Avocados have been regarded as the most nutrients packed food on the planet. It also has the spotlight as a global superfood. Interestingly, many have linked the colour of avocados in Ghana to increase cholesterol and weight. However, this assertion is wrong! Studies have confirmed that avocados contain a hearty dose of important nutrients, such as fiber, good fats, potassium, and vitamin K. That’s why there are several avocado benefits, with research suggesting that avocados could help enhance heart health, boost weight loss and keep your digestive tract running smoothly.
Though, others regard them as fruit and vegetables. The avocado tree, also known as Persea americana, is a member of the laurel family(Bhuyan et al. 2019). Different types of avocados are found, the Hass avocado is the most popular variety, but there are several other less-common kinds available as well, including Bacon, Lula, Pinkerton, Fuerte, and Gwen avocados.
Avocados: Nutritional profile
136 grams of avocado contains approximately:
11.8 grams carbohydrates
2.7 grams protein
21 grams fat
9.2 grams fiber
28.6 micrograms vitamin K (36 percent DV)
121 micrograms folate (30 percent DV)
12 milligrams vitamin C (20 percent DV)
0.4 milligrams vitamin B6 (20 percent DV)
2 milligrams pantothenic acid (20 percent DV)
689 milligrams potassium (20 percent DV)
2.7 milligrams vitamin E (13 percent DV)
2.6 milligrams niacin (13 percent DV)
0.2 milligrams copper (12 percent DV)
0.2 milligrams riboflavin (11 percent DV)
39.4 milligrams magnesium (10 percent DV)
0.2 milligrams manganese (10 percent DV)
0.1 milligram thiamine (7 percent DV)
73.4 milligrams phosphorus (7 percent DV)
0.9 milligrams zinc (6 percent DV)
0.8 milligrams iron (5 percent DV)
200 international units vitamin A (4 percent DV)
In addition, this fruit also contains some omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids, choline, betaine, calcium, and selenium. As espoused above, Bird et al.(2017) found that avocados are loaded with diverse nutrients which are absent in our modern-day diets such as magnesium, B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, and folate. For instance, half of an avocado contains 10% of the daily value (DV) for potassium. Potassium is important for hypertensive patients. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December (2015) regards potassium as a “nutrient of public health concern” as most Americans do not have enough of it.
The modern-day diet is deficient in Potassium. A case in point is linked to a study(Bailey et al. 2015) that involved 4,730 U.S. adults and revealed that less than 3% had potassium consumption more than the set adequate intake for potassium of 4,700 mg per day.
Two studies( Vinceti et al. 2016; Burnier, M, 2019) agreed that Potassium is useful to help deal with many important bodily functions, such as blood pressure regulation and nervous system function. Hence, they found that consuming the right amount of potassium daily could avert hypertension and stroke. Vitamins such as C, B6, and E are also found in avocados to improve our immune health( Kumrungsee et al. 2020; Lewis et al. 2019).
For B6, about half of an avocado can give 15% of the daily needs. B6 helps suppress inflammation and protect against oxidative damage. This means that a low level of B6 consumption could adversely affect our immune function and increase susceptibility to illness (Kumrungsee et al. 2020; Qian et al. 2017; Stach et al. 2021). The abundance of B6 in avocados could help improve our health.
Avocado: supporting literature
Prevents the growth of cancer cell
One old in vitro study(Ding et al. 2009) showed that the phytochemicals in avocados are so powerful that they could help kill off oral cancer cells. This was investigated in a preliminary study(D’Ambrosio et al. 2011) and found that the specific phytonutrient combination found within each avocado may hold the key to its anticancer effects.
Another study(Paul et al. 2011) found that phytochemicals extracted from avocados help induce cell cycle arrest, inhibit growth and promote apoptosis in precancerous and cancer cell lines. Studies also indicate that avocado phytochemicals extracted with 50 percent methanol help in the proliferation of human lymphocyte cells and decrease chromosomal changes.
An older study(Simonsen et al. 1998) found that the monounsaturated fatty acids in avocados are linked to reduced risk for both cancer and diabetes. These monounsaturated fatty acids fight against chronic disease compared to other types of fatty acids because of their ability to lower inflammation. Finally, Sayeed and Ameen (2015) also found that Beta-sitosterol, another compound found in avocados, supports healthy prostate and is linked to better immune function and lower prostate cancer risk.
The US Department of Agriculture found that avocados are high in fiber. The fiber content in each avocado is about 14 grams. This fiber supports the digestive system as it enhances healthy bacteria.
Due to its high fiber content, a recent study(Thompson et al. 2021) in 163 adults overweight people found that those who consumed 175 grams (men) or 140 grams (women) of avocado daily for 12 weeks had lower fecal bile acid concentrations and increased bacterial diversity compared to a control group.
An earlier study(Ocvirk and O’Keefe, 2017) found greater bile acid concentrations induce intestinal inflammation and are linked to the growth of microbes associated with negative health outcomes like colon cancer. The study further found that the avocado group had more of the bacteria Faecalibacterium, Lachnospira, and Alistipes, all of which produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), including butyrate.
Some three studies(Lopez-Siles et al. 2017; Vital et al. 2017; Parker et al. 2020). It has been argued that though the studies were astonishing, the fact that they were sponsored by an organization(Hass Avocado Board) interested in avocados promotion could raise a conflict of interest and influence the study findings.
This notwithstanding, one study(Capuano, E. 2017) agrees that High-fiber foods are significant for those with digestive tract issues because fiber helps shift the balance of bacteria in the gut, raising healthy bacteria while decreasing the unhealthy bacteria that can be the root of some digestive disorders. The study added that fiber also helps add bulk to stool, supports regularity, and helps pull waste and toxins through the intestines and colon.
Link, R(2022) agrees that fats are also essential for digestion and nutrient absorption because they nourish the lining of the gut. A low-fat diet can result in constipation or symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which is a disorder of the gastrointestinal tract characterized by abdominal pain and change in bowel habits.
Avocado, heart support
Studies have confirmed that frequent eating of avocados could protect against heart disease. This contradicts the many perceptions of people who think that the colour or the fat content in avocados, raise cholesterol level and increases our risk of heart disease.
Source: Prof Raphael Obu Nyarkotey