Avocados are called a superfood — and with good reason. While they’re a delicious dietary staple for millions, many studies find they may carry powerful health benefits as well.
The nutrient-packed fruit is good for the heart, helps lower cholesterol, can contribute to weight loss, and even boost the brain. But don’t take our word for it — over the years, plenty of studies have been published on StudyFinds demonstrating exactly how avocados are good for you.
So we’ve compiled this list of five health benefits of avocados, as proven by scientists! Bon appétit!
An avocado a day keeps poor gut health away
Scientists report that avocados have a positive effect on gut health. A study suggests that adding avocado to just one meal a day can improve the diversity of microbes in the gut and the healthy substances they create.
The study examined 163 adults between 25 and 45 years old who all fall into the category of overweight or obese. Each person had one meal a day replaced at either breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Part of the group had avocado with this test meal, while a control group had a similar meal that didn’t include avocado.
Results reveal that although avocados are rich in fat, and participants eating the fruit consumed more calories, they also excreted more fat than the control group. Greater fat excretion means the participants were absorbing less energy from the foods that they were eating.
The study adds avocados are high in dietary fiber and monounsaturated fat. The monounsaturated fat of an avocado is a heart-healthy variety. Also discovering that eating the fruit daily creates a greater number of gut microbes which break down fiber. These microbes also support gut health.
An avocado a day also keeps bad cholesterol at bay
Incorporating an avocado into daily diet helps in lowering bad cholesterol levels in the body, according to a Penn State study. Bad cholesterol (LDL) narrows arteries, restricting the flow of blood throughout the body.
The study gathered 45 adult subjects, all of whom were either overweight or obese. Each adult followed an initial two-week “run-in” diet designed to follow a typical American diet. Assigned in three random separate diets within five weeks: a low-fat diet, a moderate-fat diet, and a moderate-fat diet that included one avocado per day.
Researchers found that people on the avocado diet had fewer oxidized LDL particles. They also had more lutein, which may be the bioactive that’s protecting the LDL from being oxidized.
Daily consumption strengthens eyes, brain
The study followed 40 healthy adults aged 50 and over who ate one fresh avocado per day for six months. Study participants in a control group ate either a medium potato or a cup of chickpeas in place of the avocado. While providing the same calories, the control foods have little lutein or monounsaturated fats.
Results find a 25% increase in lutein in the eyes of those eating a whole avocado each day. Participants also showed better results on cognition tests measuring memory, processing speed and attention levels than those in the control group. This suggests that lutein levels in the eye are more than doubled in subjects that consumed fresh avocados, compared to a supplement.
Avocado seed husks contain disease-fighting compounds
An avocado’s seed husks could contain a “gold mine” of compounds useful for treating a plethora of debilitating diseases. What’s more, they may even enhance the effectiveness of cosmetics, perfumes, and other consumer goods.
In the study, 300 dried avocado seed husks were ground into 21 ounces of powder. Further processing produced about three teaspoons of seed husk oil and a little more than one ounce of seed husk wax. Researchers found 116 compounds in the oil and 16 in the wax. These medicinal compounds can be used to treat cancer, heart disease and other conditions.
Scientists also discovered the husks contain behenyl alcohol (also called docosanol), an important ingredient in many anti-viral medications; heptacosane, which is being tested for its ability to inhibit the growth of tumor cells; and dodecanoic acid which has been shown to increase the levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) which can help prevent plaque buildup in arteries.
Moreover, the compounds found in the wax can be used in everything from cosmetics to shower curtains to food additives. Also looking for potential source of chemicals used in plastics and other industrial products.
Avocado could aid in leukemia treatment
Canadian scientists say a compound discovered in avocados may open the door for better leukemia treatments. More specifically, this compound appears to target and attack an enzyme that can be critical to cancer cell growth.
The study focused on acute myeloid leukemia (AML), which doctors call the most dangerous variety of blood cancer. Most people diagnosed with AML are over 65 years-old and only about 10 percent survive for five years post-diagnosis. Importantly, leukemia cells house large amounts of an enzyme called VLCAD that helps with metabolic processes.
In the attempt of testing various nutraceutical compounds to find any substance capable of fighting VLCAD, the best one was derived from avocado.
Right now, about half of all older AML patients enter palliative care. Others opt for chemotherapy, but that often does more harm than good. Thus, there’s been a drive to find less toxic drugs that can be used.
Perhaps the best part about avocados is they’re great when eaten on sandwiches, burgers, salads, fish and poultry, or even by themselves. So have at it! Enjoy more avocados and all the health benefits that they come with!