The green fruits have become a staple in kitchens around the world – and for good reason. Avocados offer a variety of health benefits and are a versatile ingredient in cooking, said CNN nutritionist Lisa Drayer.
She uses the fatty fruits in soups, dips, and even chocolate truffles. Depending on how you bake with it, avocados can be a great fat substitute that won’t make your desserts taste like avocado, she noted.
They are full of nutrients and can be a beneficial addition to a balanced diet. Here are five ways avocados are good for your health:
1. Avocados are rich in omega-3s
They are high in omega-3 fatty acids which help lower low density lipoprotein cholesterol. Often referred to as LDL cholesterol, it’s known as the “bad cholesterol,” Drayer said, while high-density lipoprotein, or HDL, is the “good cholesterol.”
Most of the cholesterol in the human body is LDL cholesterol, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People with high cholesterol are at increased risk of having a stroke or being diagnosed with heart disease, according to the CDC website.
2. They are a great source of potassium
A 100-gram serving of avocado contains 485 milligrams of potassium, according to the US Department of Agriculture. In comparison, a banana contains 358 milligrams (0.01 ounces) of potassium per 100 grams, according to the US National Library of Medicine, the mineral helps regulate nerve function and move nutrients into cells while taking away waste. According to the American Heart Association, potassium is also effective against high blood pressure. High levels of sodium can raise blood pressure, the CDC said, and potassium allows more sodium to leave the body through our urine. This, in turn, lowers our blood pressure, said the American Heart Association.
3. They are filled with monounsaturated fats
Monounsaturated fats are fat molecules with an unsaturated carbon bond, Drayer said. In simple terms, it’s an unsaturated fat that lowers LDL cholesterol without affecting the good HDL cholesterol, she added.
When you have too much LDL cholesterol, it hardens on the edges of your arteries and narrows them, according to the Mayo Clinic. This reduces blood flow through the arteries, which can lead to blood clots and other medical complications.
4. They are also high in fiber
Avocados have nearly 7 grams (0.25 ounces) of fiber per 100 grams (3.5 ounces), according to the USDA. High-fiber foods tend to keep you full longer than low-fiber foods, according to the Mayo Clinic. This makes avocados a great choice for people who are watching their weight, according to the Mayo Clinic.
5. Avocados are high in folic acid
The fatty fruit is high in folic acid at 81 micrograms (0.0000028 ounces) per 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of avocado, according to the USDA.
Folic acid is a B vitamin that is important for proper brain function and healthy pregnancies, Drayer said.
The National Institutes of Health Office for Dietary Supplements recommends that women of childbearing age consume 400 micrograms of folic acid per day. Pregnant women should increase their intake to 600 micrograms (0.000021 ounces) per day, according to the CDC. Folic acid can help prevent birth defects, especially those that affect a baby’s brain and spine, during the first few weeks of pregnancy, according to the CDC. About half of pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, the article says, which is why it is important for all women of childbearing age to have enough folic acid as part of their normal diet.
The final result
Avocados are a great source of nutrients and can help lower LDL cholesterol levels. Plus, they can keep you satisfied for longer.
Like other high-fat foods, avocados are high in calories, which means there are many calories per gram. A 100 gram serving of avocado watches is equivalent to 160 calories, according to the USDA.
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As long as you are aware of your avocado intake because it is high in calories, they are a great addition to your diet, Drayer said.
Guacamole is a popular avocado dish that is easy to prepare and a crowd-pleaser. Here’s a classic recipe as well as a recipe with a unique spin on the dip with sun-dried tomatoes and bacon.