Over the past few years, avocados have become increasingly more popular in restaurants and home kitchens alike as a way to incorporate healthy fats into any meal. However, the utility of avocados extends far beyond guacamole or the popular ‘avocado toast’ – they can be used as a creamy additive to create filling smoothies, salad toppers, and even desserts!
Aside from being a great source of vitamins, dieticians have touted these green fruits as being a superfood based on their rich composition of fats and fibers, both of which will help you stay satiated longer after a meal.
Avocados are one of the rare plant-based foods with a high portion of fat: accounting for nearly 80% of its calories. Specifically, avocados are loaded with a type of fat called monounsaturated fatty acids. Notably, this chemical makeup makes avocado oil one of the healthiest and safest choices for cooking as it is stable and has a higher smoke point than other cooking oils, like olive oil.
In 2013, Dr. Victor Fulgoni conducted an analysis on information obtained from participants responses in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey which was then published in Nutrition Journal. His team sought to determine whether avocado consumption was linked to diet, weight and overall metabolic disease in US adults. In this study, they found that avocado consumers were more likely to have a balanced diet, high in vegetables and lower in added sugars. Among those who reported eating avocados, individuals tended to have lower body weight, waist circumference and a lower incidence of metabolic diseases (like diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol) than non-consumers. While we can’t claim that avocado consumption is what in fact caused these changes, it seems that increased consumption of these healthy fats is associated with better overall health and wellness, which has the potential to impact longevity and quality of life!
The monounsaturated fats of avocados have dual benefits for brain health. Unlike saturated animal-based fats, this specific type of fat supports a reduced blood pressure level, which is a major risk factor for stroke and brain bleeds. As well, a 2012 study based in the Netherlands found that monounsaturated fats are protective for a population of brain cells called astrocytes. Astrocytes play a critical role in the normal function of our brain and help protect the critical information-carrying neurons from any damage. Should the critical neurons be exposed to any toxins or inflammation, astrocytes are key in the repair and regeneration processes. As well in disorders such as Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease, astrocytes play a role in protection against disease progression. Thus, the inclusion of monosaturated fats may help to maintain these complex pathways and protect the brain from harmful effects of inflammation.