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It's Easy Being Green

They've been the darlings of social media, and they've been called "America's new favorite fruit." Turns out, avocados are popular for good reason. Not only are they delicious, they're packed with vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that can help keep you healthy.

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Better Than a Banana

Your body needs potassium to work normally. For example, the mineral helps keeps your heartbeat steady. Most people think of bananas when they think of this nutrient. But ounce for ounce, avocados have more.

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Protect Your Eyes

Avocados have lutein and zeaxanthin, which absorb light waves that can harm your vision. People who eat lots of foods rich in these antioxidants are less likely to have age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in older adults. Most of an avocado's antioxidants are found in the darker green flesh that's closest to the peel.

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Help You Lose Weight

A half-cup of guacamole has about 6 grams, almost 1/4, of your daily fiber needs. Fiber helps you feel full, so you're less likely to overeat. And although avocados are high in fat, it's mainly healthy monounsaturated fat. Research has found that this type of fat in your diet can help trim your waistline. Instead of chicken salad with mayo, try chickpeas with mashed avocado.

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Boost Your Mood

In a cup of avocado slices, you'll get about 118 micrograms of folate, which is almost a third of what most adults need daily. People who don't get enough of this B vitamin could be more prone to depression -- and less likely to respond well to antidepressants. Folate also plays a role in preventing birth defects, so expectant and new mothers are encouraged to get more.

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Power You Up

These green gems are packed with a variety of other B vitamins, too, including thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), and niacin (B3). These help your body convert the food you eat into energy. Avocados are especially rich in niacin, which can fight inflammation in the body and protect your arteries by improving cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

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Good for Your Heart

Speaking of your blood vessels, the American Heart Association recommends that the majority of the fat you eat be unsaturated, like you'll find in avocados, rather than the saturated fats in foods like red meats and whole-milk dairy foods. Early research now shows that avocados in particular can also help lower "bad" cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure.

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Save Your Brain

Avocados give you a good dose of vitamin E, which may help protect against Alzheimer's disease and slow decline in your memory and thinking skills. This may have to do with vitamin E's antioxidant properties -- it can help fight cell damage caused over time by things like pollution and radiation from the sun.

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Strengthen Bones

On average, people eat half an avocado at a time. That gives an adult 15% of their daily vitamin K needs. This nutrient may help improve bone density and prevent fractures. Toss avocado pieces into a spinach salad with salmon, tuna, or egg for even more vitamin K along with vitamin D, another nutrient that's essential for bone health.

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Healthy Blood Sugar

Because they're low in carbs and sugar and high in healthy fat and fiber, avocados check all the boxes as far as being friendly for someone with diabetes. If you don't have it now but are worried about the future, here's some good news: Eating a plant-based diet (that includes avocados) could drop your chance of developing type 2 diabetes by about 20%, according to a Harvard study that tracked 200,000 people for 20 years.

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Skin Care

Whether you eat it or make it into a mask, avocado is great for your skin. Its antioxidants, like vitamin C, can help keep your skin looking youthful by smoothing out wrinkles. And the same nutrients that protect your eyes also protect your skin from UV damage. Avocado paste may help wound healing, so you could slather it on a sunburn.

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Fight Cancer

Avocados have oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid (also found in olive oil and nuts) that can slash the odds of breast cancer, according to a study of more than 4,000 women. And a compound in avocados called avocatin B can kill leukemia cells, according to a lab study. Scientists are even looking into whether the papery husks that surround avocado pits have anything helpful.

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Improves Prostate

Beta-sitosterol, a kind of plant sterol, may help relieve symptoms of an enlarged prostate. (It's part of the family of phytonutrients that help block your body from absorbing "bad" LDL cholesterol.) Avocados have more than four times as much beta-sitosterol as oranges, the next richest fruit source.

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Team Player

Certain nutrients -- like vitamins A, D, E, and K, and the antioxidant lycopene -- are fat-soluble, which means your body will absorb more of them when you eat them along with some fat. Enter the avocado, which just so happens to taste delicious with tomatoes. Try it with pink grapefruit, watermelon, or cantaloupe, too.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 02/10/2020 Reviewed by Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD on February 10, 2020


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USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: "Basic Report: 09037, Avocados, raw, all commercial varieties," "Basic Report: 09040, Bananas, raw."

Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center: "Potassium," "Carotenoids."

MedlinePlus: "Potassium," "B Vitamins."

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "The Nutrition Source: Guacamole," "Healthy plant-based diet linked with substantially lower type 2 diabetes risk."

FDA: "Nutrition Facts Label: Dietary Fiber."

eatright.org: "Choose Healthy Fats."

Diabetes Care: "Monounsaturated fat-rich diet prevents central body fat distribution and decreases postprandial adiponectin expression induced by a carbohydrate-rich diet in insulin-resistant subjects."

NIH Office of Dietary Supplements: "Folate: Fact Sheet for Consumers," "Vitamin E: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals," "Vitamin K: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals," "Vitamin D: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals," "Vitamin A: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals."

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database via MedlinePlus: "Niacin."

Medical Hypotheses: "Anti-inflammatory effect is an important property of niacin on atherosclerosis beyond its lipid-altering effects."

American Heart Association: "Monounsaturated Fat."

Harvard Health Publishing: "The truth about fats: the good, the bad, and the in-between."

Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition: "Hass Avocado Composition and Potential Health Effects."

Nutrition in Clinical Practice: "Bone health and osteoporosis: the role of vitamin K and potential antagonism by anticoagulants."

OrthoInfo: "Vitamin D for Good Bone Health."

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: "Diabetes Diet, Eating, & Physical Activity."

Journal of Geriatric Cardiology: "A plan-based diet for the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes."

PLOS Medicine: "Plant-Based Dietary Patterns and Incidence of Type 2 Diabetes in US Men and Women: Results from Three Prospective Cohort Studies."

Nutrients: "The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health."

JAMA Internal Medicine: "Mediterranean Diet and Invasive Breast Cancer Risk Among Women at High Cardiovascular Risk in the PREDIMED Trial."

Cancer Research: "Targeting Mitochondria with Avocatin B Induces Selective Leukemia Cell Death."

American Chemical Society: "Avocado seed husks could be a gold mine of medicinal and industrial compounds."

Journal of the American Dietetic Association: "Avocado Fruit is a Rich Source of Beta-Sitosterol."

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: "Beta-sitosterols for benign prostatic hyperplasia."

Colorado State University Extension: "Fat-Soluble Vitamins: A, D, E, and K."

Annual Review of Food Science and Technology: "An Update on the Health Effects of Tomato Lycopene."

Reviewed by Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD on February 10, 2020

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.