The avocado is a somewhat misunderstood fruit, in the past there have been several myths and misconceptions about what its benefits actually are, at one point it was even cited as a cause for obesity. Yet the avocado continues to be one of the most popular natural products used in both the cosmetics and health industry. This is one product where the whole of the fruit can be used in one form or another to benefit the body. The flesh is rich in vitamins and nutrients and the oils from the whole fruit make for an effective sunscreen.
Avocado in Cosmetics
With more and more consumers looking for a natural solution for their skin care regimen, away from the chemical, preservatives and additives of many commercial, artificial products the avocado is being put to good use. Avocado has been used as an ingredient in face creams, skin cleansers, sunscreen, cosmetic foundations, lipsticks, hair conditioners and bath oils. This is due to the soothing and softening effect that the avocado oil has upon the skin, it actually absorbs into the skin much more effectively than other oils such as olive, almond or soybean. The use of sunscreen containing synthetic chemicals such as PABA can cause reactions in some people, however when replaced with avocado oil and its natural sunscreen properties the reaction is greatly reduced.
Avocado Cooking Oil
As cooking oil, avocado oil like olive oil is monounsaturated which is thought to offer substantial health benefits over other types of oil. There are some distinct advantages to using avocado oil as opposed to your usual brand of cooking oil. These include:
- Avocado oil is much lighter than many other oils, which means that it integrates well with a broad variety of foods.
- The flavour is very delicate and mild so rather than dominating a dish it will enhance the flavour of the other ingredients in a dish.
- Avocado oil has a very high smoking point and can be used at much higher temperatures than other oils without breaking down, making fried food slightly healthier.
The nutritional properties of the avocado are many, and are the most important of all of the benefits that the fruit provides to the consumer. There are benefits to weight control that few people realise, believing instead that the fruit is high in fat and calories and should be avoided at all costs. The advantages of including avocado in your healthy diet include:
- The monounsaturated fats within the avocado work to speed up the metabolic rate of the consumer at a far greater rate than saturated fats.
- It is the fat content of the fruit that gives the consumer the feeling of fullness quicker than they would normally experience which works against overeating.
- Avocado is rich in both vitamins and minerals and contributes to the overall health and wellbeing of an individual when eaten in moderation.
High Nutritional Value
It is the nutritional values of the avocado that make it a super food. It contains:
- Vitamin B12 – Brain, nervous system
- Calcium – Teeth and bones
- Zinc – Antioxidant and boost immune system
- Riboflavin – Energy, metabolism
- Thiamine – Nervous and cardiovascular systems
- Vitamin B6 – Nervous system, teeth and gums, red blood cells
Protection Against Strokes
It has been noted in a number of medical research projects that stroke victims generally have a lower potassium intake than the rest of the population. The avocado has five times more potassium than a banana or an orange. A twelve year study that was carried out into the area of strokes showed that when an individual’s potassium intake was increased there was a massive 40% reduction in the risk of stroke to that individual. Blood pressure which is also a key factor in the management of strokes was also linked to potassium deficiency.
Protein and Fibre
The avocado has an unusually high amount of protein for a fruit having between two and ten times as much as other fruits and vegetables. In protein terms the avocado is regarded as being a ‘complete food’ as it has all nine amino acids deemed essential, though not in what would be considered to be ideal proportions. This is especially important to those following a vegetarian diet who lack meat products as a protein source.
It has been shown that a diet that is high in fibre lowers the risk of an individual succumbing to cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and some cancers as well as obesity and diabetes. Avocados contain large amounts of both soluble and insoluble fibre and the addition of avocado to the diet would greatly improve their fibre intake without the need for a synthetic supplement.
The avocado can be used in everything from appetisers to desserts. It can be mashed, sliced, diced and grilled and served just about any way that you want it. It can be made into dips, added to salads, used as a garnish on burgers and even served up in an avocado and key lime pie. There is a multitude of ways to get some of this incredible super food into your diet so get creative and reap the benefits to your health and wellbeing that it brings.