Yes, Avocados are Paleo!
That Fatty Alligator Pear
Avocado is a unique type of fruit that is consists primarily of healthy fats. It belongs to the group called Persea Americana with over 50 different commercial varieties. Avocados are native to Central and South America and they are categorized into three basic types according to its origin. The first category are the West Indian avocados that originated in tropical lowlands and subtropics including countries like Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, Puerto Rico and others. The second category is called Guatemalan avocado that comes from Guatemala. The third ones are avocados that come from Mexico. The most common type of avocados is the Hass avocado.
Avocados are shaped like pear and its skin is bumpy and green in color, it is often called as alligator pear. Ripe avocados have yellow green flesh, silky, creamy texture and rich, nutty flavor. Its creamy texture is because of its high fat content. Smaller sized avocados tend to be more oily and higher in fat contents compared to larger sized avocados.
This rich, buttery fruit is the main ingredient in guacamole. Avocados are often used in salads, baked goods and desserts.
Nutritional Value of Avocados
Avocados are a good source of vitamins B6, C, E and K, copper, folate, potassium, pantothenic acid and dietary fiber. They contain an amazing array of phytonutrients including phytosterols, carotenoids and polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols.
Although avocados are fruits, they have high amounts of fats which are unusual for fruits as most fruits are high in sugar. They are roughly 77% fat (63% monounsaturated, 14% saturated, and 12% polyunsaturated). Alpha-linolenic acid which is an omega-3 fatty acid and oleic acid are the main fats found in avocados.
While avocados are green, they contain some carotenoids that give bright colors to other fruits and vegetables. Like vitamins, carotenoids are best absorbed when consumed with fat. This implies that an avocado is an ideal carotenoid delivery system.
Compared to other fruits and vegetables, avocados are more nutritious!
Health Benefits of Avocados
Aside from the astounding nutritional profile of avocados, numerous studies have shown that avocados have powerful beneficial effects on health.
Antioxidant and Anti-cancer Properties
The carotenoids and monounsaturated fats in avocados can both contribute to lowered risks of cancer. It contains natural antioxidants such as vitamins C and E which can neutralize the harmful effects of free radicals that causes cancer.
Blood Sugar Levels
The leaf extracts of avocados have been studied to lower blood sugar levels.
Heart disease is one of the common causes of death. Avocados contain beta-sitosterol which helps in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. The significant amounts of potassium in avocados act as vasodilator that relaxes the tension in the blood vessels, therefore reducing risks of heart attacks and strokes. Numerous studies have shown that avocados can lower bad cholesterol, triglycerides and increase good cholesterol therefore improving heart health.
Avocados contain both soluble and insoluble fibers that can add up bulk in stools thereby ensuring smooth passage of food in the gastrointestinal tract. These fibers also stimulate the gastric juices so that nutrients are absorbed efficiently. Fiber can also reduce symptoms of constipation and diarrhea.
Avocados are high in carotenoids including lutein and zeaxanthin which are important for eye health. These nutrients are linked to decreased risks of cataracts and macular degeneration which are common in older people.
Avocados when eaten together with other fruits and vegetables increase absorption of nutrients ad carotenoids that help protect the body from free radical damage.
So, Are Avocados Paleo?
Avocados are healthy and they are definitely Paleo. They are significantly nutritious and are great for health when incorporated into a balanced diet. Though they weren’t Paleolithic at all, they were present near that era and have provided remarkable health benefits.
Other Names for Avocado
What Experts Say About Avocado
“Slice, score, or mash your avo, drizzle with a little lemon or lime juice, add a dash of kosher salt, and you’ve got yourself a really nutritious snack. Keep in mind that, like nuts, avocados are very high in calories, so enjoy in moderation.” – Mark Sisson
“I would argue yes, since avocados have a plethora of other benefits as well.11, 12, 13 They are a great source of monounsaturated fatty acids, and also contain nearly 50% of your daily dose of pantothenic acid, among other nutrients.14, 15 As many who follow a Paleo diet know, the intake of fat along with carotenoids greatly improves their absorption.16, 17 When consuming a salad for example, without fat content present, absorption is hindered. So, employ a simple, inexpensive, and delicious fix by adding it to your vegetable medley!” – Loren Cordain
All you ever wanted to know about Avocado and Paleo
The Paleo Diet. Avocado’s Cancer Fighting Fat.
Mark’s Daily Apple. Smart Fuel
Ultimate Paleo Guide. Are Avocados Paleo?
Paleo Leap. Paleo Foods: Avocados
Impossible HQ. 7 Favorite Paleo Foods
Paleo Porn. Are Avocados Paleo?
California Avocados. Nutrition
The World’s Healthiest Foods. Avocados
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photo credit: wuestenigel Avocado