There’s nothing like a perfectly ripe avocado; they’re creamy, versatile and bloody delicious in both savoury and sweet dishes. And while it’s true that avocado is high in fat (about 85 per cent of its calories come from fat), the fats it contains provide a wealth of health benefits! And it’s not just the healthy fats that make this glorious stone fruit so beneficial, they’re packed with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, too. Need more convincing? Here are 5 reasons not to skimp on the guacamole….
Avocados are the perfect food for reducing inflammation in the body; they contain omega 3 fats, polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols (PFAs) and phytosterols which all possess anti-inflammatory properties. In fact phytosterols are such an effective anti-inflammatory that they have even been known to help reduce arthritic pain.
The majority of fat (over half the total fat in avocado) comes in the form of oleic acid – a monounsaturated fat which can also be found in olives. Oleic acid aids the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients like carotenoids and can help reduce our risk of heart disease. Specifically, monounsaturated fats have been shown to reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL) helping to maintain healthy cholesterol.
Avocados help the body to absorb beta-carotene an antioxidant which helps protect the surface of your eye and reduce the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration.
Many of the nutrients found in avocados are great for your skin. Vitamin E is a great example and avocados are high in Vitamin E and a range of carotenoids, which act as nature’s sunscreen, protecting the skin from UV light damage. A study at the University of California has shown the greatest concentration of these nutrients is near the skin of the avocado and the researchers recommend peeling off the skin to ensure you eat the outermost part of the fruit.
Avocados also contain glutathione, an important antioxidant that can help protect our cells from damage. They are also packed with vitamin C, which is involved in the creation of elastin and collagen for maintaining your skin’s elasticity and firmness.
If the winter weather has taken its toll on your skin, leaving it dry and sore, the monounsaturated fats in avocado will reduce skin redness and irritation. They also help maintain moisture levels in the outer layers of your skin to keep it looking plump, soft and glowing. In fact, avocado oil is often added to moisturisers and skin creams.
As they are rich in monounsaturated fat, avocados are a good source of energy for endurance exercise. Fat fills you up, meaning you are less likely to overeat or want to snack. A whole avocado contains approximately 230 calories – providing 3g of protein and 9g of fibre, which helps stabilise blood sugar and keep energy levels high through the day. Avocados are also a great source of electrolytes, particularly potassium – one avocado contains over 35 per cent more potassium than a banana, as well as providing calcium and magnesium, which are crucial for muscle functioning and balance. These electrolytes are often depleted during intense exercise making avocado an ideal sports fuel.
There are loads of great ways to sneak avocados into your diet; from a simple guacamole dip or salsa to smoothies, chocolate puddings and ice creams! If you’re not keen on the flesh, but you’d still like to reap some of the sweet, sweet benefits listed above, we recommend investing in some avocado oil. The oil is light and mixes well with other foods, so it’s perfect in dressings and sauces. Enjoy!