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Benefits of avocados: 5 reasons they’re good for you

Green fruit has become a staple in kitchens around the world, and for good reason. Avocados offer a variety of health benefits and are a versatile ingredient when cooking, said Lisa Drayer, CNN collaborator on nutrition.

She uses fatty fruits in soups, dips and even chocolate truffles. Depending on how you cook with them, avocados can be a great fat substitute that won’t make your desserts taste like avocado, she noted.

They are packed with nutrients and can be a beneficial addition to a balanced diet. Here are five reasons why avocados are good for you:

1. Avocados are rich in omega-3s

They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help lower low density lipoprotein cholesterol. Often referred to as LDL cholesterol, it’s known as “bad cholesterol,” Drayer said, while high-density lipoprotein, or HDL, is “good cholesterol.”

The majority of cholesterol in the human body is LDL cholesterol, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People with high levels of this cholesterol have an increased risk of having a stroke or being diagnosed with heart disease, the CDC website noted.

2. They are an excellent source of potassium

A 100-gram (3.5-ounce) serving of avocado contains 485 milligrams (0.02 ounces) of potassium, according to the US Department of Agriculture. In comparison, a banana contains 358 milligrams (0.01 ounces) of potassium per 100 grams.
The mineral helps regulate nerve function and move nutrients around cells while removing waste, according to the United States National Library of Medicine.
Potassium also works to fight high blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association. High sodium levels can raise blood pressure, the CDC said, and potassium allows more sodium to leave the body through our urine. This in turn lowers our blood pressure, the American Heart Association said.

3. They’re packed with monounsaturated fats

Monounsaturated fats are fat molecules with an unsaturated carbon bond, Drayer said. Simply put, it’s an unsaturated fat that lowers LDL cholesterol without affecting good HDL cholesterol, she added.

When you have too much LDL cholesterol, it hardens along the edges of your arteries and narrows them, according to the Mayo Clinic. This reduces blood flow in the arteries, which can cause blood clots and other medical complications.
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4. They are also high in fiber

Avocados contain 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 low in fiber, the Mayo Clinic said. This makes avocados a great choice for people who are watching their weight, according to the Mayo Clinic.

5. Avocados are high in folate

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The fatty fruit is high in folate, with 81 micrograms (0.000028 ounces) per 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of avocado, according to the USDA.

Folate is a B vitamin that’s important for healthy brain function and healthy pregnancies, Drayer said.

The National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements recommends that women of childbearing age consume 400 micrograms (0.000014 ounces) of folate per day. Pregnant women should increase their intake to 600 micrograms (0.000021 ounces) per day, according to the agency.
Folate can help prevent birth defects, especially those that affect a baby’s brain and spine, during the first few weeks of pregnancy, according to the CDC. About half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, according to the article, which is why it’s important that all women of childbearing age get enough folate as part of their regular diet.

The bottom line

Avocados are a great source of nutrients and can help lower LDL cholesterol. Moreover, 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 contains 160 calories, according to the USDA.

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As long as you are aware of your consumption of avocados because they are high in calories, they are a great addition to your diet, Drayer said.

Guacamole is a popular avocado-based dish that’s easy to prepare and a crowd favorite. Here is a classic recipe as well as a recipe with a unique dip with sundried tomatoes and bacon.

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