Avocado is one of the most popular fruits. It offers an instant upgrade to almost any dish, including burgers, salads and smoothies—it's no wonder people have been adding slices to all of their meals (and Instagram accounts).
Avocados get a bad reputation for being high in fat, but experts agree that it is the healthy kind of fat (from monounsaturated fatty acids). The creamy fruit feels indulgent, and yet is rich in vitamins and powerful antioxidants, so the avocado hype isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Read on, as experts weigh in on the health and beauty benefits that make the treasured superfood even more appealing.
Improves Heart Health
How: An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but your daily avocado will keep the cardiologist away. “Healthy fats help to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system and reduce risk of stroke, heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases,” says Sandra J. Arevalo, MPH, RDN, a spokesperson for the American Association of Diabetes Educators and director of nutrition and outreach at Montefiore Community Programs in New York City.
“The high fat content helps with reducing spikes in blood sugar when consumed with other foods,” agrees Maureen Eyerman, a registered dietitian and certified Diabetes educator in San Luis Obispo county. “Monounsaturated fats found in avocados reduce LDL, or ‘bad’ cholesterol levels, while increasing HDL, ‘good’ cholesterol levels.” And speaking of daily fruits, you might be surprised to learn that avocados have more potassium than bananas. Potassium helps with lowering blood pressure and with the prevention of strokes. Folate, a B vitamin found in avocados, also prevents strokes and reduces the risk of certain brain and spinal cord birth defects.
How: We’re skeptical of anything prescribed for all skin types, but avocados contain beneficial nutrients to address a range of concerns. In addition to ingesting the delicious fruit, you can apply it topically to reap even more beauty benefits. The natural oils in avocados can deeply penetrate the skin to nourish, soften and hydrate, Eyerman explains: “The hydrating properties may reduce fine lines and wrinkles, help keep skin smooth and boost skin’s immunity against stress and other environmental factors.” Specifically, antioxidants such as vitamins E and C help protect cells from free radical damage—one of the best anti-aging methods, points out California-based dietitian and nutritionist Jessica Gust, MS, RDN. Avocados also contain lutein, a carotenoid that promotes skin elasticity, while oleic acid and chlorophyll help to reduce redness and inflammation.
How: Rough day at work? Rather than a coffee break, consider grabbing an avocado. “Avocados are loaded with magnesium, the anti-stress nutrient,” according to Certified Eating Psychology and Nutrition Expert Elise Muscles. “Magnesium helps you release tension and also sleep better. And when you’re relaxed and well-rested, you’re more likely to have a positive outlook on life!”
Improves Brain Health
How: Avocados’ healthy fats and nutrients, such as folate, copper and vitamins C and E make for great brain food. “Our brains are over 60% fat and need fat to function properly,” explains Muscles. “Also, the fat and fiber will help keep your blood sugar balanced so that you can stay sharp and focused throughout the day.”
Promotes Healthy Hair and Nails
How: Consider an avocado your daily multivitamin. Muscles also note that avocados are filled with biotin for lustrous hair and nails. Plus, vitamins B and E can protect hair strands from dryness and damage, control hair loss and repair scalp damage.