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An Avocado a day….

Mar 14, 2012 by     Comments Off    Posted under: Anti ageing nutrition


….keeps the doctor away…






In a nutshell, avocados are high in beneficial fats, vitamins and fibre.

1. Beneficial fats
Avocados are high in fat content, but provide the healthy type of fat (monounsaturated fat) that your body needs. High avocado intake was shown in one preliminary study to lower blood cholesterol levels – after a seven-day diet rich in avocados, patients with mild hypercholesterolaemia showed a 17% decrease in total serum cholesterol levels; these subjects also showed a 22% decrease in both LDL (‘bad’cholesterol) and triglyceride levels and an 11% increase in HDL (‘good’ cholesterol) levels.
Due to the content of specific ‘aliphatic acetogenins’ in avocados, they are under preliminary research for potential anti-cancer activity.

2. Carotenoids
Vitamin A (a type of carotenoid), is good for protecting eye health. Although many people associate carotenoids with red and orange produce, avocados are also an excellent source of carotenoids. Avocados also offer a diverse range of carotenoids including not only the better known ones such as beta-carotene, alpha-carotene and lutein, but also other varieties such as neoxanthin, zeaxanthin, chrysanthemaxanthin, neochrome, beta-cryptoxanthin and violaxanthin. As carotenes are fat soluble, their absorption is enhanced if eaten with fats; avocados are naturally high in fat so eating avocados optimizes the absorption of carotenoids.
This match between avocado’s fat content and its carotenoids also extends to eating avocado with other foods. Recent research has shown that if one cup of avocado (150 grams) is added to a salad of lettuce, absorption of carotenoids will be increased by 200%. This improvement in carotenoid absorption has also been shown in the case of salsa made with and without avocado.

3.Anti-Inflammatory Effects
The combined effect of all the nutrients in avocados offers powerful anti-inflammatory benefits. Avocados’ combination of Vitamins C and E, carotenoids, selenium, zinc, phytosterols and omega-3 fatty acids help guard against inflammation. Reducing inflammation is generally a good thing – inflammation is associated with many serious diseases.

4. Heart Health
The fat content of avocados, which causes some uninformed health experts to deem them as unhealthy, actually provides protection against heart diseases. Oleic acid (a monounsaturated fat also found in olive oil) is the primary fatty acid in avocados and studies have shown that oleic acid improves cardiovascular health. Avocados are also rich in omega-3 (in the form of alpha-linolenic acid), another fatty acid known to be beneficial to health.
Phytosterols – compounds similar to cholesterol, account for a significant portion of avocado fats and have proven cholesterol-lowering efficacy

5. Protein Content
Avocado protein is more readily absorbed than the protein in a cooked steak, and avocados provide all 18 essential amino acids necessary for the body to form a complete protein. (Avocados have about 2% protein – a little bit less than in milk).

A bit more on avocados…
I should call myself an ‘avocado advocate and aficionado’ – if I had to limit myself to only one fruit a day, I would make sure that it’s an avocado! I could probably write a thesis on the health benefits of avocados – I am so convinced about their benefits that on most days for the last few months I’ve been eating a whole avocado every day – usually on it’s own and sometimes in a salad. As a consequence of this ‘avocado diet’, my LDL (bad) cholesterol came down by 15% (which is similar to what scientifically conducted studies have shown); mine wasn’t a ‘controlled experiment’, as other foods in my regular diet also changed, but I think it was mostly the avocado that did it.

My fondness for avocados goes back a long way – when I was pregnant with my eldest son (who is now 18), I ate an avocado every day for the first 3 months – although at that time I ate them for their high folic acid content (which is supposed to prevent neural tube defects).

The dark green flesh that lies just beneath the skin of the avocado is the densest in nutrients, so be sure to scrape the skin clean before discarding it.

Avocados are a relatively low-carbohydrate food, with about 19% of its calories coming from carbohydrate. It’s also a low-sugar food and falls very low on the glycemic index scale. At the same time, a medium avocado provides about 9 grams of dietary fibre, making it an important dietary source of fibre.

The avocado also contains some of the most unusual carbohydrate components in any food. When it is still on the tree, avocados contain about 60% of its carbohydrate in the form of 7-carbon sugars. In sizable amounts, 7-carbon sugars (like mannoheptulose, the primary carbohydrate in unripened avocado) are rarely seen in foods. Because of their rare status, food scientists have been especially interested in the 7-carbon sugars (mannoheptulose, sedoheptulose, and related sugar alcohols like perseitol) found in avocado. The 7-carbon sugars like mannoheptulase may help regulate the way that blood sugar (glucose) is metabolized by blocking activity of an enzyme called hexokinase and changing the level of activity through a metabolic pathway called glycolysis. Research in this area is still a long way from determining potential health benefits for humans from dietary intake of these 7-carbon sugars, but it’s a new area of potential health benefit of avocados.
Another interesting observation from this research on avocados and its carbohydrates: after five days of ripening (post-harvest, beginning with removal of the avocado from the tree), the carbohydrate profile of avocado changes significantly. The 7-carbon sugars change from being the predominant form of carbohydrate in avocado (60%) to being an important but minority component (between 40-50% of total carbohydrate). With ripening, the 5-carbon sugars—especially sucrose—become the predominant carbohydrate – it may be that the degree of avocado ripeness is an important factor in its health benefits.

Nutrition Information for Avocados

Nutrition per 100g per portion RDA women RDA men RDA child
Energy 190 kcal 143 kcal 7% 6% 8%
Protein 1.9 g 1.4 g 3% 3% 6%
Carbohydrate 1.9 g 1.4 g 1% 0% 1%
Total Sugars 0.5 g 0.4 g 0% 0% 0%
Total Fat 20 g 15 g 21% 15% 21%
Polyunsaturates 2.2 g 1.7 g
Mono Unsaturates 12 g 9.1 g
Saturated Fat 4.1 g 3.1 g 15% 10% 15%
Fibre 3.4 g 2.6 g 11% 11% 17%
Salt 0.0 g 0.0 g 0% 0% 0%

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