Health Benefits of Avocado and Ways to Use It

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While avocado is most often utilized as a vegetable, it is actually a fruit that grows in tropical and subtropical areas of Mexico, Central and South America. Many of the avocados available in the US are cultivated in Southern California near the Southern border.

Avocado has a somewhat nutty flavor with a hint of olive and is covered by a thick, tough skin ranging from light green to dark purple. In a commercial farm setting, avocados are picked from trees before ripening and must be stored in open air.

Avocado is high in fat (and calories) and may be used as a meat substitute in some dishes and sandwiches when no meat is available or in the diet of vegetarians and vegans. Once ripe, avocado is often served raw, most famously in the popular Mexican dish guacamole.

Despite it’s high fat content, avocado is considered a healthy food choice. The fatty acids it contains are heart healthy monounsaturated fats and a rich source of oleic acid, the same fatty acid found in olives and olive oil. Avocados also contain more potassium than a banana and are an excellent source of vitamins.

Additional health benefits of avocado include:

Vitamins and minerals. Avocado contains vitamins A, C, and B that support neurotransmitter health, making it an excellent food for the nervous system. The calcium and magnesium found in avocado can provide a calming effect and support restorative sleep, also beneficial to the nervous system.

Support heart health. Heart health advantages of avocado include potassium, folic acid and monounsaturated fatty acids that reduce “bad” cholesterol, reducing your risk of heart attack. Avocados also contain vitamin E and glutathione, which have been shown to reduce some types of heart infections and slow down the aging process.

Beneficial fatty acids. Avocado contains seven different fatty acids including Omega 3 and 6. Both are vital to human cell membranes. They also reduce triglycerides, lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of arterial plaques.

Eye health. Avocado is a rich source of lutein, essential for eye health reducing the development of cataracts and macular degeneration. The lutein content of avocados can be especially beneficial to eye health as you age.

Adding Avocado To Your Diet

There are many ways to add avocados to your diet. Slice them and add them to sandwiches, salads or an omelet or scrambled eggs. Add them to your smoothies for added creaminess and a nutrient boost. Puree ripe avocado with a pinch of salt and lemon juice and spread it on toast or wheat crackers. Or make your own simple guacamole by scooping the avocado into a bowl and mashing it with a fork then stir in chopped tomato, onion, garlic. Add a dash of lime juice and salt and pepper and enjoy!

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