Did you know that the avocado has been called the world's most perfect food and has many health benefits? It has achieved the distinction because many nutritionists claim it not only contains everything a person needs to survive – but it has also found to contribute to the prevention and control of Alzheimer's cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other health conditions.
The avocado (Persea gratissima or P. Americana) originated in Puebla, Mexico and its earliest use dates back to 10,000 years B. C. Since AD 900, the avocado tree has been cultivated and grown in Central and South America. In the 19th century, the avocado made its entry into California, and has since become a very successful commercial crop. Ninety-five percent of U.S. avocados are grown in Southern California.
The avocado, also called alligator pear, is a high-fiber, sodium and cholesterol-free food that provides nearly 20 essential nutrients, including fiber, is rich in healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (such as omega-3 fatty acids), vitamins A, C, D, E, K and the B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12 and folate) as well as potassium.
Foods naturally rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as avocados, are widely acknowledged as the secret to a healthy heart, a brilliant brain and eagle eyes.
Dr. Daniel G. Amen, a clinical neuroscientist, psychiatrist, brain –imaging expert and author of the New York Times bestseller "Change Your Brain, Change Your Life" counts avocados as one of the top brain-healthy foods that can help prevent Alzheimer's Disease.
That's not only because of the avocado's health benefits omega-3 fatty acid content, but also its Vitamin E content - An international journal called "Alzheimer's Disease and Associated Disorder", reported its findings from years of clinical trials – high doses of Vitamin E can neutralize free radicals and buildup of proteins to reverse the memory loss in Alzheimer's patients; reverse symptoms of Alzheimer's in the early stages and retard the progression of the disease.
Folate content - helps to prevent the formation of tangled nerve fibers associated with Alzheimer's.
The virtues and benefits of the avocado are too numerous to mention, but here are just a few more avocado health benefits that it s nutritional profile provide:
You can add these avocado benefits to your diet in many ways:
- Monounsaturated Fats – These types of fats help control triglycerides in the bloodstream, lower blood cholesterol and control diabetes
- Folate – This water-soluble B vitamin promotes healthy cell and tissue development. According to the National Institute of Health's Office of Dietary Supplements, "This is especially important during periods of rapid cell division and growth such as infancy and pregnancy. Folate is also essential for metabolism of homocysteine and helps maintain normal levels of this amino acid."
- Lutein - This is a carotenoid (a natural pigment) that protects against cataracts and certain types of cancer, and reduces the risk of macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in adults 65 years of age and older. Avocados contain 3 or more times as much lutein as found in other common vegetables and fruits.
- Oleic acid and Potassium – Both of these nutrients also help in lowering cholesterol and reducing the risk of high blood pressure.
- The easiest way is to cut the avocado in half and sprinkle it with herbal seasoning or maple syrup.
- Chop the avocado and add it to a salad, or use it as a topping or side garnish for soup.
- Mash an avocado and spread it on bread or a bagel (in place of butter or cream cheese).
- Cut an avocado in half and fill the little hollow (left after you remove the pit) with your favorite healthy topping such as herbed rice or couscous.
- Make an avocado dressing or the crowd-pleasing guacamole dip to add flavor to raw or steamed vegetables. You can easily find many avocado recipes online.
Blended with fruit, avocados make a rich and delicious snack, side dish or dessert – and produces highly - nutritious baby food which delivers "good fat" for baby's brain and physical development.
Before you indulge in avocados to your heart's content, however, remember that they have lots of calories because of their fat content. According to WebMD, "A medium-sized avocado contains 30 grams of fat; as much as a quarter-pound burger."
That’s why diet experts have long urged Americans to go easy on avocados in favor of less fatty fruits and vegetables. But now nutritionists are taking another look.
They’re finding that most of the fat in an avocado is monounsaturated – the "good" kind that actually lowers cholesterol levels. Thanks to this new understanding, the U.S. government recently revised its official nutrition guidelines to urge Americans to eat more avocados.