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AVOCADO; the Worlds Fittest Fruit

By Sj McShane

When you think of fruit, especially a berry, an avocado might not be the first that comes to mind!  But, in fact this delicious green is exactly that!  Nicknamed the “alligator pear” for its shape and outer texture, the avocado is a powerhouse of a fruit! Packed with nutrients and a super creamy flavor, the avocado is gaining popularity and ending up in everything from salads  to toast toppings. The versatility alone is a reason to love them, but that doesn’t even scratch the surface of how amazing they are for our bodies. So what, exactly, makes this pear-shaped berry such a super food?


Let’s find out!


1-Cancer Fighter. Cancer is a word that scares almost everybody. It’s affected so many of our lives and we must take a stand against it. Eating clean, organic foods is one way we can join the fight. Avocados have been shown to reduce the risk of certain cancers, including cancers of the mouth, skin and prostate. This is due to the unusual mix of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory characteristics. Furthermore, a 2007 study in the journal Seminars in Cancer Biology found that the phytochemicals in avocados encourage cancer cells to STOP growing and die. If that doesn’t make you run to the closest farmer’s market, then I don’t know what will. Adding just a half of an avocado into your diet each day adds super cancer fighting properties along with a deep, rich flavor.


2- Avocado boosts immune function The “good” fat in avocado is behind yet another avocado health benefit: boosting your immune system. Avocados contain 18 of the 22 amino acids that we need to stay healthy — they’re a veritable powerhouse for keeping illness at bay and energy levels high. They also contain Glutathione which boosts your body’s immune system and keeps your nervous system healthy.  Not to mention, when working out, our bodies are put under stress, this in turn can affect the immune. Adding avocados into your diet will help build the immune and protect it each day!


3- An Avocado Has More Potassium than a Banana. let’s face it, bananas are known for their potassium levels but, the avocado has them beat! A single avocado has 975 milligrams of potassium while a banana, delivers just half that, with 487 milligrams per large fruit. Botanically speaking, the avocado is the fruit of the avocado tree, same as the banana. And while culinary speaking, many of us are more familiar with the avocado as a savory food, in some countries, such as Brazil, avocado is traditionally eaten sweetened, as a dessert. All the while containing high levels of potassium that are much needed for athletes who sweat daily and need electrolyte replacement. Before picking up a chemical laden sports drink, try consuming foods pre and post training such as the avocado!


4- Glowing Skin We all know good fats help promote healthy looking skin, but the avocado contains both “good” fats, vitamin C and vitamin E. This combo helps keep skin nourished and glowing. According to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, an avocado and B12 cream may be useful in treating psoriasis! In addition to that amazing information, when adding good fats into the diet such as mono and poly- unsaturated fats, skin textures have been known to change to more supple and less dry textures. You can even make an avocado mask by mashing a half an avocado in a bowl and applying to the face as you would a mask. Let the avocado mask sit on the skin for 5 minutes and rinse.


5- Osteoporosis prevention We all need to protect our bones, especially women as we age. Avocados may have the answer to the key nutrients that we need to absorb all other nutrients!  Half of an avocado provides approximately 25% of the daily-recommended intake for vitamin K, a nutrient that is often overlooked, but which is essential for bone health. Vitamin K is often overshadowed by calcium and vitamin D when thinking of nutrients important for maintaining healthy bones, however, eating a diet with adequate vitamin K can support bone health by increasing calcium absorption and reducing urinary excretion of calcium. In a nut shell, without K we can’t absorb the much needed vitamins we need for strong bones!

 

6- Heart Health The beat goes on! Supporting the “ticker” is extremely important and thankfully, the health benefits of avocados include a healthier heart!  Although there are many heart healthy nutrients in avocados, one that takes the cake is Beta-sitosterol.  This nutrient helps to maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Research studies suggest that the intake of avocados may enhance antiatherogenic properties of HDL cholesterol, which helps in protecting your heart from arteriosclerotic vascular disease. The significant levels of potassium also make avocados a powerful fruit in the fight against hypertension. Potassium is a vasodilator, which relaxes the tension of blood vessels and arteries, thereby reducing the chances of clotting, heart attacks, and strokes. 


7- High in Protein Whether you are a meat eater or vegan, avocados pack a protein punch! Unlike many other fruits, an avocado actually contains muscle building protein that is perfect for post workout nutrients. The actual amount of protein depends on the size of the fruit, but about 100 grams of avocado contains 2 grams of protein.  Add some of this “vegetarian butter” on top of your grilled chicken post workout and let the recovery begin!


8- Avocados can help lower cholesterol Prevention is key and thanks to avocados’ monounsaturated fatty acid content, studies have shown that avocados can help lower cholesterol. A 2015 study by the American Heart Association showed that an avocado a day was an extremely powerful tool in the reduction of bad cholesterol. “This, in turn, makes avocados heart healthy,” says Alyson Greiter, RD, LDN, and Clinical Oncology Dietician at Cancer Treatment Centers of American at Midwestern Regional Center.


9- Good Fats Somewhere along the line fat has gotten a bad rap, and that needs to change! Well, avocados are here to say that we need their fat, good fat that is!  Fats such as monounsaturated fats are shown to reverse insulin resistance and regulate blood sugar levels, avocados and avocado oil are some of the richest sources of monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) in the world! MUFAs are the main dietary form of fat in the Mediterranean Diet, which for decades has been linked to protection against heart disease, cancer, cognitive decline and many other disorders. This is great news for those looking to fight disease or manage chronic conditions such as diabetes.


10- High Fiber Content Avocados contain more soluble fiber than most foods, and help stabilize blood sugar levels, facilitate proper bowel regularity and maintain proper weight control. Fiber also helps reduce cravings and curb hunger. The alligator pear is a great “go to” food for those looking to reach long desired fitness goals and to keep their craving in check!


11- An Avocado a day keeps the Doctor Away Vitamins are everything with it comes to optimum health. With that said, water-soluble vitamins B and C are not stored in your body, and we need them desperately. This means that you need to replenish them every day. Thankfully, avocados are one of the better vitamin C foods and sources of B vitamins out there. Consuming avocados on the regular will help fight against not only the common cold, but infections and even the flu.


12- Anti-inflammatory Agent Inflammation is known to cause a host of diseases in the body such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and even caner.  The avocado’s super powers in fighting inflammation are the phytosterols, carotenoid antioxidants, omega 3 fatty acids and polyhydroxolated fatty alcohols. There are the good guys that help keep the body from becoming inflamed thus preventing scary diseases and promoting sound health. With all the fantastic things an avocado does for our bodies, we can’t stop there. Here are some more fun facts about avocados!


AVOCADO FUN FACTS: 1. Avocados contain the 18 amino acids required to form complete protein that is used more efficiently by the body than are proteins found in meat.


2. Avocados contain more natural fiber than any other fruit, and these high fiber content aids in digestion and total body absorption of nutrients.


3. Healthy fats found in avocados raise “good” cholesterol (HDL) while lowering “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides by 20%.


4. Avocados contain 35% more potassium than a banana does. Potassium is important because it regulates blood pressure.


5. Avocados provide the lutein necessary to protect you from age-related eye degeneration.


6. The anti-inflammatory properties of avocados prevent and/or treat rheumatoid arthritis.


7. Sufficient amounts of oleic acid improve your cardiovascular system and protect against prostate and breast cancer.


8. Vitamin B6 and folic acid control homocysteine levels – high quantities of homocysteine are linked to an in ceases risk of death from heart disease


9.  The avocado 80 varieties, HASS is most popular. They also rank among the lowest of all fruits and veggies for pesticide use.


10. The avocado is also known as “vegetable butter” for its creamy flavor.


11. Avocado stems tell you when they’re ready. If you’re looking for a perfectly ripe avocado at the store, you can easily figure out which ones to buy. Give them a squeeze, and if they feel fairly soft without being overly squishy, inspect the stem area. The area just beneath the stem, if you wiggle or remove it, should be pale green – white means it’s under-ripe, and black or brown means it’s over-ripe.


HOW TO PEEL AN AVOCADO Cut the avocado lengthwise. Hold both halves and twist them in opposite directions until they separate. Remove the seed and cut each of the halves lengthwise into long quarter sections. Using your thumb and index finger, grip the edge of the skin on each quarter and peel it off, the same way you do with a banana skin.

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