Avocados contain a variety of essential nutrients and important phytochemicals that are beneficial to health. Although the official avocado serving size is 30 g, the average quantity consumed at one time is about half a small avocado.
Avocados consist of 71% monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), 13% polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), and 16% saturated fatty acids (SFAs). It’s high ‘healthy fat’ content promotes healthy blood lipid profiles and enhances the bioavailability and absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) and phytochemicals from the avocado. Diets that contain moderate amounts of MUFAs are known to decrease the risk of developing heart disease. A number of studies and clinical trials have been conducted to investigate the potential benefits of avocados in promoting cardiovascular health. In some of these studies, hypercholesterolemic subjects that consumed avocado-enriched diets showed improved blood lipid profiles (lower LDL-cholesterol levels and triglycerides, and higher HDL-cholesterol levels) compared with high carbohydrate diets or other diets without avocado.
Dietary fibre makes up 80% of the carbohydrate content of avocados, of which 70% is insoluble and 30% is soluble fibre. Moderate avocado consumption, as part of a healthy diet, can help one achieve the recommended minimum daily intake of fibre, promoting gut health and bowel function. Compared to other fruits (yes, avocado is actually a fruit) avocados contain very little sugar (0.7 g/100 g) and the GI of avocados is thus almost 0.
Avocados are unique in that they contain a significant amount of both antioxidant vitamins, C and E. Both of these vitamins may play a role in contributing to vascular and heart health through preventing the oxidation of LDL-cholesterol in the bloodstream, minimising oxidative damage and inflammation, and arterial plaque stabilisation. Avocados contain high amounts of vitamin K, which plays a very important role as a coenzyme in blood coagulation and bone metabolism. Avocados are the richest known fruit source of beneficial phytosterols, which may play a role in enhancing cardiovascular health and reducing chronic disease risk. Other phytonutrients, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, play a role in promoting eye health and beautiful glowing skin.
In terms of harvesting, processing, and retail, avocados are a farm-to-shelf food that requires no additional processing or preservatives. Avocados are covered with a tough outer skin that eliminates the need to package them whilst protecting the edible flesh from contamination, provided that they are transported and handled with care.
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