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Avocados are high in fat, but in this case, it's good fat in the form of essential fatty acids that we all need desperately. Avocado fat is primarily monounsaturated (like olive oil), making avocados not only a delicious food but an important addition to diabetic meal plans and heart-healthy diets. Monounsaturates have been shown to be an effective means of lowering cholesterol levels in the blood and thereby possibly reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. In addition, because avocados are high in potassium and low in sodium, they provide the additional benefits of helping to reduce hypertension which is also a major risk factor in cardiovascular disease.

Eating avocados daily for three weeks improved blood cholesterol in middle-aged women better than a low-fat diet did, according to Australian research. The avocado diet reduced total cholesterol 8 percent compared with 5 percent for the low-fat diet. Most important, avocados improved the good HDL-cholesterol ratio 15 percent. The daily amount of avocado ranged from 1/2 avocado for small women to 1 1/2 for large women. Expected outcome: By eating avocados, heart patients could cut their risk of heart attack 10-20 percent and death rates 4-8 percent in 3-5 years.

According to the director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition, avocados include a cholesterol-lowering phytosterol called beta-sitosterol, and glutathione, a combination of three amino acids that act as an antioxidant. In animal studies, phytosterol has been shown to inhibit cholesterol absorption from the intestine, resulting in lower blood-cholesterol levels, and to inhibit the growth of tumors. Meanwhile, glutathione has been linked to the prevention of heart disease and various types of cancer, including cancer of the mouth and pharynx. Research studies have shown that avocados contain more than four times the beta-sitosterol found in other commonly eaten fruits, like bananas, apples, cantaloupes, grapes, plums and cherries. In addition, avocados contain twice as much beta-sitosterol as corn, green soybeans and olives. And the glutathione content of avocados is, ounce per ounce, three times that of bananas, apples, cantaloupes, grapes, plums or cherries.

Avocados are also the fruit with the highest concentration of vitamin E, and are the best fruit source of lutein, a compound that can help prevent cataracts and macular degeneration. New studies have shown that avocados may also protect against liver damage caused by the hepatitis C virus.

Avocados contain more potassium than 26 other popular fruits and juices (including raisins, bananas, peaches, cantaloupe and orange juice) and 19 popular vegetables, including broccoli, carrots, corn and green beans. Potassium has been shown to lower the risk of stroke by as much as 40%. It helps the body maintain normal water balance and is necessary for the normal functioning of nerves and muscles. Avocados also provide good quantities of beta carotene, vitamins B6, A, C, folic acid and copper, and contain almost 10% of an adult’s daily requirement of iron.

Perhaps someday we will no longer say “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but rather “an avocado a day keeps the doctor away.” And the best avocados are organic avocados shipped directly from the grove to your kitchen – the OrganicAvos.com way!

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