By Katherine Tallichet

Avocados are one of the few fruits that are high in fat, specifically monounsaturated fat, the heart-healthy kind that many dietitians recommend.  Avocado used to be called the alligator pear because of its bumpy outer texture, and while you might love it for its creamy texture; this popular fruit also has surprising benefits.  Here are five health benefits of avocado you should know about.

1. Avocados Fight Inflammation
Inflammation is a driving force behind a number of chronic health problems, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer.  There aren’t many health problems that inflammation doesn’t contribute to.  With inflammation being such a threat to health, avocado is a helpful and healthy addition to the dinner table.  It contains antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties and oleic acid, one of its fatty acids that helps keep inflammation in check.  

2. Good for Eye Health
Vision is important to humans, but eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration rob people of their ability to see clearly.  Sadly, the risk of developing macular degeneration is 30 percent by age 75.  So how can you lower your risk?  A healthy diet, moderate exercise and not smoking are lifestyle habits that may lower the odds; but eating more avocado might give you an edge too.  They contain nutrients called carotenoids that support the health of the retina, the portion of the eye affected by age-related macular degeneration.  What a delicious way to help prevent loss of vision!

3. Beneficial for Weight Control
A cup of avocado contains 10 grams of fiber, giving it the highest fiber content of any fruit.  A study published in Obesity Reviews found consuming more dietary fiber reduced appetite by 5 percent, lowered long-term energy intake by 2.6 percent and reduced body weight by 1.3 percent.  They also contain healthy fats and proteins that reduce sugar cravings.  Avocados are nutrient-dense and packed with antioxidants.  When you’re trying to lose weight eating less can help, but you need to consume more nutrient-dense foods to prevent nutrient deficiencies.  When you combine the satiety benefits of avocados with their high nutrient density, it’s easy to see why they’re a weight loss friendly food.

4. Lower Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
A diet rich in avocados may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.  Despite their high-fat content, studies show that the heart-healthy monounsaturated fats in avocados lower LDL-cholesterol, the type linked with a greater risk of cardiovascular disease.  Studies also show that adding more avocado to the dinner table, especially if you use it as a replacement for starchy vegetables and processed carbohydrates, may improve insulin sensitivity and how the cells in your body handle glucose.  Since insulin resistance and elevated LDL-cholesterol are both risk factors for cardiovascular disease, you’re doing something good for your heart when you bite into one.

5. Avocados Enhance Nutrient Absorption
One nutritional fact about avocados that many people don’t know is that they boost the absorption of certain nutrients when you eat them with other foods.  The monounsaturated fats in avocado help you absorb more of the beta-carotene, an antioxidant nutrient and precursor to vitamin A, from orange vegetables and leafy greens.  An Ohio State study found that people who ate around 5 ounces of avocado with carrots and tomato sauce absorbed more of the beta-carotene available in these foods.  So add avocado to your next salad for optimal nutrient absorption.

The Bottom Line
Avocados have a creamy texture that makes them irresistible.  They’re a natural for salads, wraps and sandwiches.  You can use avocado as a sandwich spread and replacement for butter. You’ll get heart-healthy monounsaturated fats when you make this substitution, making it a smart and healthy move.

Try cutting an avocado in half, removing the pit and filling the space with fresh chicken or tuna salad. You can even open one up and spoon the inner flesh out with a spoon with a sprinkle of sea salt for added flavor.  You’ll find many uses for the versatile avocado and you can rest assured that you’re getting lots of great benefits. 

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