California Avocados Promote `Green Envy' with Disease-Fighting Phytochemicals and Nutrients

SANTA ANA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dec. 26, 2002--The eyes will certainly be envious of the stomach after enjoying delicious California avocados, but when it comes to health benefits, the eyes may have more to gain.

California avocados get their green color from lutein, a carotenoid that can protect against eye disease such as cataracts and macular degeneration. Lutein was previously believed to be solely in green vegetables such as parsley, celery and spinach, but recent research from UCLA shows that avocados also contain the beneficial carotenoid.

"The color of a plant food can tell us so much about how it supports health," said Dr. David Heber, director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition in his book, "What Color Is Your Diet?" Initial UCLA lab tests suggest that in addition to fostering eye health, lutein may also help protect against prostate cancer -- another benefit of eating green vegetables and fruits like avocados.

Avocados are also the only fruit to contain a significant amount of monounsaturated fat, which helps to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and boost HDL (good) cholesterol. Monounsaturated fat is recommended in the diet because it is a nutrient that helps prevent heart disease.

Additionally, California avocados may help control a healthy body weight because of their satiety value and satisfying, rich taste. Research from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston shows that a weight loss plan incorporating heart-healthy monounsaturated fat can be more effective than a low-fat plan.

Heber and other nutrition experts, such as the Produce for Better Health Foundation, recommend incorporating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables in the diet to benefit from their protective nutrients and phytochemicals that can protect the heart, genes, vision and prevent common forms of cancer and other diseases.

California avocados rank highest (amongst the 20 most commonly eaten fruits) in important phytochemicals and nutrients including vitamin E, beta-sitosterol, glutathione, folate, potassium and magnesium. For more information about the verdant fruit, visit

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