The avocado or alligator pear (Persea americana), a fruit with a large berry containing a single seed is believed to have originated in Mexico around 10,000BC. First written about in Europe around 1500 with the first English written record in a 1696 index of Jamaican plants. Introduced to Indonesia in 1750, Brazil in 1809, South Africa and Australia in the late 1800s, and the Levant in 1908.
Nutrition: Rich in polyphenolic compounds, flavonoids, and alkaloids (antioxidants). Very high in potassium, rich in phosphorus and magnesium, contains calcium, sodium and traces of iron and zinc. Vitamins: highest in C, followed by E, B3, B6, B2, B1, folate with traces of K, A. Particularly rich in carotenoids (zeaxanthin, alpha-carotene, beta-carotene) and lutein. High in monounsaturated fatty acids, which help the carotenoids to be absorbed into the bloodstream, some unsaturated fatty acids, no cholesterol.
Anti-Cancer: due to high content and combination of bioactive phytochemicals with potential chemo-preventive activity, including carotenoids; possible cancer prevention and inhibition of cancer cell growth.
Anti-Inflammatory: avocado oil decreased C-Reactive-Protein (CRP) levels, indicating partial reversal of inflammatory processes.
Anti-Oxidant: due to flavonoids, carotenoids and avocado-soybean unsaponifiable (ASU). Neuroprotective in brain injured rats.
Cardiovascular: due to anti-inflammatory and anti-cholesterol properties, the pulp has reported cardiovascular health benefits. Avocado seeds may be useful in the treatment of hypertension; avocados have beneficial effects on cardio-metabolic risk factors extending beyond their heart-healthy fatty acid profile.
Cholesterol: lowering effects due to antioxidant activity of phenolic compounds and dietary fibre in Avocado Seed Flour (ASF). High lipid, high monounsaturated fatty acids (MFA) avocado enriched diet can improve lipid profile in healthy and especially in mild hypercholesterolemic patients, even if combined hyperlipidemia is present. Avocado oil reduces total glycerides (TG), low and very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL, and LDL) levels, in the LDL case significantly so, without affecting HDL levels.
Collagen: anti-inflammatory and collagenolytic action of ASU has place in treating inflammatory connective tissue gynaecological conditions, with favourable results particularly in post-inflammatory and post-infective conditions and pelvic scarring.
Diabetes: avocado consumption is associated with improved overall diet quality, nutrient intake, and reduced risk of metabolic syndrome, evidenced by decreased CRP. Partial replacement of complex digestible carbohydrates with monounsaturated fatty acids (avocado) in the diet of patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus improves the lipid profile favourably, maintains an adequate glycemic control, and offers a good management alternative.
Osteoarthritis: beneficial effects due to anti-inflammatory properties and ASU; cartilage protective, 3 year treatment suggested structural benefits on arthritic hip, further studies needed.
Skin: ASU effective in rat wound healing. Topical use of avocado oil can promote increased collagen synthesis and decreased numbers of inflammatory cells during wound-healing process and may be considered a new option for treating skin wounds. Studies of a recently developed vitamin B12 cream containing avocado oil has considerable potential as a well-tolerated, long-term topical therapy of psoriasis.
Weight: studies suggest an appetite depressant in avocado and that avocado pulp interferes with hepatic fat metabolism. Eating 200 g of avocado per day within an energy-restricted diet does not compromise weight loss when substituted for 30 g of mixed dietary fat.
Adding Avocado to your Diet:
- Cut in half and twist to expose and remove pip, eat raw!
- Slice crossways, scoop out with a large spoon, turn out on plate, press down to spread slices; serve with smoked salmon
- Mash with a fork and spread on rye toast; add to salads and smoothies
- Avocado Ritz: stuff with prawns and mayonnaise or salsa sauce, garnish with salad leaves
- Guacamole: mash and add garlic, chopped onions, chilli, lemon juice, cayenne pepper and pepper; tomatoes
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