08 July, 2011
Avocados are often maligned as the fattiest of fruits, but the monounsaturated fat they supply can actually help reduce both total cholesterol levels and LDL, or bad, cholesterol levels. Avocados are cholesterol and sodium free, and a 1-cup serving provides 10 g of dietary fiber, 12.5 g of carbohydrates and 3 g of protein. Avocados are excellent sources of potassium and magnesium, and they supply a variety of essential vitamins. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends choosing unblemished firm fruit that yields slightly to pressure.
Avocados are an excellent source of B-complex vitamins; 1 cup of sliced avocados provides 40 percent of the daily recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of pantothenic acid, 30 percent of the RDA of folate and 29 percent of the RDA of vitamin B6. Pantothenic acid aids energy and hormone production. Folate plays vital roles in protein metabolism, red blood cell formation, homocystein regulation, and the prevention of serious and often fatal neural tube birth defects. Vitamin B6 is essential to protein metabolism and absorption, red blood cell formation and lipid metabolism.
A 1-cup serving of avocados also supplies 20 percent of the RDA of vitamin E. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that is integral to immune function. Vitamin E is also an antioxidant that helps protect cells against free radical damage. Most people in the United States do not consume enough vitamin E to fulfill their RDA, but clinical vitamin E deficiency is extremely rare in the U.S. Low-birth weight prematurely-born infants and individuals with malabsorption disorders are at highest risk for a vitamin E deficiency.
RDAs are calculated based on the amount of a nutrient 97 to 98 percent of people would have to consume to meet their nutritional needs, but not enough information about average vitamin K consumption exists to set an RDA for it. The National Academies of Science has set an adequate intake (AI) level for vitamin K of 90 mcg per day for adult women and 120 mcg per day for adult men. A 1-cup serving of avocados supplies 26 percent of the AI of vitamin K for adult men and 34 percent of the AI for adult women. Vitamin K aids in blood clotting and bone metabolism.
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