Avocados are a stone fruit with a creamy texture that grow in warm climates. Their potential health benefits include improving digestion, decreasing the risk of depression, and protection against cancer
Also known as an alligator pear or butter fruit, the versatile avocado is the only fruit that provides a substantial amount of healthy monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA). Avocados are naturally nutrient-dense food and contain nearly 20 vitamins and minerals.
This MNT Knowledge Center feature is part of a collection of articles on the health benefits of popular foods. In the article, we take an in-depth look at the possible health benefits of eating avocados as well as a nutritional breakdown. To maintain balance, we will also look at the possible health risks of consuming avocados.
- Healthy for the heart
Avocados contain 25 milligrams per ounce of a natural plant sterol called beta-sitosterol. Regular consumption of beta-sitosterol and other plant sterols has been seen to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
- Healthy babies
Folate is extremely important for a healthy pregnancy.
Adequate intake reduces the risk of miscarriage and neural tube defects.
Recent research from McGill University found a 30 percent higher incidence of a variety of birth defects in baby mice conceived using sperm from mice with a folate deficiency compared with mice conceived using sperm from mice with adequate folate levels.
- Lower risk of depression
Foods containing high levels of folate may help to decrease the risk of depression because folate helps to prevent the build-up of homocysteine, a substance that can impair circulation and delivery of nutrients to the brain.
Excess homocysteine can also interfere with the production of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which regulate mood, sleep, and appetite.