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Health Benefits of Avocados

four primary health effects of avocado consumption

The stone fruit with a creamy texture

We briefly touched on a few health benefits of avocados last month in our “Super Healthy Foods to Eat” blog post, but research shows that there’s much more to this stone fruit in terms of its health effects on the body.

The avocado comes in different varieties like Fuerte, Ettinger, and Hass (1). Hass is the most popular variety of avocados, making up about 90% of the avocados consumed worldwide, and is available year-round (2).

Primary health effects according to research

Four primary health effects of avocado consumption were identified through a comprehensive review of clinical trials, observational studies, and biological mechanisms (2).

1) Reduced cardiovascular disease risk in at-risk individuals

2) Supports weight loss and reduces the risk for overweight

3) Improves cognitive function in certain ages and at-risk groups

4) Improves intestinal microbiota in overweight individuals

Reduced cardiovascular disease risk

Consuming avocados can reduce the risk for metabolic syndrome, which includes conditions like high blood pressure, high blood sugar, elevated triglycerides, abdominal fat, and low HDL (good) cholesterol, which lowers the risk of a cardiovascular event (3).

According to research, consuming just two servings of avocados each week can lead to a 16% reduced risk for heart disease as they lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels (4). One serving of avocado is about one-third of a medium-sized avocado or 50 grams (5).

Supports weight loss and reduces the risk for overweight

Studies find that avocado consumption reduces hunger and increases satiety which leads to a reduced risk of being overweight (6). Further, studies find that the monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) in avocados help to protect against abdominal fat accumulation (6).

The food we consume is a primary factor in shaping the intestinal microbiota, and avocados have been found to assist sustained weight loss as the monounsaturated fat and fiber in avocados improve the microbiota (7).

Improves cognitive function

A randomized control trial found that consuming one avocado each day led to increased serum lutein levels which led to improvement in memory and spatial working memory as well as improved sustained attention (8).

Avocados contain healthy fats and micronutrients like oleic acid, vitamins B6, C, and E, as well as carotenoids that support brain health and cognitive function through their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties as they decrease chronic inflammation and oxidative stress (9) (10).

Improves intestinal microbiota

The human gut microbiota is said to contain one hundred trillion microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa that reside within the intestinal tract (11). Many of these microbes produce vitamins, essential amino acids, and short-chain fatty acids like butyrate that benefit the human host (11).

The fiber in avocados travels to the large intestine and feeds (prebiotic) the beneficial bacteria that reside there which improves the diversity of the colon microflora that produce beneficial substances like butyrate that feeds the gut and reduces the risk for chronic disease (11) (12).

These are just a few more reasons to add a health-promoting whole food like avocado to our weekly meal plans!

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