Avocado, the superfood loaded with monounsaturated fatty acids or MUFAs (primarily oleic acid) and vitamins A, C, and E, has been enjoying its lasting tryst with fame in nutrition-based studies and kitchens of the health conscious.
And now, research across the world is validating its usefulness for women at various stages of child bearing—pre-conception, pregnancy, and lactation or breastfeeding.
Seems the Aztecs knew their stuff; they were the ones who considered avocado as the “fertility fruit” for both men and women.
Avocados And Your Womb
Before we look at how avocados help expecting moms, here is an interesting tidbit: it takes nine months for an avocado to grow from a blossom to a ripe fruit. This might not be true for all varieties, but you have to agree that the link between the fruit’s appearance and the human womb is intriguing.
Thankfully, this is not the main connect between the delicious fruit’s goodness and pregnancy. Science has proven that avocado helps increase fertility and fulfills the nutritional demands a pregnant woman’s body makes to nourish a growing fetus.
Avocado Nutrients For Would-Be Moms
Given all its benefits, you might want to make avocado a staple in your pregnancy diet. A 2016 study published in the journal Nutrients reviewing the evidence that avocado is a unique source for pregnant and lactating women noted that avocados have nutrients important for fetal development: the fruit contains MUFAs that are good for health and provide preventive benefits from certain chronic diseases, fiber, and antioxidants. It also ranks low on the glycemic index as it is a carb that is digested and absorbed slowly.
Avocado Helps In Carotenoid Absorption
By helping absorb carotenoids, avocados can increase the levels of some carotenoids in the body by 15.3 times.
Carotenoids Prevent Cancer
Dietary carotenoids, or the healthy plant pigments found in a variety of colorful fruits and veggies, such as tomatoes, carrots, and bell pepper, help reduce the risk of certain cancers and eye diseases.1 These plant nutrients are best absorbed in the body when they are combined with a lipid-rich food, and avocado, being a lipid-rich fruit, helps your body absorb more of the healthy carotenoids, especially xanthophyll carotenoids, which are oxygen-containing antioxidants.2
Carotenoid Levels Drop During Pregnancy
As carotenoids cannot be produced by your body, their absorption becomes all the more critical during pregnancy because as you transfer the nutrients to your fetus through the placenta, the carotenoid levels fall quickly, leading to a deficiency in both you and your baby.3
Add Avocado To Your Salads
A 2005 study found that adding avocado to salsa increased the levels of two essential carotenoids in the body by 4.4 and 2.6 times the levels after the intake of avocado-free salsa. And adding 150 g avocado or 24 g avocado oil to salad increased the levels of three carotenoids by 7.2, 15.3, and 5.1 times.4
So go ahead and add the fruit to your salads or avocado oil to your salsa.
Avocado Folates Prevent Birth Defects
One skinned and deseeded California avocado of about 136 g will give you 121 mcg folate, which makes about 30% of your folate requirement.
Avocados are a good source of folate, a B vitamin, which is known to help conception and prevent birth defects in pregnancy by helping in the sound development of the spine, brain, and skull of the fetus, especially during the first four weeks of pregnancy. It is essential for cell division and the synthesis of amino acids and nucleic acids such as DNA.5
Pregnant women are advised to take multivitamins with 400 mcg of folate daily. One skinned and deseeded avocado of about 136 g contains 121 mcg folate, which can be a good natural source of folate in your daily diet as a would-be mother.6
A Note For Those Aiming To Be Moms
In fact, a daily dose of folate is advised for all women, whether they are trying to conceive or not. That way, even if your pregnancy is unplanned, you are safe. A dietary source of folate is as good as folate supplementation. So avocados are good for you too. But check with your gynecologist about the right dosage, which depends on individual requirement.
Avocados Make For A Mineral-Rich Food
One skinned and deseeded California avocado of about 136 g will give you 73 g phosphorus, 18 g calcium, 39 g magnesium, 0.83 g iron, 690 mg potassium, and 11 mg sodium.
Avocados are also rich in phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, and iron, all of which are beneficial for women in pregnancy. If you are suffering from leg cramps, which is rather common in this stage, you need to increase your intake of potassium-based foods. A high-potassium and low-sodium diet is particularly beneficial. Hass avocados, which are found to contain about 152 mg potassium and just 2 mg sodium per 30 g, are good options in this regard.7
A Note For Breast-Feeding Moms
Avocados MUFAs For Healthy Breast Milk
One of the main fatty acids found in breast milk is the MUFA oleic acid, which the lactating mother absorbs from her diet. As about 28 g of avocado gives 4.6 g total fat and 3 g MUFA, mainly in the form of oleic acid, you should include it in the diet to enrich your breast milk.8
So, aiming to conceive, pregnant, and lactating, whatever stage you are at, include a cup of avocado (136 g) to your daily salad along with other veggies and a dash of olive oil.
A Note Of Caution For Those With Latex Allergy
However, if you have a latex allergy, there’s a 40 percent chance you would be allergic to avocados too. And that might affect your baby too. In that case, abstain from using avocado in your food. Steer clear of cosmetics that use avocados too.9
So do the drill and stay safe. Once the allergy test gives you a clear chit, go to the grocery store and buy avocados. Eat them fresh, add to salad, mash them and make dips, or blend them with other fruits and veggies to make a delicious smoothie or shake.
|↑1||Johnson, Elizabeth J. “The role of carotenoids in human health.” Nutrition in Clinical Care 5, no. 2 (2002): 56-65.|
|↑2||Dreher, Mark L and Adrienne J Davenport. “Hass avocado composition and potential health effects.” Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 53, no. 7 (2013): 738-750.|
|↑3||Comerford, Kevin B., Keith T. Ayoob, Robert D. Murray, and Stephanie A. Atkinson. “The Role of Avocados in Maternal Diets during the Periconceptional Period, Pregnancy, and Lactation.” Nutrients 8, no. 5 (2016): 313.|
|↑4||Unlu, Bohn TT, Clinton SK and Schwartz SJ. “Carotenoid absorption from salad and salsa by humans is enhanced by the addition of avocado or avocado oil.” The Journal of Nutrition (2005 Mar; 135(3):431-6).|
|↑5||Prenatal Nutrition Guidelines for Health Professionals – Folate Contributes to a Healthy Pregnancy. Health Canada|
|↑6||USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28 slightly revised May, 2016 Basic Report 09038, Avocados, raw, California|
|↑7||Dreher, Mark L., and Adrienne J. Davenport. “Hass avocado composition and potential health effects.” Critical reviews in food science and nutrition53, no. 7 (2013): 738-750.|
|↑8||Kevin B, Comerford, Keith T Ayoob, Ribert D Murray and Stephanie A Atikson. “The role of avocados in maternal diets during the periconceptional period, pregnancy and lactation.” Nutrients 8, no. 5 (2016): 313.|
|↑9||Signs of Avocado Allergy. Curejoy|