Avocados: A surprise package

Avocados are packed with nutrients that are good for many health concerns. And you thought they are just meant for shampoos!

woman eating avocado saladCommonly known as butter fruit, alligator pear or makhanfal in Hindi, Avocado is a native of tropical America. It has a high fat content that lends it a meat-like texture, making it an excellent substitute for meat in vegetarian cuisines, especially in salads and sandwiches.

Because of its creamy texture and subtle but distinct flavour, avocado pulp is used as a sandwich spread. Its puree is used as a thickener in certain soups. It is also a popular base for dips and fillings. In India, it is mostly used to prepare desserts like milkshakes, sweets and ice creams.

Avocados are great for your health and wellbeing. Here's why:

Fights cancer

Avocados prevent cancers of the mouth, breast and prostrate. The composition of avocado is such that it will only attack the cancer cells, leaving the nearby healthy cells untouched. Certain unique phytonutrients in avocados [especially lutein and vitamin E] help prevent the growth of cancerous cells and even repair damaged cells.

Controls diabetes

Avocados do not contain starch. The sugar present in the fruit is also minimal. Besides, the fruit is rich in fibre. All these make it an ideal fruit for diabetics. The monounsaturated fat and fibre present in avocado accompanied by its lower triglycerides and higher HDL [good cholesterol] content offers better control of blood sugar levels.

Aids digestion

The blandness of avocado is comforting and soothing to the hypersensitive surfaces of the stomach and duodenum. The abundant nutrients and enzymes present in the avocado are an effective remedy to treat stomach and duodenal ulcers, as it can pass quickly through the intestine. Being rich in fibre, it promotes a healthy gastrointestinal system by reducing constipation and the risk of developing digestive disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome [IBS]. Avocado is a natural mouthwash and remedy for bad breath, as it removes intestinal putrefaction or decomposition.

Betters eye-sight

Avocado is packed with an array of antioxidants [vitamin A, leutin, zeaxanthin, vitamin E]. This antioxidant system helps prevent free radical damage and improves eyesight. It also helps prevent eye problems like astigmatism, glaucoma and cataracts.

Improves heart health

Avocados are the second richest sources of MUFA [monounsaturated fatty acids] after olives. The oleic and linoleic acids present in them reduce LDL [bad cholesterol] simultaneously increasing the HDL [good cholesterol] levels in our body. The high amounts of potassium and folate, and low sodium content in the fruits help regulate blood pressure, thus preventing the body from risk of circulatory diseases, heart problems and stroke.

Protects against sun damage

Avocados are used as a natural cosmetic. It is a natural sunscreen and is used as a skin moisturiser, cleansing cream and hair conditioner. The two major advantages of avocados are its marked softening and soothing qualities and its rapid skin penetration. Avocados have chemicals in them, which stimulate the synthesis of a skin-protecting protein called collagen. It also helps in treating psoriasis.

Does a lot more...

In addition to the benefits mentioned above, avocados have more to offer.

  • Leaves of the avocado plant help relieve coughs; clear internal obstructions in the liver; and help in lowering high uric acid levels in the body of individuals having gout.
  • The mashed fruit pulp is considered an aphrodisiac.
  • Oil of the avocado seed decreases hair fall by strengthening hair follicles.
  • Folic acid content in avocados helps prevent neural tube defects like spina bifida [incomplete development of the spinal cord] in the foetus.
  • The fruit contains chemicals that are good for blood—the pyridoxine helps in red blood cell formation, while copper supports haemoglobin formation.
  • Vitamin C in avocados helps boost the body's immune system.

Warning signals

Take caution to enjoy the maximum benefits of this fruit.

  • Avocado is generally safe when consumed in amounts commonly found in foods. However, individuals with latex allergy are recommended to avoid avocado. Symptoms of latex allergy include anaphylaxis [whole-body allergic reaction], vomiting, intestinal spasms or bronchial asthma.
  • Those on blood-thinning medicines should skip having avocado, as its high potassium content may clot blood.
  • During lactation, some varieties of avocado [Guatemalan] cause mammary gland damage and reduce the milk production. Do not consume avocado during this time.
  • The Mexican varieties contain estragole and anethole that affect the liver, especially if the liver is already weak.

Handy tips

Keep these points in mind:

  • Always use a stainless steel knife for cutting avocados.
  • Use a spoon to scoop the pit.
  • Place the halves face down, then peel and slice. If the flesh is too soft to be sliced, scoop it out with a spoon.
  • To prevent enzymatic browning, sprinkle with vinegar or lemon juice.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Wonderful informative article.
    Please give some guidelines on how to make sure you are buying good avocado and how many days can you store it in the fridge and till when the freshness will be maintained.

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