What's not to love about avocado? Its creamy, rich texture and flavor instantly enhance any dish we add it to. But the avocado's health benefits are where it really shines.
As far as good-for-us foods go, nothing quite tops the avocado.
Not only are avocados decadently delicious, but they are also brimming with powerful nutrients that enhance our health and keep us fuller for longer.
Avocados are enjoyed mashed, sliced, and chopped into mouth watering culinary dishes around the world, but their appeal does not end there.
The creamy avocado’s unique ability to deeply condition skin and hair also make avocados an affordable yet effective addition to any beauty regimen as well.
Read on to learn the many ways incorporating this popular fruit can boost your health from the inside out.
What’s in an avocado?
With hundreds of different avocado types out there, by far the most commonly found and used is the Hass avocado.
A third of an avocado, or 50 grams, has 80 calories and supplies almost 20 vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, including 10% of your daily recommended folate, 10% daily vitamin K, 8% daily vitamin B2, and 10% daily copper.
Avocados are also a good source of dietary fiber, providing 3 grams of fiber in 50 grams of avocado, or 11% of your daily recommended amount.
But what makes the avocado stand out is that it is a rich source of monounsaturated fat, a heart-healthy fat that offers a variety of important health benefits. Fifty grams of avocado delivers 5 grams of this beneficial fat.
Avocado’s many benefits
While there is no hard proof that eating avocados will help you lose weight, there is reason to believe that people who do eat avocados regularly tend to weigh less than those who do not.
A large study that followed the eating habits of 17,567 adults for seven years showed that avocado eaters enjoyed considerably better-quality diets full of more fruits, vegetables, fiber, and monounsaturated fats with less added sugar compared to those who were not.
This translated to a reduction of 7.5 lbs of body weight, 1.7 kg/m2 BMI, 4 cm of waist circumference, and an increase of 2.4 mg/d of beneficial HDL cholesterol among the two groups.
The evidence is clear when it comes to avocado’s powerful ability to lower the risk for cardiovascular disease, especially when avocado’s healthy monounsaturated fat replaces the saturated and trans fats one would consume otherwise.
One 2015 study that analyzed avocado’s effects on heart disease markers found that eating one avocado a day for 5 weeks was enough to lower total cholesterol by 8% and lower LDL cholesterol by 10%.
Aside from protecting the heart, avocados also contain antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties due to a diverse, active array of phytochemicals that help counteract disease-causing bacteria, and are often used to protect against ultraviolet radiation and its aging effects on skin.
How to pick the perfect avocado
Despite a common belief among grocery shoppers, it is not always easy to know whether an avocado is ready to eat by looking at it or even squeezing it.
A surefire way to determine the ripeness of an avocado is to remove its stem.
If the stem cannot be removed easily, that is a sign the avocado is not yet ripe. If it can be removed easily but reveals a brown spot underneath, it is too ripe. If you see greenish yellow beneath the stem, it is perfectly ripe and ready to be eaten.
Stuck with a not-yet-ripe avocado but want to speed up the ripening process? Place it in a paper bag along with a banana. Seal the top well and check every day until the avocado is soft and ready to eat.
Once cut, leftover avocado will turn brown due to air exposure and oxidation. You can prevent browning by squeezing antioxidant-rich lemon juice on top.
Tomato Basil Avocado Toast
1 slice whole grain bread, toasted
½ ripe avocado, mashed
5 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
3-4 basil leaves, sliced thinly
Drizzle of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Slather your toast with mashed avocado, then top with tomatoes, basil, a drizzle of olive oil, and a dash of salt and pepper.
Nutrient Facts/ serving: Calorie: 267, Total Fat: 17g, Monounsaturated fat: 11 g, Sodium: 436, Carb: 26g, Fiber: 9.7g
Mint Chocolate Chip Avocado Ice Cream
2 ripe avocados
½ cup unsweetened almond milk
¼ cup honey
1 Tbsp coconut oil
¼ tsp peppermint extract
¼ cup chocolate chips
1) Line a freezer safe container, like a loaf pan, with parchment paper.
2) Add all ingredients except for chocolate chips into a blender, blending until smooth.
3) Stir in chocolate chips and pour into the pan.
4) Place into the freezer to freeze for at least 5 hours. When ready to eat, soften on the countertop for 5 minutes before scooping.
Nutrient Facts/ serving: Calorie:312, Total Fat:22g, Monounsaturated fat: 11g, Carb:33, Fiber: 7.5g
Tropical Mango Guacamole
3 large ripe avocados, halved with pits removed
1 cup fresh mango, diced
¼ red onion, diced
4 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
2 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice
Black pepper to taste
1) Scoop out the avocados into a bowl, mashing the flesh with a fork.
2) Gently stir in the rest of the ingredients. Leftovers can be stored for 24 hours with plastic wrap covering the bowl.
Nutrient Facts/ serving: Calorie:271, Total Fat:22g, Monounsaturated fat: 15g, Sodium: 48g, Carb:20g, Fiber: 11g
Avocado Honey Facial Mask
Mix 1 mashed avocado with 1 tablespoon of honey until a paste is formed. Apply to the face, avoiding the delicate skin around the eyes, and leave on for 15 minutes. Rinse off with warm water to reveal a radiant glow.