The Health Benefits of Avocado (Jamaican Pear)
In our commitment to provide information on fruits that are in season in Jamaica, we will look at the avocado, which Jamaicans call ‘pear.’ Previously, we looked at the health benefits of the guinep.
The avocado is grown on trees all over Jamaica and has been a favorite among Jamaicans for years. The famous ‘bulla and pear’ snack is a combination of avocado slices eaten with the bulla, which is is a Jamaican round cake.
Jamaican Misconception about the Avocado
The greatest misconception about the avocado (Jamaican pear) is that it is full of fat, so it is not good for you. On the contrary, the avocado fat is one of the healthiest fat in the world. The healthy fat of the avocado contributes in no small part, to the fact that the fruit is on almost every list of “the healthiest fruit in the world.”
Let us take a look at the health benefits of the avocado. First of all, let’s look at the composition of the avocado.
Here are some of the most abundant nutrients, in a single 3.5 ounce (100 gram) serving:
- Vitamin K: 26% of the RDA.
- Folate: 20% of the RDA.
- Vitamin C: 17% of the RDA.
- Potassium: 14% of the RDA.
- Vitamin B5: 14% of the RDA.
- Vitamin B6: 13% of the RDA.
- Vitamin E: 10% of the RDA.
- Also contains small amounts of Magnesium, Manganese, Copper, Iron, Zinc, Phosphorous, Vitamin A, B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin) and B3 (Niacin).
This is coming with 160 calories, 2 grams of protein and 15 grams of healthy fats. Although it contains 9 grams of carbs, 7 of those are fiber so there are only 2 “net” carbs, making this a low-carb friendly plant food.
To add even more to its health benefits, avocados do not contain any cholesterol or sodium, and are low in saturated fat. Considering the contribution that sodium, cholesterol and saturated fat makes to heart disease, we see how heart-healthy the avocado actually is.
- Has more potassium than banana – the banana is heralded for its high potassium content, with a 100 gram (3.5 ounce) serving of avocado containing 14% of the RDA, compared to 10% in bananas. Several studies show that having a high potassium intake is linked to reduced blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure.
- Loaded With Heart-Healthy Monounsaturated Fatty Acids – Contrary to the belief of many Jamaicans, the Monounsaturated Fat in the avocado is heart healthy. Although the avocado is one of the fattiest plant foods in existence, the majority of the fat is made from oleic acid. This is a monounsaturated fatty acid that is also the major component in olive oil. Oleic acid is believed to give olive oil its beneficial effects. Oleic acid has been linked to reduced inflammation and been shown to have beneficial effects on genes linked to cancer.
- Loaded with fiber – Fiber is indigestible plant matter that can contribute to weight loss, reduce blood sugar spikes and is strongly linked to a lower risk of many diseases. A 100 gram (3.5 ounce) serving of avocado contains 7 grams of fiber, which is 27% of the recommended daily amount.
- Can lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels – studies have shown that eating avocados can:
- Reduce total cholesterol levels significantly.
- Reduce blood triglycerides by up to 20%.
- Lower LDL (bad) cholesterol by up to 22%.
- Increase HDL (the “good”) cholesterol by up to 11%.
- The peel and the seed has more phytonutrient concentration than the fruit itself
Health Benefits of Avocado
Having looked at what makes the avocado special, let us look some of the health benefits.
- Healthy for the heart
- Fights cancer
- Is a natural detox
- Good for the eyes
- Helps prevent osteoporosis
- Lowers risk of depression
- Improves digestion
- Helps prevent birth defects (through high folate content)
- Protects from chronic diseases – including: coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and certain gastrointestinal diseases.
- Lowers blood pressure
- Lowers cholesterol levels
- Improves insulin sensitivity
- Enhances weight loss for obese individuals.
- May help relieve symptoms of arthritis
- Helps to convert carotenoids into active Vitamin A
- Contains wide variety of antioxidant nutrients
- Contains wide variety of anti-inflammatory nutrients
The next time you see an avocado, don’t pass it by. It is on every list of “the healthiest fruits in the world” and helps prevent and improve many common health problems. With Jamaica’s high incidence of heart disease, cancer and hypertension (high blood pressure), the avocado can help in natural treatments of these major diseases and more. The avocado (Jamaican pear) is not only delicious, it is also extremely nutritious!