Guacamole lovers rejoice: not only do avocados protect vision, reduced heart attack risk, and potentially ward off cancer, but they can also slim your waist and keep extra pounds off, according to surprising new research.
In fact, this nutrient-packed green superfruit has such an amazing bounty of health benefits that it’s been called “the world’s most perfect food.” Here’s a look at why avocados—not just apples—might just be your best bet for keeping the doctor away.
Although avocados are high in fat (the healthy kind), people who eat them regularly are actually thinner than those who don’t, according to a new study published in Nutrition Journal. When the researchers crunched numbers from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), they discovered that avocado eaters had a lower average weight (7.5 pounds less), smaller waistline (1.6 inches less), and lower BMI than non-consumers. For dozens of delicious ways to enjoy the creamy green fruit—from soups and dips to sandwiches, salads, breakfasts and even desserts—visit the California Avocado Growers website.
What’s more, the same study found that avocado eaters also had lower risk for metabolic syndrome. Fifty million Americans, many of whom are undiagnosed, suffer from this dangerous cluster of abnormalities that quintuple risk for type 2 diabetes and triple it for heart attack. To be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, you must have at least three of these disorders: a large waistline (also called an “apple shape.”), high blood pressure, high blood sugar, low HDL (good) cholesterol, and high triglycerides.
Foods that are high in carotenoids, such as avocados, may slow down skin aging, protect against damage from UV rays, and even protect against sunburn, according to a new paper published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. The researchers also report that eating a diet high in green and yellow veggies is linked to fewer wrinkles, while one that’s high in healthy fats is linked to greater skin elasticity. Most remarkably, several preclinical studies suggest that compounds in avocado may also enhance wound healing.
In a small study published in Food & Function, healthy men who ate a hamburger with a slice of avocado had reduced inflammation and blood vessel reactivity two hours later, compared to men who only ate a hamburger. As I reported recently, chronic inflammation has been linked to an increasingly long list of diseases, from Alzheimer’s to heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, sleep apnea, and cancer. Some scientists even theorize that this fiery process may underlie all chronic diseases. Two groundbreaking studies recently published in Lancet were the first to show a cause-and-effect relationship between inflammation in the artery wall and heart disease risk.
Also known as alligator pears, avocados have a high concentration of phytochemicals that may have cancer-combatting powers. In lab tests, Ohio State University researchers found that these compounds killed oral cancer cells, but not normal cells from the lining of the mouth, by doubling or even tripling apoptosis (the process of programmed cell self-destruction). The same team also reported that, “phytochemicals from the avocado fruit may offer an advantageous dietary strategy in cancer prevention.” UCLA scientists have also found that an avocado extract inhibited growth of prostate cancer cells. However, since these studies are based on effects on cells in test tubes, it’s not yet known if the same effect will be seen in human trials.
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