There are few things as delectable–without any dressing up–as an avocado. Pierce the alligator-like skin of this oddly shaped fruit, and you’ll find a substantial seed surrounded by creamy green flesh with a rich taste that’s out of this world. Now, new research shows that an affection for avocados could indicate that you’re better than others at choosing healthy foods.
A study published in the January 2013 issue of Nutrition Journal found that avocado consumption is associated with improved overall diet quality, nutrient intake and reduced risk of metabolic syndrome. The researchers believe this suggests that a person willing to eat avocados is likely to be a more adventurous eater in general, open to a wide variety of health-improving fruits and veggies.
Avocados are a good source of fiber, potassium and vitamins C,K, folate and B6. Half an avocado has 160 calories, 15 grams of heart-healthy unsaturated fat, and only 2 grams saturated fat. One globe contains more than one-third daily value of vitamin C, and more than half the day’s requirements of vitamin K. Avocados also supply monounsaturated fatty acids (aka “good fat“) dietary fiber, essential nutrients and phytochemicals.
Researchers in Mexico say avocado oil could be used to counteract the effects of diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. Some scientists say that eating avocados could also protect cells from damage caused by environmental factors like radiation or air pollution.
In the Nutrition Journal study, conducted by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, data was collected from over 17,000 participants over the age of 19 who provided information on their avocado consumption and overall nutrition while also undergoing physical examinations.
The results showed that avocado consumers had significantly higher intakes of vegetables; fruit, diet quality, total fat, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, dietary fiber, vitamins E, K, magnesium, potassium and vitamin K; and lower intakes of added sugars. Body weight, BMI and waist circumference were also significantly lower, and the odds ratio for metabolic syndrome was 50% lower in avocado consumers vs. non-consumers.
Of course, being healthy involves a lot more than just scarfing down guacamole. In fact, pairing your avocado with salty chips or calorie-heavy Ranch dressing puts an instant damper on its health benefits. Still, it appears that the delicious avocado could be a gateway food, encouraging us to experiment with a diverse sampling of high-nutrient fruits and veggies that, when combined, can indeed improve our happiness and health.
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