Nutritional Information for Avocados

Avocados are known for their healthy monounsaturated fats. Unsaturated fatty acids, including polyunsaturated fats (Aka: Omega 3 fats), don’t seem to harden arteries like too many saturated fats (i.e. meat, dairy, eggs) have been shown to do. Avocados also harness some antioxidant potential. Chips and guac just got a lot more enticing!

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Benefits of Avocados

Cancer Prevention Benefits

The healthy fats (mono-unsaturated fatty acids) in avocados have been shown to reduce the risk of prostate cancer. In fact, men eating more avocados, like a quarter of an avocado per day vs. less than 1 tablespoon, were found to have 61% less odds of developing prostate cancer. These men obtained most of their monounsaturated fat from avocados. Who knows if it’s the unsaturated fat or the phytonutrients in avocados, or both, that seem to have anticancer influence. The phytochemicals in avocados have been tested in the lab and able to stop cancer cell growth and invasion. It can target multiple pathways in the cancer process and like other plant foods can induce apoptosis, programmed cell death. Research also points out that some of the phytochemicals in avocados may be utilized to limit side effects of chemotherapy drugs like cyclophosphamide.

Men's Health Benefits

Eating a source of fat helps absorb fat-soluble phytonutrients. Although men do not need a ton of fat, what’s the point of eating a salad if you don’t absorb all of the phytonutrients it contains?

The best source of fat is from whole food sources without cholesterol. This includes plant (always cholesterol-free) fats like avocados, olives, nuts and seeds. Monounsaturated fats in the diet may lower LDL cholesterol and reduce heart disease risk. Avocados contain natural plant sterols, cholesterol-lowering compounds such as beta-Sitosterol, which have been studied for their ability to reduce cholesterol. With all of the benefits of avocado men might consider adding roughly ¼ avocado to their daily diets.

Ways to Use Avocados

  • Make homemade Guacamole – use for salads, sandwiches, veggie dip, burritos or chili.
  • Mash or slice avocado on toast. Add spices, if desired and enjoy!
  • Add a half of an avocado, cubed, to your favorite salsa. Not only will this enhance all of the phytonutrient antioxidants from the salsa (think lycopene from the tomatoes) it gives the salsa a nice creamy and smooth feel and taste.
  • Add sliced or diced avocado to leafy green, grain, or pasta salads.
  • Toss avocado into smoothies.
  • Blend avocado with dates, banana, and cacao powder for an avocado chocolate pudding.
  • Make avocado pesto by blending avocado with basil, garlic, lemon juice, and walnuts/ pine nuts.
  • Mash avocado with chickpeas. Add raw veggies, like onions and celery. Layer onto whole grain bread with spinach.

Swap in avocado for butter in recipes. Use ½ cup mashed avocado for ½ cup butter.

Resources for Avocados

American Institute for Cancer Research: www.aicr.org

Nutrition Facts: www.nutritionfacts.org

Physicians Committee: www.pcrm.org

USDA Nutrient Database: Avocado

Citations
  1. Paul R, Kulkarni , Ganesh N. Avocado fruit (Persea americana Mill) exhibits chemo-protective potentiality against cyclophosphamide induced genotoxicity in human lymphocyte culture. J Exp Ther Oncol. 2011;9(3):221-30.
  2. Berry E, Eisenberg S, Friedlander Y, et al. Effects of diets rich in monounsaturated fatty acids on plasma lipoproteins–the Jerusalem Nutrition Study. II. Monounsaturated fatty acids vs carbohydrates.  Am J Clin Nutr. 1992;56(2):394-403.
  3. Duester K. Avocado fruit is a rich source of beta-sitosterol. J Am Diet Assoc. 2001;101(4):404-5.
  4. Colquhoun DM, Moores D, Somerset SM, Humphries JA. Comparison of the effects on lipoproteins and apolipoproteins of a diet high in monounsaturated fatty acids, enriched with avocado, and a high-carbohydrate diet. Am J Clin Nutr. 1992;56(4):671-7.
  5. Ding H, Han C, Guo D, et al. Selective induction of apoptosis of human oral cancer cell lines by avocado extracts via a ROS-mediated mechanism. Nutr Cancer. 2009;61(3):348-56. 
  6. Ding H, Chin Y, Kinghorn A, D’Ambrosio S. Chemopreventive characteristics of avocado fruit. Semin Cancer Biol. 2007 Oct;17(5):386-94. 
  7. Butt A, Roberts C, Seawright A, et al. A novel plant toxin, persin, with in vivo activity in the mammary gland, induces Bim-dependent apoptosis in human breast cancer cells. Mol Cancer Ther. 2006 Sep;5(9):2300-9.
  8. Milazzo S, Ernst E, Lejeune S, Boehm K, Horneber M. Laetrile treatment for cancer. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011;(11):CD005476. 
  9. Jackson M,, Walker S, Simpson-Smith C, et al. Associations of whole-blood fatty acids and dietary intakes with prostate cancer in Jamaica. Cancer Causes Control. 2012;23(1):23-33. 
  10. Unlu N, Bohn T, Clinton S, et al. Carotenoid absorption from salad and salsa by humans is enhanced by the addition of avocado or avocado oil. J Nutr. 2005;135(3):431-6.
  11. Brown MJ1, Ferruzzi MG, Nguyen ML, et al. Carotenoid bioavailability is higher from salads ingested with full-fat than with fat-reduced salad dressings as measured with electrochemical detection.  Am J Clin Nutr. 2004;80(2):396-403.

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