Super Inside and Out

Avocados work miracles for our bodies in so many ways. You probably have already heard they are the "good kind of fat" but here's a list of other things it can do for you and it's not just on the inside.

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Avocados are one of the healthiest foods on the planet. They are also probably one of the least understood foods because they are so unique in their nutrient density of healthy fats, fiber and minerals.

Americans seem unsure how to use them so they typically put them in salads, sandwiches and guacamole dip. Granted, avocados are a fantastic addition to these dishes, but in many countries, they are regularly used in desserts. Their mild flavor, texture and creamy consistency is a fantastic accompaniment to many treats like chocolate mousse!

Avocados are truly a superfood and are jam-packed with an alphabet of nutrients including the fat-soluble vitamins A, B, C, E, and K. Our bodies not only require these vitamins to function properly, they work together with essential minerals (such as magnesium and zinc) and metabolic factors (such as carbon dioxide and thyroid hormone) in such a delicate way that it is a reminder that we should eat more nutrient-dense foods like avocados. And water-soluble vitamins are not stored in your body. This means that you need to replenish them every day so avocados should be on your plate as often as possible.

Minerals such as magnesium, potassium, iron and copper are also plentiful in our green friends. One interesting fact many people are unaware of is that you would need to eat two to three bananas to meet the potassium content in just one avocado.

Avocados contain more soluble fiber than most foods and help stabilize blood sugar levels, facilitate proper bowel regularity and maintain proper weight control.

Avocados have the highest protein and lowest sugar content of any fruit, and they offer a unique balance to building lean muscle mass and burning fat. Phytochemicals such as beta-sitosterol, glutathione and lutein are there as well to help protect against various diseases like macular degeneration and cataracts

Avocados contain significant amounts of folate which help prevent certain birth defects like spinal bifida and neural tube defects; research has even suggested that folate-rich foods can prevent stroke.

Researchers are discovering more and more phytonutrients in fresh fruit and vegetables and their miracle working properties. Avocados are rich in anti-inflammatory phytonutrients which reduce the risk of degenerative disorders that can affect every part of the body including joints, internal organ systems, skin and connective tissue.

Several studies have surfaced recently touting avocado’s cancer-killing prowess. The journal Nutrition and Cancer published the results of a study, for instance, claiming that the phytochemicals in avocados are so powerful that they could prevent the use of chemotherapy in people with oral cancer!

Researchers from Ohio State University are taking this theory one step further and are trying to figure out exactly why this phenomenon is happening. A preliminary study published in 2011 suggests that the specific phytonutrient combination within each avocado may hold the key to its anti-cancer effects.

The monounsaturated fats in avocados are shown to reverse insulin resistance and regulate blood sugar levels. These fats also promote heart health by balancing blood lipids because of its fatty acid composition (71% monounsaturated fatty acids, 13% polyunsaturated fatty acids, and 16% saturated fatty acids).

Thankfully, after years of being forgotten, there is a growing body of clinical studies that explain why avocado consumption is so important to maintain cardiovascular health. For example, researchers from Mexico administered an avocado-enriched diet to healthy volunteers and people with high cholesterol and compared how they fared compared to a group that did not eat avocados.

After just one week, it was discovered that when healthy people with normal lipid levels ate avocados their total cholesterol levels dropped 16%. The results for the high cholesterol group were even more profound. Not only did total cholesterol drop 17%, so did their LDL’s (22%), triglycerides (22%) and their HDL’s even rose 11%!

Eating avocados has been found to be clinically associated with lower metabolic syndrome in U.S. adults. Known as a cluster of conditions that increase your risk of developing heart disease, stroke and diabetes, some of the conditions that avocados have been observed to help with include hypertension, high blood sugar and excess body fat around the waist. Essentially, they help regulate hormones key to these risk factors.

Interestingly, up until the Nutrition Journal published the results of a survey from 2001-2008 last year, no epidemiological data has existed describing the effects avocado consumption has on metabolic disease risk factors. Thankfully, we now have a considerable amount of proof that avocados support healing! After evaluating the eating habits of 17,567 U.S. adults, researchers discovered some interesting facts:

People who regularly eat avocados also eat more balanced diet than non-avocado consumers. In fact, Avocado consumers had significantly higher intakes of vegetables; fruit, diet quality, total fat, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, dietary fiber, vitamins E, K, magnesium, and potassium; vitamin K, and lower intakes of added sugars. BMI, body weight, and waist circumference were “significantly lower” and HDL levels were higher in people who regularly eat avocados. In all, the researchers discovered that avocado consumers were 50% less likely to develop metabolic syndrome than people who don’t eat them!

But avocados don’t just work miracles on the inside. They can do wonders for another important organ of the body—the skin. Yes, the skin is classified as an organ because it performs so many functions to maintain our lives.

Rich in fat-soluble vitamins and monounsaturated fats, avocados are fantastic for glowing skin when eaten or used topically. Truth be told: avocados may be nature’s best moisturizer! To promote a healthy, shining complexion, simply rub the inside of an avocado peel on your skin and use avocado oil as your primary moisturizer. Mix in some therapeutic essential oils and you can easily make a cost-effective lotion instead of pouring out money for that store-bought stuff filled with chemicals!

-- Produce Buzz Staff

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