The 5 reasons why you should eat avocado 0:51
(CNN) – Avocado has become an increasingly popular food in recent years, with people mixing it into their smoothies or slicing it to top on toast.
This green fruit became a staple in kitchens around the world, and for good reason. Avocados have a number of health benefits and are a versatile ingredient when it comes to cooking, according to Lisa Drayer, CNN nutrition contributor.
She uses this fatty fruit in soups, sauces, and even chocolate truffles. Depending on how it’s cooked, avocados can be a great fat substitute that won’t make your desserts taste like avocado, Drayer noted.
In addition, they are packed with nutrients and can be a healthy addition to a balanced diet. Here are five ways avocados are good for you.
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1. Avocados are rich in omega-3s
They are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.
Often called LDL cholesterol, it’s known as “bad cholesterol,” Drayer said, while high-density lipoprotein, or HDL, is “good cholesterol.”
Most of the cholesterol in the human body is LDL cholesterol, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). People with elevated levels of this cholesterol are at increased risk of having a stroke or being diagnosed with heart disease, notes the CDC website.
2. They are a great source of potassium
A 100-gram (3.5-ounce) serving of avocado contains 485 milligrams (0.02 ounces) of potassium, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). By comparison, a banana has 358 milligrams (0.01 ounces) of potassium per 100 grams.
According to the US National Library of Medicine, this mineral helps regulate nerve function and transport nutrients to cells, while eliminating waste.
Potassium also helps fight high blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association. High sodium levels can increase blood pressure, according to the CDC, and potassium allows more sodium to leave the body through urine. This, in turn, lowers blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association.
3. They are full of monounsaturated fats
Monounsaturated fats are fat molecules with an unsaturated carbon bond, Drayer noted. In simple terms, it is an unsaturated fat that works to lower LDL cholesterol without affecting the good HDL cholesterol, he added.
When you have too much LDL cholesterol, it hardens at the edges of your arteries and narrows them, according to the Mayo Clinic. This reduces blood flow through the arteries, which can cause blood clots and other medical complications.
4. They are also rich in fiber
Avocados have nearly 7 grams (0.25 ounces) of fiber per 100 grams (3.5 ounces), according to the USDA.
Foods with more fiber tend to keep you full longer than foods with low fiber, indicates the Mayo Clinic. This makes avocados a great option for people who are watching their weight, he adds.
5. Avocados are rich in folate
This fatty food is rich in folate, with 81 micrograms per 100 grams of avocado, according to the USDA.
Folate is an important B vitamin for proper brain function and healthy pregnancies, Drayer said.
The National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements recommends that women of childbearing age take 400 micrograms (0.000014 ounces) of folate daily. Pregnant women should increase their intake to 600 micrograms (0.000021 ounces) a day, according to the agency.
The CDC mentions that folate can help prevent birth defects, specifically those that affect the baby’s brain and spine, during the first weeks of pregnancy. About half of pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, the article notes, so it’s important for all women of childbearing age to get enough folate as part of their regular diet.
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Avocados are a great source of nutrients and can help lower LDL cholesterol. Plus, they can keep you satisfied for longer.
Like other high-fat foods, avocados are calorie dense, which means there are a lot of calories per gram. A 100-gram (3.5-ounce) serving of avocado has 160 calories, according to the USDA.
As long as you are mindful of your consumption of avocados, since they are high in calories, they are a great addition to your diet, Drayer explained.
Guacamole is a popular avocado dish that is easy to make and a crowd favorite. Click here to see a classic recipe; and here’s a recipe with a unique twist on the sauce with dried tomato and bacon.