Sometimes, avocados get a bad rap because they are high in fat. While that’s true, not all types of fat are created equal. Avocados contain a significant amount of monounsaturated fat, or “good fat,” which can have surprising benefits for your health. Monounsaturated fat helps lower bad cholesterol in your blood stream, protects against heart disease, and can reduce inflammation in the body.
About 15 out of the 22 grams of fat found in an average-sized avocado is monounsaturated fat. Avocados also provide us with phytosterols, a special group of fats that has been shown to have anti-inflammatory benefits in our body systems, including our cardiovascular system.
Along with the health benefits they provide, avocados can help us gain greater benefit from other healthy foods that we consume. They help with the absorption of carotenoids – the yellow/orange pigments found in food. Carotenoids are very good for you, but only when they are absorbed into your cells – and eating fat along with carotenoids greatly increases their absorption.
Many of the foods containing the most carotenoids – sweet potatoes, carrots and leafy greens – contain very little fat. Therefore, adding avocados to meals that contain these foods can make them even more beneficial for your health. Not only does avocado improve carotenoid absorption, it also improves conversion of specific carotenoids (like beta-carotene) into vitamin A.
Adding avocado to a well-balanced diet has been shown to lower the risk of heart disease, improve levels of LDL (good cholesterol) in the blood, and lower levels of oxidative stress in the bloodstream after consumption of food. Most doctors agree that it’s the high levels of monounsaturated fat in avocados that play a role in these benefits.
To reap the maximum benefit, researchers believe you should eat one small avocado (about 1 cup) several times a week. So, go ahead, order the guacamole – it’s good for your heart!
You can learn more about avocados here.