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.
Stay Leaner and Lighter
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.
More Youthful Skin and Fewer Wrinkles
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, healthymen 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 inLancet
were the first to show a cause-and-effect relationship between inflammation
in the artery wall and heart disease risk.
Possible Protection Against Cancer
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.