NUTRITION CORNER: Avocado, a super food with extraordinary health benefits

Although avocado contains nearly 20 vitamins, minerals and plant compounds that contribute to the nutritional quality of our diet, many people fear it as a forbidden fruit. This is due to some misconceptions about eating this nutritious fruits, says Bob Bergh, Ph.D., Department of Botany and Plant Sciences at the University of California.

A 1992 study entitled “The Avocado and Human Nutrition, Some Human Health Aspects of the Avocado” showed that this overlooked fruit has more potassium than strawberries, oranges, carrots, and summer squash and as much vitamin B6 as a banana. Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is important for a healthy nervous system, red blood cells, teeth and gums.

Avocado contains high beneficial monounsaturated fats. An article in the November 25, 2005  issue of the Journal of American Medical Association confirmed that monounsaturated fatty acids, particularly oleic acid, helps in protection against heart disease, because it has the ability to lower blood cholesterol levels.  Monounsaturated fats can also speed up the body’s basal metabolic rate, thus helping overweight individuals lose weight rapidly.

The fruit is packed  with a rich supply of vitamins –  to mention a few, thiamine and riboflavin – and minerals that are ideal for the overall health of someone trying to lose weight. Thiamine helps fuel the body by converting blood sugar into energy, and riboflavin helps in the repair and regeneration of body tissues.

Avocado provides vitamins C, E and beta-carotene, three potent anti-oxidants that can fight cancer, cataracts and aging.

It is a rich source of minerals like copper, magnesium, manganese and iron. Magnesium strengthens our bones, while iron and copper are needed in red blood cells production.

Hirokazu Kawagishi, professor of applied biological chemistry at Shizuoka University in Japan, reported that “besides offering taste and nutrition, avocados seem to improve liver health”.

The university researchers fed avocado and 22 other fruits to rats that were injected with D-galactosamine, a substance that causes liver damage and results in cell death. The rats fed with avocado had the least liver damage.#