July 25, 2024

Like the egg and chicken debate, avocados have always incensed people with their existence. Is it a fruit or a vegetable? According to Reader’s Digest, it is both. Well, technically, it is a large berry with a single seed. Regardless of its origins, avocados are a great addition to a healthy diet.

Rich in healthy monounsaturated fats, avocados can help support heart health and reduce cholesterol levels. They are also a good source of dietary fibre, which aid in digestion and promote a feeling of fullness, according to Dr Rajkumar, Senior Consultant, Internal Medicine, Indian Spinal Injuries Centre, New Delhi.

Calories: 234
Total Fat: 21 grams
Saturated Fat: 3.1 grams
Monounsaturated Fat: 14.7 grams
Polyunsaturated Fat: 2.7 grams
Cholesterol: 0 grams
Sodium: 10 milligrams
Total Carbohydrates: 12 grams
Dietary Fibre: 10 grams
Sugars: 1 gram
Protein: 2.9 grams
Vitamin K: 26% of the Daily Value (DV)
Folate: 20% of the DV
Vitamin C: 17% of the DV
Potassium: 14% of the DV
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid): 14% of the DV
Vitamin B6: 13% of the DV
Vitamin E: 10% of the DV

avocados Avocados are a great source of dietary fibre, both soluble and insoluble. (Source: Unsplash)

Health benefits of avocado

Avocados offer a myriad of health benefits due to their rich nutrient profile, as per Dr Rajkumar.

Source of heart-healthy fats: Firstly, they are an excellent source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, specifically oleic acid. This type of fat has been associated with reducing LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and promoting HDL (good) cholesterol, ultimately benefiting cardiovascular health.

Provides dietary fibre: Moreover, avocados are a great source of dietary fibre, both soluble and insoluble. Fibre aids digestion, promotes feelings of fullness, and helps regulate blood sugar levels.

Helps manage chronic conditions like diabetes: It also contributes to maintaining a healthy weight and reducing the risk of chronic conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Packed with essential minerals: They are particularly rich in potassium, which supports healthy blood pressure levels and helps prevent hypertension. Additionally, avocados contain vitamins K, E, C, and various B vitamins that play vital roles in immune function, bone health, skin health, and cognitive function.

Loaded with antioxidants: This fruit also boasts potent antioxidants, including carotenoids (such as lutein and zeaxanthin) and tocopherols, which help combat oxidative stress, inflammation, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer.

Can diabetics consume avocados?

Despite being relatively high in calories, avocados have a low glycemic index, meaning they have a minimal impact on blood sugar levels, according to Dr Rajkumar.

“The high fibre content in avocados slows down the absorption of carbohydrates, helping to regulate blood sugar levels and improve glycemic control. Additionally, the monounsaturated fats in avocados can promote insulin sensitivity, which is beneficial for individuals with type 2 diabetes.”

However, portion control is still important due to their calorie content.

Are avocados beneficial for pregnant women?

Avocados can be highly beneficial for pregnant women due to their nutrient-rich composition, Dr Rajkumar says.

“They are an excellent source of healthy fats, including monounsaturated fats, which are crucial for fetal development and the mother’s overall health. Avocados also provide essential vitamins such as folate, which helps prevent neural tube defects in the developing baby.”

The fruit is rich in fiber, aiding digestion and preventing constipation, a common issue during pregnancy.

Avocados also contain important minerals like potassium and magnesium, supporting proper muscle function and blood pressure regulation. Their versatility makes them a convenient and nutritious addition to a pregnant woman’s diet, providing valuable nutrients for both the mother and the developing baby, explains Dr Rajkumar.

avocado Excessive consumption of avocados can disrupt dietary balance. (Source: Getty Images)

Things to keep in mind while eating avocados

While avocado is generally safe and nutritious, there are a few important considerations, Dr Rajkumar says.

  1. Individuals with latex allergies may experience cross-reactivity with avocados, resulting in oral itching or swelling. It’s essential to be aware of this potential allergenicity and seek medical advice if necessary.
  2. Although avocados are low in sugar, they are relatively high in calories due to their fat content. Overconsumption may lead to weight gain, if not accounted for within an overall balanced diet.
  3. As with any food, excessive consumption can disrupt dietary balance and potentially contribute to an increased risk of nutrient imbalances or gastrointestinal discomfort. Therefore, it’s recommended to enjoy avocados as part of a varied and portion-controlled diet.

Myths and facts about avocados

According to Dr Rajkumar, avocados are often considered “fattening,” but the majority of their calories come from healthy monounsaturated fats that are beneficial for heart health. “They can be included in a balanced diet without causing weight gain,” he says.

Secondly, some people believe that avocados are high in carbohydrates, but they are actually low in carbs compared to other fruits, he adds.

Additionally, while avocados are nutrient-dense, they should not be relied upon as a sole source of nutrition, Dr Rajkumar explains. “They are best consumed as part of a varied diet to ensure a wide range of nutrients.”

Lastly, contrary to a common misconception, the pit of an avocado is not edible and should not be consumed due to potential choking hazards. You can cut the avocado lengthwise, rotating the knife around the pit, to eat it. Twist the halves apart and remove the pit using a spoon or gently tapping it with a knife and twisting to release. Scoop out the flesh with a spoon or slice it while still in the skin and carefully peel it away.

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