaign by banana producers, most people only think of bananas as a good source of potassium, but don’t realize that avocados contain the mineral, as well. In a 2013 study published in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension, researchers found that consuming a high-potassium diet, which included avocados, reduced blood pressure in adults with prehypertension or stage 1 hypertension.
Chronic inflammation is associated with the development and progression of cardiovascular disease. A 2015 review published in the journal Phytotherapy Research concluded that avocados may have a beneficial effect on cardiovascular health by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress. This may be because avocados contain a range of bioactive compounds that have anti-inflammatory properties.
Improve Cognitive Function
Most occupations, whether you’re a doctor, a lawyer, or even an auto mechanic, require employees to be fast with decision-making and finding solutions when problems arise, as well as being able to analyze and assess information. In order to perform such tasks, excellent cognitive function can easily increase job performance for the professional. Not only are avocados a great addition to improve cardiovascular health and weight management, but research also indicates they can improve cognitive function, too!
Since avocados are a rich source of healthy fats, including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, it is believed they may support brain health. A 2017 study published in the journal Nutrients found that older adults who consumed a diet rich in these types of fats, including avocados, had better cognitive function than those who consumed a diet low in these fats.
Do you know why antioxidants, such as vitamin E and carotenoids, are so highly regarded? One of the benefits to such antioxidants is that they that may protect against damage in the brain caused by oxidation. The Journal of Alzheimer's Disease published a study in 2017, which found that older adults who consumed a diet high in these antioxidants had better cognitive function than those who consumed a diet low in these antioxidants. Adding avocados to your diet, which are a good source of antioxidants, can be a good start to getting these health benefits.
The most important requirement for eating a healthy diet is choosing foods that are nutrient dense. Since avocados contain a range of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, they are a perfect candidate for the label “nutrient dense”. Research indicates that a diet high in nutrient-dense foods, such as avocados, had better cognitive function than those who consumed a diet low in these foods.
As Americans, we love to indulge, especially when it comes to the things we eat. Unfortunately, most of the food consumed as an indulgence is lacking in the vitamins and minerals that we need. Even worse is that the majority of overweight or obese Americans allowed their waistlines to expand because they turned the occasional indulgence into a regular thing. By introducing delicious, yet healthy foods such as avocados, into your diet, it can play a major role in improving your health.