Bananas are lauded as the kings of potassium, but it’s time they pass that title to their superior cousin, the avocado. That’s right. Avocados have three times the potassium of bananas, a mineral essential for healthy heart function, and who doesn’t want a healthy heart? But did you know avocados are literally packed with other health-boosting components? That’s why they deserve a day of recognition.
Antioxidants and Redox Signaling
Antioxidants are constantly talked about lately, but what exactly do they do? To understand this, we must first understand free radicals and oxidative stress. When free radicals attack cells, it causes oxidative stress and a decrease in redox signaling molecules. Oxidative stress targets cells, harming and weakening them, and weak or injured cells are prone to sickness and the inability to reproduce. Oxidative stress may be the underlying cause of many major health problems.
When cells are under attack or need to be healed or replaced, they send out a tiny signal called a redox signaling molecule. This molecule signals to the genes for help, and the genes respond by replacing the distressed cell with a new, healthy one. Antioxidants and redox signaling are like the (whole wheat) bread and butter of good health. Diets rich in antioxidants help boost redox signaling molecules, and when these molecules are functioning right, so is your health. And guess what food is rich in antioxidants? Avocados.
Let’s be real. People are scared of eating fat because they are worried it will go straight to their waistlines. But did you know fat is essential to good health? The brain is the fattiest organ in the human body — it needs fat to function properly. Certain vitamins and minerals can only be absorbed if they are consumed with fat. Monounsaturated fats actually decrease bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol, which lowers the risk of heart disease. Unfortunately, not all fats are created equal. But the fat found in avocados is definitely the kind of fat you want to eat.
- Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fats, which makes them great for heart health and lowering cholesterol
- Avocados help the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins
- Avocado fat contains anti-inflammatory properties
Avocados and Cancer
Now that you know how amazing avocados are, let’s put them on a well-deserved pedestal. Avocados contain anti-cancer components. Yes, you read that right. Avocados have the potential to fight cancer. How?
- Lutein: This cancer-fighting carotenoid is found in avocados. In fact, avocados have more of this cancer-fighter than any other fruit or vegetable.
- Glutathione: This tripeptide is composed of amino acids that function as an antioxidant. Glutathione lowers the rates of pharyngeal and oral cancers.
- Avocados may even fight leukemia. The molecules contained in avocados target acute myeloid leukemia stem cells but leave healthy cells alone.
So if you’re looking for a powerful food that’s easy to prepare and readily available, add avocados to your grocery list. You can eat them on toast, mashed up into guacamole, in green smoothies, or plain, but no matter how you eat them, your heart, cells, and brain will be better for it.