- 3 Haas avocados, halved, seeded and peeled
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin / caraway seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/2 medium onion, diced
- 1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
- 2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
- 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
- 1 clove garlic, minced
In a large bowl place the scooped avocado pulp and lime juice, toss to coat. Drain, and reserve the lime juice, after all of the avocados have been coated. Using a potato masher add the salt, cumin, and cayenne and mash. Then, fold in the onions, tomatoes, cilantro, and garlic. Add 1 tablespoon of the reserved lime juice. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour and then serve.
12 Proven Health Benefits of Avocado
The avocado is a rather unique type of fruit.
Most fruit consists primarily of carbohydrate, while avocado is high in healthy fats.
Numerous studies show that it has powerful beneficial effects on health.
Here are 12 health benefits of avocado, that are supported by scientific research.
This fruit is prized for its high nutrient value and is added to all sorts of dishes due to its good flavor and rich texture. It is the main ingredient in guacamole.
These days, the avocado has become an incredibly popular food among health conscious individuals. It is often referred to as a superfood… which is not surprising given its health properties (2).
There are many kinds of avocados, and the shape (from pear-shaped to round) and color (from green to black) can vary between them. They can also weigh anywhere from 8 ounces (220 grams) to 3 pounds (1.4 kg).
The most popular type is called Hass avocado.
It is often called “alligator pear,” which is very descriptive because it tends to be shaped like a pear and have green, bumpy skin… like an alligator.
The yellow-green flesh inside the fruit is eaten, but the skin and seed are discarded.
Avocados are very nutritious and contain a wide variety of nutrients, including 20 different vitamins and minerals.
- Vitamin K: 26% of the RDA.
- Folate: 20% of the RDA.
- Vitamin C: 17% of the RDA.
- Potassium: 14% of the RDA.
- Vitamin B5: 14% of the RDA.
- Vitamin B6: 13% of the RDA.
- Vitamin E: 10% of the RDA.
- Then it contains small amounts of Magnesium, Manganese, Copper, Iron, Zinc, Phosphorous, Vitamin A, B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin) and B3 (Niacin).
This is coming with 160 calories, 2 grams of protein and 15 grams of healthy fats. Although it contains 9 grams of carbs, 7 of those are fiber so there are only 2 “net” carbs, making this a low-carb friendly plant food.
Avocados do not contain any cholesterol or sodium, and are low in saturated fat. I personally don’t think that matters, but this is one of the reasons they are favored by many “old school” experts who still believe these things are inherently harmful.
BOTTOM LINE:Avocado is a green, pear-shaped fruit often called an “alligator pear.” It is loaded with healthy fats, fiber and various important nutrients.
Potassium is a nutrient that most people aren’t getting enough of (4).
This nutrient helps maintain electrical gradients in the body’s cells and serves various important functions.
Avocados are actually very high in potassium… with a 100 gram (3.5 ounce) serving containing 14% of the RDA, compared to 10% in bananas, which are a typical high potassium food (5).
Several studies show that having a high potassium intake is linked to reduced blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure (6).
BOTTOM LINE:Potassium is an important mineral that most people don’t get enough of. Avocados are very high in potassium, which should support healthy blood pressure levels.
Again, avocado is a high fat food.
In fact, 77% of the calories in it are from fat, making it one of the fattiest plant foods in existence.
But they don’t just contain any fat… the majority of the fat in avocado is oleic acid.
This is a monounsaturated fatty acid that is also the major component in olive oil and believed to be responsible for some of its beneficial effects.
BOTTOM LINE:Avocados and avocado oil are high in monounsaturated oleic acid, a “heart healthy” fatty acid that is believed to be one of the main reasons for the health benefits of olive oil.
Fiber is another nutrient found in relatively large amounts in avocado.
A distinction is often made between soluble and insoluble fiber.
Soluble fiber is known to be able to feed the friendly gut bacteria in the intestine, which are very important for the optimal function of our bodies (14).
A 100 gram (3.5 ounce) serving of avocado contains 7 grams of fiber, which is 27% of the recommended daily amount.
About 25% of the fiber in avocado is soluble, while 75% is insoluble (15).
BOTTOM LINE:Avocados tend to be high in fiber, about 7% by weight, which is very high compared to most other foods. Fiber can have various important benefits for weight loss and metabolic health.
Heart disease is the most common cause of death in the world (16).
It is known that several blood markers are linked to an increased risk.
This includes cholesterol, triglycerides, inflammatory markers, blood pressure and various others.
The effects of avocado on some of these risk factors has been studied in 8 human controlled trials.
These are studies where people are split into groups… one group is instructed to eat avocados, while the other is not. Then researchers see what happens to their blood markers over time.
- Reduce total cholesterol levels significantly.
- Reduce blood triglycerides by up to 20%.
- Lower LDL cholesterol by up to 22%.
- Increase HDL (the “good”) cholesterol by up to 11%.
One of the studies showed that including avocado in a low-fat vegetarian diet led to improvements in the cholesterol profile (24).
Unfortunately, all of the human studies were small (13-37 subjects) and short-term (1-4 weeks), but the results were impressive nonetheless.
BOTTOM LINE:Numerous studies have shown that eating avocado can improve heart disease risk factors like Total, LDL and HDL cholesterol, as well as blood triglycerides.
One study looked at the dietary habits and health of people who eat avocados.
They analyzed data from 17,567 participants in the NHANES survey in the U.S.
Avocado consumers were found to be much healthier than people who didn’t eat avocados.
People who ate avocados regularly also weighed less, had a lower BMI and significantly less belly fat. They also had more HDL (the “good”) cholesterol.
However… correlation does not imply causation and there is no guarantee that the avocados caused these people to be in better health.
Therefore I don’t think this particular study carries much weight.
BOTTOM LINE:One dietary survey found that people who ate avocados had a much higher nutrient intake and had a lower risk of metabolic syndrome.
When it comes to nutrients, the total amount of them is not the only thing that matters.
We also need to be able to absorb them… move them from the digestive tract and into the body, where they can be used.
Some nutrients are “fat soluble,” meaning that they need to be combined with fat in order to be utilized.
This includes vitamins A, D, E and K… along with antioxidants like carotenoids.
One study showed that adding avocado or avocado oil to either salad or salsa can increase antioxidant absorption by 2.6 to 15-fold (26).
So… not only is avocado highly nutritious, it can dramatically increase the nutrient value of other plant foods that you are eating.
This is an excellent reason to always include a healthy fat source when you eat veggies. Without it, a lot of the beneficial plant nutrients will go to waste.
BOTTOM LINE:Studies have shown that eating avocado or avocado oil with veggies can dramatically increase the amount of antioxidants you take in.
Not only do avocados increase antioxidant absorption from other foods, they are also high in antioxidants themselves.
Therefore, eating avocados should have benefits for eye health over the long term.
BOTTOM LINE:Avocados are high in antioxidants, including Lutein and Zeaxanthin. These nutrients are very important for eye health and lower the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts.
There is limited evidence that avocado may be beneficial in preventing cancer.
One study showed that it may help reduce side effects of chemotherapy in human lymphocytes (31).
Avocado extract has also been shown to inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells (32).
However, keep in mind that these studies were done in isolated cells and don’t really prove anything about what happens in a living, breathing human.
BOTTOM LINE:Some studies in isolated cells have shown that nutrients in avocados may have benefits in preventing prostate cancer, and lowering side effects of chemotherapy in some cells.
Arthritis is a common problem in Western countries. There are many types of arthritis, and these are often chronic problems that people have for the rest of their lives.
Whether avocados themselves can have this effect, and not just the extract, remains to be seen.
BOTTOM LINE:Studies have shown that an extract from avocado and soybean oils can significantly reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis.
There is some evidence that avocados are a weight loss friendly food.
In one study, people were split into groups. One group was instructed to eat a meal that contained avocado, the other a similar meal without avocado.
Then they were asked a series of questions related to hunger and satiety.
The people eating the avocado felt 23% more satisfied and had a 28% lower desire to eat over the next 5 hours (35).
If this holds true in the long-term, then including avocados in your diet could help you naturally eat fewer calories and have an easier time sticking to a healthy diet.
Not only are avocados healthy, they’re also incredibly delicious and go with all sorts of foods.
You can add them to salads and various sorts of recipes, or you can simply scoop them out with a spoon and eat them plain.
They have a creamy, rich, fatty texture and blend well with various other ingredients.
A notable mention is guacamole, which is arguably the most famous use of avocados. It includes avocado along with ingredients like salt, garlic, lime and a few others depending on the recipe.
An avocado often takes some time to ripen and it should feel slightly soft when ripe. The nutrients in avocado can oxidize soon after fleshing it, but if you add lemon juice then that shouldn’t happen as quickly.
If you’re serious about adding avocado to your diet, then I highly recommend that you watch this video about how to pick, prepare and eat avocados.
At the end of the day, avocados are an awesome food. They’re loaded with nutrients, many of which are lacking in the modern diet.
They are weight loss friendly, heart healthy and… last but not least, taste incredible.
What more could you ask for in a food?
Caraway seeds are typically used as a popular spice to add flavor and punch to a variety dishes. Their warming, peppery flavor and fragrance make them a firm favorite in traditional European cuisine especially in the Mediterranean region.
It is unsurprising therefore that caraway seeds, much like their other family members, confer a variety of health benefits to give your cooking and your health the boost it needs.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF CARAWAY SEEDS
1) DIGESTIVE HEALTH
We have already mentioned what a great source of dietary fiber caraway seeds are. Adding sufficient fiber to your diet is vital for proper digestive function. It can help settle the stomach and stave off common stomach problems including indigestion, bloating, constipation and diarrhea.
The fiber found in caraway seeds helps add bulk and mass to the food you have consumed as it passes through the digestive tract making it easier to pass through the body before being excreted. They are also useful if you are one of the many people suffering from chronic stomach conditions like IBS.
2) WEIGHT LOSS
Foods which are high in fiber are not only good for your digestive health but they are also believed to be good for the waistline. In the case of caraway seeds, there is scientific evidence to back up the belief.
Recent research conducted in Malaysia found that an extract made from caraway seeds helped participants not only to lose weight but also body fat and BMI.
The study was done using 70 female volunteers who were either obese or overweight but otherwise in good health. The women were separated into groups and either treated with caraway seed extract or given a placebo for 90 days. Apart from being given caraway no changes were made regarding diet or exercise.
By the end of the trial, those who took the caraway extract had lost an average of over 6 pounds compared to a slight weight gain among the placebo group. People in the caraway group also experienced considerable improvements in BMI, body fat percentage and an increase in muscle mass.
Those in the group given caraway also saw a two inch reduction in waist circumference. (1)
3) HEART HEALTH
Foods which are rich in fiber like caraway seeds can help reduce LDL cholesterol levels in the body. Reducing overall and LDL cholesterol in turn reduces your risk of developing heart disease and stroke. The natural antioxidants found in caraway seeds also play a vital role in cardiac health by neutralizing the damaging effects of free radicals.
4) MENSTRUAL CRAMPS
Many women suffer from extreme cramps during their period as the uterine wall contracts to shed its inner lining. While many women find relief in pharmaceuticals, there are a number of more natural treatments available that may just relieve their spasms. One of the purported uses of caraway seeds is to help women overcome the pain of spasms during menstruation.
It is a safe and natural alternative treatment and is so easy to do that it is certainly worth trying.
- Just add a teaspoon or so of caraway seeds to a cup of boiling water and allow it to steep.
- After ten or so minutes, strain the seeds away , flavor with some honey and drink up.
For the millions of people suffering from poor sleep patterns or insomnia, caraway seeds may provide a natural solution. The reason that you may get some comfort from caraway seeds is that they are high in magnesium which is linked to better quality and duration of sleep.
They also help to regulate your metabolism which can also help you to overcome sleeping issues. Try a cup of caraway tea before bed and see if it helps.
Apart from the uses listed above, caraway seeds are used for respiratory issues especially to clear coughs. They are also used to sweeten the breath and combat gum disease. An essential oil made from caraway can be applied topically to improve the appearance of the skin, scalp and hair.
HOW TO CONSUME CARAWAY SEEDS
Caraway seeds are available the year round in either seed or ground powder form. After buying your seeds, you should store them in a cool and dark area where they should keep well for a number of months.
Caraway seeds have a sweet, warm pepper like aroma and are a popular spice in Mediterranean cuisine. You will find a number of recipes which call for caraway or you can simply experiment and try them in your own recipes.
Caraway seeds can be used on bread, biscuits and even sprinkled on cheese or salad.
To improve your digestion or deal with menstrual pain, you can chew on the seeds but the most effective and satisfying way to take them is to make a caraway tea.
- Simply bring a cup of water to the boil, add a heaped teaspoon of caraway seeds and allow the mixture too steep for at least 10 minutes.
- Strain, sweeten as desired with honey and drink up several times a day.
WHAT ARE CARAWAY SEEDS?
Caraway grows profusely all around Europe, Northern Africa and parts of Western Asia. It is a biennial herb that blooms every other year with white or cream colored flowers. The caraway plant which grows to a height of two feet bears seeds which appear very similar to cumin seeds.
The seeds are dark brown, crescent shaped with several stripes running along the surface. The plant is harvested early in the day, bundled and allowed to dry under the sun before the seeds are threshed and extracted manually or with a machine.
Caraway seeds are extremely healthy and nutritious. They contain a wide variety of important vitamins and minerals and also act as a natural antioxidant. If you are wondering why you should be eating caraway seeds, here are some facts that may persuade you.
- Caraway seeds contain loads of important dietary fiber. A 100 gram serving of these seeds contains a whopping 38 grams of fiber which is 100%..that’s right 100% of your recommended daily allowance of fiber. For those of you who feel you need to increase your fiber intake, look no further than the caraway seed.
- Caraway seeds get their distinctive flavor and fragrance from chemical compounds called caveoles and carvones. These chemical compounds are largely responsible for several of the medicinal properties of the spice including its antioxidant, carminative and digestive properties.
- Caraway seeds are a great source of diverse minerals including copper, potassium, iron, calcium, selenium, magnesium, manganese and zinc.
- We all know that calcium has bone benefits while iron and copper are essential for the body to produce red blood cells.
- Potassium helps our heart work effectively and to maintain both healthy blood pressure and steady heart rate.
- Zinc has a number of important functions in the body including growth, development, digestion and sperm production.
- Caraway seeds also provide you with a number of very important vitamins including several of the the B family of vitamins, vitamins A, C and E.
- Caraway seeds are not only eaten. An essential oil is also made from the plant with a wide variety of health benefits. The essential oils made from caraway contain numerous chemical compounds such as limonene, pinen, carveol, thujone and aldehyde. These compounds have been well studied and are known to have many therapeutic actions including antioxidant activity and digestive benefits.
Who knew a tablespoon of red powder could contain so much goodness? Meet paprika, the pepper-based spice that helps your body steer clear of disease.
From its discovery in the New World in the 1400s to the current use around the world of this handy ingredient, paprika has been much loved since entering the scene when explorers brought some home to Europe, Africa and Asia. Hungary currently produces what’s widely known as the highest-quality paprika, and Hungarian chefs are famous for their preparation of goulash with paprika.
Recently, it’s been found that paprika not only helps your body fight inflammation and disease in general, but it may even have specific targeting to prevent and fight autoimmune conditions and certain cancers. Read further to find out more about these breakthrough discoveries and the benefits you can reap from the popular nightshade vegetable spice.
1. Rich in Antioxidants
Perhaps the most impressive quality of paprika is the amount of antioxidantpower it packs in just one serving. Peppers and products created from them have long been understood to have disease-fighting properties, due in large part to their ability to fight oxidative stress. (1)
There are many antioxidants in paprika, including carotenoids, which are found to varying degrees in different types of paprika. (2) Carotenoids are a type of pigment found in many plants that serve the body as antioxidants, preventing damage from oxidative stress (caused by an overabundance of free radicals in the body) and helping the body fight disease. These are fat-soluble nutrients, meaning they’re absorbed best when consumed alongside a healthy fat source, such as avocado.
The carotenoids commonly found in paprika are beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin and lutein/zeaxanthin. Beta-carotene has many benefits, from skin protection to respiratory health to pregnancy support. The best-known benefit of beta-cryptoxanthin is the ability to lower inflammation in disorders such as arthritis. (3) And, of course, lutein and zeaxanthin are known for their roles in the health of the eyes, helping fight off molecules that are known to cause damage that leads to conditions like macular degeneration.
In general, vitamin A is known for the way it decreases inflammation through antioxidant properties, and since inflammation is at the root of most diseases, getting enough of the nutrient is important in living a life that’s free of disease. And that’s just one of the paprika benefits.
2. Aids in Treatment for Autoimmune Conditions
A groundbreaking study conducted in 2016 found that capsaicin, the ingredient in chili peppers and other hot varieties that provide the heat — like paprika — may have incredible power against autoimmune conditions.
These often debilitating illnesses stem from the immune system attacking the host’s body. Symptoms of autoimmune diseases affect brain, skin, mouth, lungs, sinus, thyroid, joints, muscles, adrenals and gastrointestinal tract functions. However, while autoimmune disorders are not curable, this 2016 study found that capsaicin stimulates biological reactions consistent with the treatment of autoimmune disease. This could be an incredible new body of research in the search to find ways to treat disease by dietary means. (4)
3. May Help Treat and Prevent Cancer
The capsaicin found in spicy paprika isn’t useful in treating just one type of disease — it also has great potential in treating and/or preventing cancer. Operating in several different mechanisms, capsaicin seems to be responsible for altering signaling pathways that limit cancer growth and even suppress genes that tell tumors to increase in size. (5)
In particular, one paprika benefit may be its ability to protect against gastric cancer. A 2012 study of gastric cancer states, “Gastric cancer is the second most common cancer worldwide and the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths.” Over 80 percent of patients diagnosed with this form of cancer die within a year of their diagnoses or recurrence of the disease. (6)
The good news is that capsaicin has potent anti-inflammatory effects on the incidence of gastric cancer, as discovered in 2016 in early research out of Japan. (7)
There are many natural cancer treatments that have been effective in aiding treatment, so if you’re at risk of developing this disease, it’s wise to use paprika as one ingredient in a cancer-prevention lifestyle.
4. Potentially Useful in the Treatment of Diabetes
Like many nutrient-rich foods and spices, paprika seems to have the potential to help regulate blood sugar levels and assist in treating diabetes. When patients with diabetes consume paprika containing capsaicin, they better process the digestion and processing of sugars in the blood. In addition, women with diabetes also tend to birth babies too large for their gestational ages, and capsaicin supplementation decreases the incidence of this as well. (8)
5. Good for the Eyes
Because of the large amount of antioxidants present in this spice, such as vitamin A, lutein and zeaxanthin, it’s already clear that paprika benefits you by helping prevent diseases that damage your eyes.
In addition to these nutrients, the existence of vitamin B6 in paprika also helps keep your eyes healthy. People who consume high amounts of B6 see a slower onset of macular degeneration and other eye-related diseases, especially when consumed with large quantities of folate.
6. Keeps Your Heart Strong
Spicing up your life with paprika helps keep your heart and cardiovascular system in good shape. Vitamin B6 helps lower high blood pressure and heal damaged blood vessels. It even treats anemia by creating hemoglobin in the blood responsible for transporting oxygen through the bloodstream.
Paprika also contains capsanthin, which is touted, according to one study, as the main carotenoid in the spice. Little, however, is known about this antioxidant, especially in comparison to the other common antioxidants. As more research is done, one source found that capsanthin in paprika caused an increase in good HDL cholesterol, which is another way paprika can keep your cardiovascular system working well. (9)