One Avocado has a Surprising Effect on Your Brain

In All Health Watch, Diet and Nutrition, Featured Article, General Health

Eating one avocado a day dramatically increases levels of a nutrient in your brain that keeps you mentally sharp.

That’s the recent finding of Tufts University researchers. They gathered 40 healthy adults ages 50 and over and tested them for lutein in their brain.

Lutein is a little-known plant nutrient that keeps brain cells healthy. It has previously been found to protect against cognitive decline. Avocados are one of the foods highest in lutein.1

Scientists had half the subjects eat one avocado a day for six months. The control group added either one potato or one cup of chickpeas to their diet each day. Potatoes and chickpeas have very low levels of lutein. Both groups were instructed not to change anything else in their normal diet.2

By the end of the study, the avocado eaters experienced a 25% increase in lutein levels. The control group showed no increase.

But more impressive, subjects eating avocados showed mental gains. The researchers said their memory “significantly increased.” Their problem-solving abilities also improved. The control group showed no improvement.3

Other foods such as leafy greens, broccoli, and zucchini are also high in lutein. But avocados are better at raising brain levels of the nutrient, researchers said. That’s because their high fat content helps your body absorb lutein.4

Dr. Elizabeth Johnson is a professor of nutrition at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University. She led the study.

Dr. Johnson said that eating one avocado a day is “particularly effective at enriching neural lutein levels. A balanced diet that includes fresh avocados may be an effective strategy for cognitive health.”

Her study recently was published in the journal Nutrients.

4 Other Avocado Health Benefits

For years, avocados were wrongly shunned by mainstream doctors for being fatty and high in calories. One medium California avocado contains about 227 calories. But in the Tufts study, not one of the subjects put on weight. Some actually had slight weight loss.5

And the fats in avocado are good fats. They are mostly heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.6

Today, even conventional health authorities recognize that avocados have wide-ranging health benefits:

Lower inflammation: Adding them to your diet keeps disease-causing inflammation in check. One study found that eating avocados regularly cuts whole-body inflammation almost in half.7

Fight cancer. Avocados stop the formation of cancerous and precancerous cells. The phytochemicals in avocados prevent a substance called adenosine triphosphate (ATP) from reaching cancer cells. ATP gives cancer the energy it needs to grow and spread. Avocados help kill cancer cells while shielding your normal cells from damage.8

Protect your heart. Avocados are one of the best sources of healthy fats. Their high levels of monounsaturated fatty acids lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase your HDL (good) cholesterol. They’re also high in vitamin E, which can reduce your risk of a heart attack.

Control weight. The myth that avocados are fattening just isn’t true. Their high levels of monounsaturated fats make you feel full… So you eat less. One study found that adding half an avocado to your lunch makes you 40% less likely to snack before dinner.

One more thing… We normally recommend organic fruits and vegetables. But avocados are a different story.

Their skin prevents insects from getting inside. This means farmers use fewer chemicals on them. And the small amount of pesticide sprayed on them generally doesn’t reach the flesh. Therefore, there is no need to buy organic.

Eating an avocado every day is a simple—and tasty—way to support your continued good health…and keep your brain sharp for years to come.

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1 http://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/9/9/919
2 https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-08/fl-nre082317.php
3 https://loveonetoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Love-One-Today-Avocado-Consumption-Increases-Macular-Pigment-Density-in-Older-Adults.pdf
4 https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-08/fl-nre082317.php
5 http://www.livestrong.com/article/292929-the-calories-in-one-medium-avocado/
6 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/08/26/avocado-health-facts-didnt-dont-know_n_3786419.html
7 http://www.healthline.com/nutrition/13-anti-inflammatory-foods#section4
8 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nalini-chilkov/avocados-a-super-cancer-f_b_632985.html