The avocado has been a staple throughout Central and South America since the Aztecs introduced Spanish conquistadors to this creamy fruit in the 16th century. Good thing the name wasn’t translated, or this fruit might not be as popular as it is today.
Āhuacatl, the Aztec word for “avocado,” literally means testicle. It could be because the avocado fruit bears some resemblance to that part of the male anatomy, or perhaps it’s because the health benefits of avocado promote fertility. (So if you’re longing to be a grandparent, serve your favorite guacamole recipe at the next family get-together.)
4 Reasons Why Avocados Are Good for Older Adults
Why are avocados so good for us as we age?
1. Avocados are good for heart health.
Two-thirds of avocado fat is in the form of monounsaturated fat, the same type of heart-healthy fat that’s in olive oil. Monounsaturated fat is a key feature of the Mediterranean Diet, a healthy eating plan that’s linked to increased longevity and reduced chronic pain.
Monounsaturated fat also helps lowers inflammation and bad low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol while simultaneously increasing healthy high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, lowering heart disease risk.
In a study of overweight and obese adults, replacing 6-7% of calories from saturated fat (such as butter and cheese) with 1 avocado per day was found to lower LDL cholesterol levels, compared to a lower-fat diet. The avocado diet worked even better than a diet in which the fat came from oils high in monounsaturated fats, such as sunflower oil and canola oil. Avocados are also rich in potassium, which can help lower blood pressure levels.
2. Avocados are good for our brains.
Research shows that avocados (as well as apples, melons and sunflower seeds) can help prevent Alzheimer’s, because of the moderate amount of Vitamin E found in the fruit.
3. Avocados may reduce the risk of cancer.
Avocados are an excellent source of folate, a B vitamin linked to a lower risk of some types of cancer, including pancreatic cancer and breast cancer. Half an avocado provides 6 grams of fibre, promoting healthy digestion and helping to reduce the risk of colon cancer. (Diet and nutrition are estimated to account for as much as 30%–50% of the worldwide incidence of colorectal cancer.)
Avocados also contain phytochemicals, which, according to a study published in the Journal of Experimental Therapeutics and Oncology, may help protect healthy cells from damage from chemotherapy treatment.
4. Avocados can help you lose weight.
Ironically, even though they’re high in calories (320 calories in a medium avocado), avocados can help you lose weight. A small study of overweight adults found that adding half an avocado to lunch helped people feel more satisfied and full over a subsequent 3-5 hour period.
If you’re trying to lose weight, take a look at your overall energy intake and use avocado to replace less healthy fats (such as trans fats found in fried food or pre-packaged snack food) so you don’t end up taking in more calories than you need.
Why We Love Avocados
The classic way to enjoy avocado is by making guacamole. It’s also fantastic cubed and added to salads. But did you know you can substitute avocado for butter in baked goods such as cookies? It’s also perfect mixed in with your tuna or egg salad as a healthier alternative to mayo. Or try using it as a replacement for dairy in pureed soups. (Oh, and make an extra batch for your kids.)
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