Nutrition and Health Benefits of the Avocado

When I was in my early 20's communes were a popular way for hippies to gather and live. I have a vivid memory of spending a weekend with a friend in Maine who was living in a commune while she and her husband were building their dream home in the woods. I met some of the people there, including a little toddler who was happily eating a piece of an avocado, the green from it all over him.  This was the first time I'd seen an Avocado, and since then have learned about some important health benefits of the avocado. I always have them around and eat them alone, cut into salad, or in my favorite guacamole recipe.

The Avocado was once a luxury food reserved for the tables of royalty, but now avocados are enjoyed around the world by people from all walks of life.

Research published in the January 2005 issue of the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry indicate that nutrients in avocados can work together to inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells. The analysis was conducted at UCLA where researchers discovered that avocados are the richest source of lutein among commonly eaten fruits.

Lutein is a carotenoid that acts as an antioxidant and has been linked to a reduced risk of prostate cancer in previous studies.

According to Dr. David Heber, director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition at the time of this typing, the study focused on inhibition of human prostate cancer cell growth when exposed to an extract of whole avocado fruit versus treatment with pure lutein. UCLA lab tests showed that when avocado extract was added to two types of prostate cancer cells, cell growth was inhibited by up to 60%, whereas purified lutein alone was ineffective.

In other words, when a single nutrient, lutein, was extracted from avocados, it did not offer the same anti-cancer results as the whole avocado extract. 

Dr. Heber commented: "What's really exciting about this study is that the results indicate that the carotenoids, vitamins, and diverse compounds in avocados might have additive or synergistic effects against prostate cancer compared with pure lutein alone".

The moral of this story seems to be that whole foods, in their original whole form, offer the best nutrition possible for the human body. 


Updated 11/3/18

Image Credit: moreharmony on pixabay

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