7 Amazing Avocado Health Benefits

By Erica Loop in Healthy Feeling

Ah, avocados, the magical little green fruit—yes, fruit! Studies have shown that there is a plethora of avocado health benefits, making this tasty treat much more than a spread for your whole wheat toast. In celebration of National Avocado Day on July 31, here's the scoop on what makes this produce pick such a winner. Whether you eat them as is, mix them into smoothies, make a gallon of guac, or blend them into desserts, you can take advantage of the bounty of benefits avocados have to offer.

1. Control Cholesterol

Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), also known as the "bad" cholesterol, adds to fatty arterial buildup and increases the risk of developing heart disease. A review of ten nutritional studies, published in the Journal of Clinical Lipidology, found that eating avocados significantly decreases LDL-C levels. This is because avocados are naturally heart healthy. A research review from Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition notes that, during the ripening process, the saturated fat content in avocados decreases as the monounsaturated fat content increases. Monounsaturated fats are beneficial fats connected to lowering cholesterol and improving heart health.

sliced avocado

2. Build Brain Health as You Age

Research published in the journal Nutrients found a connection between eating one avocado daily and improved memory and problem-solving skills in older adults. When healthy adults aged 50 and over ate one avocado a day for a six-month period, they showed a significant increase in lutein levels in their eyes. Lutein, which is a pigment that has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, is also thought to be connected to cognitive health.

3. Improve Eye Health

Lutein doesn't just provide a brainy boost. When it builds up in the eyes, according to a review also published in Nutrients, lutein can improve or prevent macular disease. This often age-related eye issue can result in vision impairment or even blindness.

4. Minimize Cancer Risk

While eating avocados won't cure cancer, some research points to the fruit's antioxidant properties as playing a potential role in the prevention of the disease. A study in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry highlights that the carotenoids in avocados may help to reduce the risk of developing some types of cancers. It's thought that the high concentration of monounsaturated fats in avocados helps the bloodstream better absorb these carotenoids, increasing the cancer-preventing effects of the fruit.

5. Protect Against Sun Damage

You layer up on sunscreen in an attempt to prevent damaging UVA and UVB radiation—but what about adding a dose of avocado extract to your skin care routine, too? One study, published in the Archives of Dermatological Research, found that extracted lipid (fat) molecules from avocados reduced inflammation and UVB damage in skin. Of course, there's still more to understand about the overall effect avocado may have with regard to UVB exposure. If you are considering trying avocado extract—or any new skin care product—talk to your doctor, and don't forget to continue to use an SPF sunscreen, too.

Avocado on white plate

6. Heal Itchy, Dry Skin

According to research from the journal Dermatology, avocado oil may also help to improve symptoms of psoriasis, a skin condition that causes itchy, dry patches. Much like the research with UVB exposure, the research on avocados and psoriasis doesn't focus on eating the fruit. Instead, topical applications of a cream made with avocado oil and vitamin B12 were found to provide an effective, long-term therapy for the skin condition. Keep in mind that if you have a similar skin concern, you should always discuss any potential health treatments with your trusted doctor or dermatologist.

7. Reduce the Risk of Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common joint disease that can make moving difficult for many adults. While there's no cure, you can live comfortably with OA. Anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy have shown to help ease symptoms, according to the Mayo Clinic, but recent studies have shown that avocados—or more specifically, avocado soybean unsaponifiables (ASU)—may also help.

Research published in The Physician and Sportsmedicine found that ASU supplements, which are extracted from avocados and soybeans, may help ease the symptoms and progression of OA in patients with hip and knee issues.

The science behind avocado health benefits makes one thing clear: this is one awesome fruit that definitely deserves a serious celebration! So, the next time you chow down on a delicious avocado, you can feel especially good about the healthy choice you're making for your body!

Looking for delicious avocado recipes and other healthy snack ideas? Follow the Smart Snacking board by @tomsofmaine on Pinterest!

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Why It's Good

It isn't just an enjoyable fruit—the avocado has benefits galore! From lowering cholesterol to helping reduce the risk of cancer, eating avocados is a tasty way to prevent chronic conditions and nourish your body with nutrients.