- Nirusha Pahladi ANutr
THE NUTRITION OF AVOCADO
The avocado fruit (Persea americana) is a fruit that is rich in dietary fibre and MUFAs (monounsaturated fatty acids), 2 nutrients that are beneficial for metabolic health. Avocados are also a good source of nutrients including potassium K and Magnesium Mg, as well as phytochemicals. Studies showed that greater consumption of avocados were significantly associated with a lower body weight. Hence, Avocados may be incorporated into an eating pattern that may also be beneficial in weight management. To further more advantage in regards to avocado consumption, research from American Society for Nutrition stated, “An avocado a day may help to lower risk of cardiovascular disease”.
Avocados are a nutrient-dense source of monounsaturated fatty acids and are rich in antioxidants. They help to decrease levels of LDL particles (Low density lipoproteins); such particles are also called bad cholesterol, they are susceptible to oxidation, and are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Another supporting study suggested that a higher intake of avocados (more than 2 servings/week) was associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease. Thus studies suggest avocados are a good replacement of margarine, butter, egg, cheese, or processed meats to lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
With supporting studies, when the avocado fruit ripens, the saturated fat decreases and the monounsaturated oleic acid (good fat) increases. Avocados can be consumed whole (without the skin and pit), as an addition to a salad plate; Avocado can also be consumed as a guacamole or a spread alternative to more traditional option. Contemporary cuisine also uses avocados as oil "avocado oil", sometimes as an alternative to olive oil for salads dressing. Avocado fruit carbohydrates are composed of about 80% dietary fibre, consisting of 70% insoluble and 30% soluble fibre. Thus, moderate avocado consumption can help to achieve an adequate intake of dietary fibre as one average size avocado contains around 9g fibre.
Avocados are one of the few foods that contain significant levels of both vitamins C and E. Vitamin C plays an important role in recycling vitamin E to maintain circulatory antioxidant protection such as potentially slowing the rate of LDL-cholesterol oxidation. Evidence suggests that vitamin C may contribute to vascular health and arterial plaque stabilization.
Vitamin K1 functions as a coenzyme during synthesis of the biologically active form of a number of proteins involved in blood coagulation and bone metabolism. The amount of vitamin K1 found in avocados is 6.3 μg and 14.3 μg per 30 g and one-half fruit, respectively.
Table adapted from Dreher and Davenport (2013).