The Long-Term Health Benefits of Eating More Avocado

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Before the avocado toast phenomenon, most of us got our avo fix from an order of guacamole and chips or from a couple slices topped on our scrambled eggs. People weren’t excited about avocados until awareness of their powerful health benefits met beautiful avo toast aesthetics to bring them into the mainstream. Avocados became tied to the wellness movement that was starting to reject a Western diet made up of heavily processed foods. There is no doubt of their popularity now, in 2020 the US imported 2.1 billion pounds of avocados!

 

You might have started eating more avocados when you learned about all the healthy fats and fiber they boast. Or, you might have jumped on the avocado bandwagon for the incredible skin health benefits. The takeaway? …The more we learn about the nutritional benefits of our foods, the more appealing they seem to become!

 

Avocado might be my favorite plant-based food because of all the ways it can be used in recipes. From tasty sauces to rich dressings and creamy spreads, I eat an avocado almost every day if I can. In my Instagram LIVE with Dr. Perlmutter, I shared an easy and delicious recipe for truffle guacamole and crispy baked veggie chips. This recipe encourages eating the rainbow while also getting in healthy fats and fiber to boost brain and gut health.

 

Paired with a balanced diet, exercise, reduced stress levels, and adequate water intake, avocado nutrients can work magic in your body. Below is a dive into the research on the health benefits of the avocado.

 

AVOCADO SUPERSTAR BENEFITS

  1. Decrease Risk of Cancer

Avocados contain carotenoids, phytochemicals widely known for playing an important role in cancer prevention. There are about 100 carotenoids naturally occurring in our fruits and vegetables, giving them their orange, red, and yellow colors. The antioxidant and pro-oxidant qualities of these compounds have also led to their frequent use in supplements.

Certain individual phytochemicals, like carotenoids, as well as combinations of them are being studied as dietary strategies for cancer prevention. Because your body also needs fat to absorb carotenoids, avocados are one of the most bioavailable sources.

This being said, there has been conflicting evidence over the past several years on whether or not avocados can support cancer prevention and treatment. One 2022 study found that regular avocado consumption decreased the risk for certain cancers, namely lung, colorectal, and bladder cancers. The study also found that avocado consumption may or may not increase breast cancer risk.

There is also promising evidence that avocado consumption can support leukemia and early prostate cancer treatment.

 

  1. Balance Sodium Levels

Avocados contain significant levels of potassium – a half of an avocado contains about 14 percent of the daily adequate intake for men and about 18 percent for an adult woman. This mineral is important for heart health, muscle contractions, nerve impulses, digestion, and more! Potassium is also an important electrolyte that helps balance out sodium in your blood. In contrast, having high levels of sodium is associated with heart disease, stroke, kidney issues, bone loss, and muscle and nerve dysfunction.

 

  1. Reduce Risk of Heart Disease

Avocados protect your heart and help you maintain a healthy weight. Studies from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey provide substantial data showing that people who ate avocados had higher levels of good cholesterol, decreased risk of metabolic syndrome, and a lower BMI. The nutrients in avocados that contribute to heart health are dietary fiber, potassium, antioxidants, B vitamins, and carotenoids.

Many studies show that adding avocado to your diet has a positive effect on blood lipids. Maintaining low levels of LDL keeps your arteries healthy and helps prevent heart disease. From phytosterols, to healthy monounsaturated fats, and phytochemicals, avocados contain many compounds that can help protect your heart.

 

  1. Protect the Brain

Avocados have also been deemed a brain health food. Because of a high content of phytochemicals and antioxidants, avocados have incredible neuroprotective qualities. Oxidative stress and the damage it does to brain cells (i.e., confusing neuron signaling and neuronal death) has been found to be a root cause of many neurological diseases and conditions. Hang on to those healthy brain cells by including foods, like avocado, that are rich in phytonutrients. Many phytochemicals are being studied for their pivotal role in preventing neurodegenerative diseases and reversing aging.

BONUS: Avocados also contain magnesium, an important nutrient in reducing stress. Chronic stress has been linked to  degenerative brain diseases.

 

  1. Contribute to Healthy Skin

Want to get that extra “glow”?! Avocado is one of the skin health superfoods to add to your plate.  To start, research demonstrates that eating avocados can help with skin firmness and elasticity.  Additionally, avocados contain antioxidants vitamin C and E that are known to support skin hydration, collagen production and protect against UV damage.

On the surface, the natural oils from healthy fats penetrate your skin to nourish, soften, and hydrate. Avocados can even be applied directly to the skin with a homemade face mask!

The beauty benefits don’t stop there! Avocados not only have ingredients that protect and improve skin health, they are also known to have benefits when it comes to hair and nail health. This superstar fruit contains vitamin C, biotin, and other B vitamins that support hair and nail growth and fight against hair loss and brittle hair or nails. Try an avocado hair mask! Mash up two avocados and massage the green goodness into your hair for an extra shine. Let the mixture sit for 20 minutes, then wash it out with a shampoo free of sulfates in the shower.

 

  1. Reverse Insulin Resistance

Keeping your blood sugar levels balanced is essential to achieving great health. Insulin resistance is a condition associated with pre-diabetes, it can be reversed with regular exercise, reduced stress levels, increased fiber intake, minimal amounts of processed food and carbohydrates, and choosing foods with a low glycemic index. According to a study published by The Journal of Ethnic Foods, avocados have a glycemic index of about 40. Recent research in mice shows promising evidence that compounds in avocados and avocado oil can help combat insulin resistance and obesity.

 

  1. Boost Immune Function

Keep your immune system strong with avocado’s star antioxidant, glutathione! This powerful antioxidant fights oxidative stress, which can lead to reduced immune function along with many other issues in your body. Though your body produces glutathione, it is not rare to have low levels of this antioxidant due to toxins in the environment, poor nutrition, stress, or just the fact that levels often decline with age. Because of its crucial mitochondria-protecting, master-detoxifying role in T cell function and stimulating the production of natural killer cells, you may want to add dietary sources of glutathione. Avocados are a bioavailable source containing more dietary glutathione than most fruit!

 

  1. Support Healthy Pregnancies

Folate is an essential nutrient for pregnant women as it helps prevent neural tube defects. This vital B vitamin is important for everyone though! It plays a significant role in the creation of red blood cells, DNA synthesis and repair, and other vital cellular functions. Half of an avocado provides about 15 percent of the daily recommended folate for adult women and men (it is recommended that pregnant and lactating women consume more folate). You can learn more about folate vs. folic acid and the natural sources of this B vitamin here.

 

  1. Create a Diverse Gut Microbiome

Avocados are a great natural source of prebiotics and are full of gut-healthy nutrients such as dietary fiber, magnesium, folate, potassium, and vitamins C, E, and K. From helping with digestion, to reducing inflammation and gas, avocados promote a diverse microbiome. This diverse, strong and healthy microbiome is important, because gut health affects crucial systems such as brain health, hormonal balance, and immune function.

In my Culinary Alchemy® methodology, I include avocados in my list of foods that help balance the heart chakra. Blockages in this chakra manifest in your body physically and emotionally. Physically, an imbalance in the heart chakra might manifest as heart and lung issues such as chest pains, high or low blood pressure, heart palpitations, poor immune function, or asthma. Emotionally, it could show up as struggles with developing and keeping healthy relationships, as the chakra is associated with compassion, joy, jealousy, forgiveness, intimacy, and love. When you are physically and emotionally in alignment, all of these feelings will seem to flow naturally. Along with other wellness protocols, eating green-colored foods helps to realign your heart chakra and alleviate the symptoms. Avocado is a powerful ingredient for opening up the flow of energy in your body.

 

Aside from these amazing benefits, avocados are also delicious. Long-live avocado toast!

 

XO – Serena

 

~ SOURCES ~

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36490225/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33720355/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3545982/

https://www.psu.edu/news/research/story/daily-avocados-improve-diet-quality-help-lower-cholesterol-levels/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27651262/

https://connect.uclahealth.org/2022/01/26/eating-an-avocado-daily-increases-elasticity-and-firmness-in-skin-study-shows/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7827176/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5579659/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5582478/

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/mnfr.201900688

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1074761317301292

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32805028/  

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This content is strictly the opinion of Chef Serena Poon and is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Serena nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.

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