So avocados are one of those tricky little buggers like coconut and tomato…are they fruits, are they nuts or are the veggies? Whatever the correct answer is, it always leaves you feeling a little indignant and slightly queasy…like when someone drops a stink bomb in the shopping aisle and you happen to walk through it.
So this is going to blow your mind…avocado is:
- a fruit (okay not that mind-blowing); and
- it’s a frikkin’ BERRY?! (bone fide mind-blowing…notwithstanding the fact that they’re called avocado pears; when do you ever take botanists literally, man?)
Avocados are native to South America…so you can think of it as a Conquistador’s berry, since the Spanish are alleged to have discovered it. However, we’re pretty certain that avocados didn’t spontaneously appear when the first Spaniard set foot on the continent…unless one of the locals sling-shot (slang-shot? slung-shot? sling-shat?) that sneaky berry at Conquistador Fuerte’s head? Avocado has, in fact, been documented as a delicacy of the ancient Inca, Aztec and Mayan civilisations.
The Skinny on Avocados
You needn’t shy away from avocados because of their fat content; you need to stop looking at fat for fat’s sake buddie, and look at the composition and function of the fat you’re eating instead. Like coconut, avocados are said to actually improve weight-loss because of their ability to satisfy hunger and speed-up your metabolism.
You get various varieties of avocados:
Here are some of avocados’ best attributes:
- Kicks Cholesterol to the Curb: Avocados are high in monounsaturated fats and beta-sitosterol…so they raise the levels of “good” cholesterol in your arteries while “paring” down (ha, get it?) bad triglycerides. Beta-sitosterol is a beneficial fat, derived from plants, that competes with cholesterol for absorption by your body. Lucky for you, when faced with the choice between cholesterol and beta-sitosterol, your genius body preferentially absorbs the latter. The result is that the amount of cholesterol in your system is reduced. Beta-sitosterol may also play a role in preventing the spread of cancer cells, since it appears to inhibit excessive cell division.
- Good for Your Brain, Eyes and Heart: Avocados contain lecithin, a fat which is credited with making that brain of yours function beautifully. Avocados also contain lutein, an antioxidant which has been shown to ward off eye issues and cardiovascular disease.
- Boosts Your Immune System: The vitamin E in avocados acts as an antioxidant to boost your body’s immune system and slow down the ageing process. It also makes your skin oh-so soft and supple.
- Peaceful Sleep: Avocados contain tryptophan, an awesome substance that your body converts into serotonin in order to promote, among other things, peaceful sleep. A bonus of tryptophan is that it may help with depression and anxiety. So when you’re feeling down, reach for the banana before you reach for the bourbon.
- Delivers Happiness…and Babies: Avocados are high in folates, water-soluble B-vitamins that help to convert tryptophan into serotonin (the happy drug). Folates are great for reproductive health…so if you’re got a little gangsta’ on the way, yummy down on avocados, mamma! Avocados also have 60% more potassium than bananas, and the potassium ninja-kicks fatigue and depression from your system while decreasing your risk of strokes and heart disease.
- Alkaline: an alkaline food which serves to ensure that your body is functioning at your optimal pHat level which you can read more of here, here and here.
- Healthy Blood and Bones: Avocados are higher in magnesium than bananas or kiwis, who knew? Now you do! Magnesium and potassium are vital for maintaining healthy blood pressure. Magnesium also looks after your bones and can prevent migraines, while potassium is important for maintaining your sexy, toned muscles.
- Not Self-Absorbed: Studies have found that adding half an avocado to carrots, lettuce and spinach in salads, boosts your body’s ability to absorb the nutrients from these food items. Keep in mind that there’s not much sense in eating good food if you don’t absorb the nutrients properly. As it turns out, avocado isn’t self-absorbed at all and actually puts your needs first by facilitating the absorption of other nutrients!
- Anti-Inflammatory: Avocado is high in Omega-6 fatty acid, otherwise known as linoleic acid, which minimises inflammation and improves the consistency and sugar balance of your blood. Even better, avocados also contain oleic acid which is the building block for omega-9 fatty acids, which are anti-inflammatory and awesome for your skin.
- Mad Energy: Avocados contain about half the recommended daily allowance of vitamin B6 which is vital for enabling the release of energy from the food that you eat. It also contains a whole pimping suite of other B vitamins which are important for boosting and maintaining your body’s immune system.
- Source of Protein: Who would have guessed that Avocados contain the most protein out of all of their fruity amigos…so they’re great for when you’re training and you want to build up stamina and strength!
- As Good as Olive Oil: Studies have shown that avocado oil possess many of the same anti-ageing and anti-inflammatory properties that have been attributed to olive oil. So give avocado oil a chance, yo!
- Carotenoid Absorption from Salad and Salsa by Humans Is Enhanced by the Addition of Avocado or Avocado Oil by Nuray Z. Unlu, Torsten Bohn, Steven K. Clinton, and Steven J. Schwartz. J.
- Hass Avocado Composition and Potential Health Effects by Mark L. Dreherand Adrienne J. Davenport. Available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3664913