Other common names:
Alligator Pear, Midshipman's Butter, Aguacate, Palta
Discover the beauty secrets that
the ancient Mayans knew about the Avocado. This delicious and
nutritious fruit with its healthy high fat content appears to fight the
ravages of age, sun and wind damage as it softens and smoothes the
skin. Its high mineral, vitamin and nutrient compounds help to support
healthy cholesterol levels, fight serious disease and promote good eye health.
The information presented herein by Herbal Extracts Plus is
intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated
by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease.
Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always
advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
The Avocado probably originated in southern Mexico sometime between 7,000 and
5,000 B.C., and was cultivated from the Rio Grande to central Peru by 500 B.C.
This nutritious fruit has been a part of the New World diet for over two
thousand years. The Aztecs called the Avocado ahuacatl, and considered
it to be a sexual stimulant. The Mayans thought it to be a multifaceted beauty
treatment for smooth skin and lustrous hair, and the Spanish conquistadors, who
could not pronounce the Aztec name, changed it to a manageable aguacate.
The first English-language mention of Avocado was by Sir Henry Sloane in 1696,
and by 1871, when Judge R. B. Ord of Santa Barbara, California, successfully
introduced avocadoes to the United States with trees from Mexico, growers soon
afterward realized the potential of the Avocado as a valuable cash crop. A
single California Avocado tree can produce up to sixty pounds of fresh fruit
each year (it is a fruit - not a vegetable). It is a dense, perennial,
evergreen tree that may reach a height of eighty feet, and the fruit of the
Alligator pear (one of its common names) is highly nutritious and has a soft,
smooth, buttery flesh with a bland, nutlike flavor. The fat content of the flesh
is very high, and the center of the fruit has a large smooth stone (pit). The
skin of the Avocado has a coarse texture and may vary from green to maroon in
color. The size of the fruit may also vary from one to eight inches in length,
with a weight of between two ounces to four pounds. There are three cultivated
species of Avocado: Mexican, Guatemalan and West Indian, with many hybrid forms
among all three types. Although not low in calories, the Avocado is nourishment
dense and rich in more than twenty five essential nutrients, including more
protein, fiber, an exceptionally high potassium content, magnesium, vitamin E,
folate, thiamin, niacin and riboflavin than any other of the twenty most
commonly eaten fruits. The Avocado is naturally cholesterol and sodium free and
also includes chlorophyll, lutein, phosphorus, glutathione, beta-sitosterol,
alpha- and beta-carotene and B-vitamins.
Avocado is exceptionally nutritious; it is a wonderful source of phytonutrients,
which are thought to help combat many diseases. Its high potassium content helps
to balance electrolytes and prevent cramps. Moreover, Avocado acts as a
"nutrient booster" by enabling the body to absorb more fat-soluble nutrients,
such as alpha- and beta-carotene, as well as lutein.
High in carbohydrates, Avocados
are useful in the treatment of malnutrition, anorexic conditions and bulimia.
Avocado are thought to be very beneficial for good heart health. The fruit
contains healthy fatty acids, which help to reduce artery-clogging LDLs (the
"bad" cholesterol), while increasing HDLs (the "good" cholesterol). Recent
studies in a V. A. Hospital in Florida have indicated that blood samples taken
from those who ate Avocados showed a definite decrease in serum cholesterol.
This action works to improve
circulation to the heart, brain and elsewhere in the body, as well as reduce
hypertension. Avocado may help meet the dietary guidelines set forth by the
American Heart Association, which are to eat a diet that is low to moderate in
fat, and the fats should be primarily unsaturated and low in saturated fat and
cholesterol. Avocado is virtually the only fruit that contains monounsaturated
fat. Furthermore, the high fiber content has been said to be helpful in
achieving and maintaining good coronary health.
Avocados help in treating
constipation as a quick and fast-acting laxative that promotes a vigorous bowel
movement. The Avocado's high fiber content may also play a contributing role in
this important function.
The beta-sitosterol, a
phystosterol found in Avocado, is thought to have a beneficial effect
on prostate health. According to a paper presented by Dr. John Birkbeck,
Professor of Nutrition at Massey University in New Zealand, the sitosterol has
been used in the management of a variety of conditions, including benign
prostatic hypertrophy, as carried out in a trial reported in the British medical
journal, The Lancet, and in fact is the basis of drugs sold in Germany
for this purpose. There is also evidence that phytosterols may reduce the risk
of malignant prostate disease at least in animal models.
Avocados are a source of lutein, a carotenoid or pigment compound, which is also
found in other green vegetables like spinach, kale and broccoli, and it is
believed to promote good eye health. The lutein content is said to filter or
absorb cell-damaging, high-energy blue light from the visible light
spectrum, which may protect human cells in the eye's retina.
High in vitamin E, vitamin A and
lutein content, Avocado acts as an antioxidant, helping to reduce the harmful
free radicals that can occur in cells and contribute to cell and tissue damage.
The protective qualities that enable lutein to protect plant cells from sunlight
and oxidative stress may also protect human cells in the skin and other organs
and tissues from these same free-fradical damaging factors.
For thousands of years Avocado
has been considered a beauty treatment and to possess anti-ageing properties as
an emollient that helps to improve dry skin. It works internally (perhaps
because of its high vitamin E content) toward the surface of the skin, soothing
deep muscle inflammation; and applied topically, the oil extract keeps both the
skin soft and the hair lustrous. Avocado fights the ageing process and helps the
skin ward off the damaging effects of sun and wind. There is some evidence that
Avocado may be of some help in relieving symptoms of osteoarthritis when applied
topically (see below for related article).
Further combating the ageing
process, Avocado is said to help improve brain function. Steven Pratt, MD, who
is also on staff at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, California, wrote, in
2006 that Avocados may reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as
Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, since the reduced cholesterol and increased
blood circulation not only helps to lower blood pressure but also improves blood
flow to the brain, which is said to promote brain health, as hypertension is
considered a risk factor for the decline in cognitive abilities.
Regarding blood sugar balance, there is some
dispute with regard to Avocado's actions upon insulin production and glucose
levels. Recent American Diabetes Association findings present evidence that a
diet high in monounsaturated fat can improve glucose tolerance and may also
reduce insulin resistance allowing for better control of the disease. While the
new dietary guidelines warn that total fat intake should be limited, people with
diabetes are encouraged to replace saturated fats with heart-healthy
monounsaturated fats, and Avocados are the only fruit that provides this fat.
On the contrary, Avocados contain a rare
seven-carbon sugar called D-Mannoheptulose that is said to depress insulin
production and may, therefore, raise glucose levels and thus be effective in
cases of hypoglycemia. Obviously, there
has been nothing definitive written with regard to Avocado's evident affects on
blood sugar, but, hopefully, continuing research will light the way.
Concurrently, the D-Mannoheptulose is also the subject of an Oxford University
study regarding how this Avocado sugar extract may be helpful to patients with
malignant tumor cells by limiting glucose uptake of those cells.
Currently, there are no warnings or contraindication with the use of Avocado.
mentioned in an article from the
American Academy of Family Physicians
regarding usefulness as an alternative therapy for Osteoarthritis.
here to read the article from the American Academy
of Family Physicians' website on "Alternative Therapies for...Osteoarthritis."