Let’s face it – avocados are popular, and that popularity is well deserved. Avocados are a tasty stone superfruit possessing high levels of various vitamins and health benefits that may prevent depression and improve eye and heart health. Whether they are served on toast, in hummus, or in a smoothie, avocados are everywhere – and so are their health benefits. However, there is a lesser known part of the avocado tree that may have just as many health benefits, and has been slept on for far too long.
The avocado is the fruit produced from a tree that dates back between 7,000 and 5,000 BC in south-central Mexico. Other early origins of the avocado tree are Guatemala and West India, but today avocados are cultivated around the globe including Europe, Asia, Australia, and South Africa. Traditionally, the plant has been used as a medicine to treat health issues such as hypertension, stomachaches, and diabetes. The flesh and seed of the avocado tree are both edible, and the leaves of certain types of avocado trees are as well.
To the indigenous tribes of Mesoamerica, avocados not only provided sustenance, but were thought to have mythological powers and provide strength to the people who consumed them. By 1521, Spanish explorers had been introduced to the avocado and assisted in its spread to South America and Europe. The avocado’s creamy texture and refreshing taste became popular with everyone who tried it, and the business of the avocado as a commodity began.
By 1871, avocados had made their way to California, where today the Avocado Tea Co. uses the tree’s leaves to make a unique infusion that combines the health benefits of the avocado tree with the medicinal properties of tea. California is now the largest grower of avocados in the United States, but few places harness the potent power of the avocado tree’s leaves.
The avocado leaf has a long list of properties that may assist in the prevention and regulation of various health issues. The leaf contains antioxidants and polyphenols, flavonoids, terpenes, and serotonin that is released when the leaves are brewed into a tea. Now imagine all of the benefits of tea combined with the benefits of avocados, more specifically avocado leaves. If you can’t imagine it, we’ll explain it below.
Some Background on Tea
In order to understand the innovative nature of avocado leaf tea, one must first understand the origins of the widespread beverage. The history and origin of tea dates back thousands of years, with legends from different cultures each having their own depiction of the invention of tea. The most well-known legend stems from China, where tea is thought to have originated in 2737 BC when some dried leaves fell into the Emperor’s boiling water, and he decided he liked the taste. The drink was believed to have medicinal properties and was mainly used for this purpose for centuries, In the 6th century, more varieties of tea emerged – green, black, and white variations infused with other plant substances such as orange and peppermint – and tea was no longer used solely for medicinal purposes.
Is Tea Good for Me?
In recent decades, the healing powers and medicinal properties have made their way to the forefront of western culture. A study conducted by the World Health Organization suggests that 4 billion people worldwide use herbal medicine as a form of healthcare. As we become more conscious of what we are putting in our bodies in terms of processed foods, chemicals, and pesticides, many of those who can, are trying to eat more cleanly. Eating clean does not only mean the foods we consume, but also the liquids we put into our bodies. Commercially sold beverages that are filled with dyes and sugar can be detrimental to our health.
Polyphenols are the primary substance in tea that support health. Research done by Harvard School of Public Health suggests these molecules contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may lower the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease in tea drinkers. In a study of over 100,000 adults conducted over seven years by the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, it was found that those who drank tea on a regular basis were less disposed to cardiovascular disease and dying prematurely of any cause.
Types of Tea
Tea is the most commonly consumed beverage in the world, after water. This is due in large part to its versatility – tea can be consumed hot or iced, sweetened or unsweetened, and the flavor profiles created by added ingredients are innumerable.
The three most common types of tea are green, black, and white. Black, white, and green tea are all derived from the Camelia Sinensis tea plant. The treatment of the leaves is what differentiates each type of tea, with black tea being more oxidized – that is to say the leaves wilt and brown after being picked – than both green and white tea. Black tea contains antioxidants that can protect the body from free radicals, high levels of caffeine, and a richer taste than green and white tea. White tea, while the lightest tasting of all three tea varieties, is rich in antioxidants that can aid in the control and prevention of many ailments. Green tea, especially, is a source of bioactive compounds that can reduce inflammation and lower blood pressure. Green tea is the only tea that contains catechin, an antioxidant that prevents cell damage.
However, with avocado tea’s potent brew containing three times the amount of catechins of green tea, green tea may soon lose its title as the most antioxidant-rich tea.
What Makes the Avocado Leaf So Great?
For decades, research has been done on the positive effects of drinking tea routinely. Now it’s time to look at the benefits of drinking a new kind of tea made from the avocado leaf. Avocado leaves are considered a culinary specialty in parts of Mexico and are used in dishes such as stews, soups, and casseroles. The same healthy benefits that cooking avocado leaves into food are present when those leaves are used in tea. When cooked into food, avocado leaves are a good source of protein and fiber, but the primary benefits you get from the leaf in tea are the phytochemicals such as phenols and flavonoids. These antioxidants have properties that assist with diabetes prevention, clot prevention, and inflammation.
Just when you think there couldn’t possibly be more benefits of introducing avocado leaves into your daily routine – there are more. Studies have shown that plant phenols found in avocado leaves have the potential to reduce cancer cells, and may even lower cancer-risk. Avocado leaves also contain two chemical compounds that may increase mental focus and have antifungal and antibacterial properties.
Enough with phytochemicals, let’s talk about the minerals found in avocado leaves. Magnesium. Calcium. Iron. Zinc. Potassium. It’s a daily vitamin all rolled into one leaf. All of these minerals are essential to the human body, and research has shown that many of us are deficient in them. Introducing avocado leaf indo your diet could help increase the amount of these minerals in your body.
Health Benefits of Avocado Leaves
Now what do all of these plant chemicals, vitamins, and minerals mean exactly? Sure, all of these things sound good but what will the effect be on your health? All of these properties of the avocado leaf have the potential to assist overall health in the following ways:
- Lowering blood glucose levels
- Avocado leaves have hypoglycemic properties that decrease blood sugar levels
- Reducing nervous activity
- Studies show that avocado leaves contain serotonin and can also increase GABA neurotransmitter activity in the brain, meaning that avocado leaves and avocado leaf tea can not only aid in mood stabilization but may also help with epilepsy.
- Boosting digestion
- According to Avocadobuddy, the phytochemicals found in avocado leaves can directly affect digestion by helping the flora of your digestive tract regenerate.
- Reducing insomnia
- Avocado leaves contain both limonene and serotonin, which may help insomnia patients because they help regulate mood and appetite.
- Improving cardiovascular health
- Avocado leaves can assist in lowering blood pressure and promoting blood circulation. This is in large part due to the magnesium content of avocado leaves; the mineral can help normalize the cardiovascular system.
- Reducing headaches
- Pinene, one of the plant chemical compounds found in avocado leaves, in combination with Quercetin, another plant chemical, can have analgesic effects that decrease sinus headache and migraines.
- Supporting anti-inflammation
- Avocado leaves can be ingested or used topically to treat inflammation. One of the many powers of Quercetin is its ability to reduce swelling.
- Improving breathing and oral health
- Another benefit of Pinene is that it affects air passages directly once ingested. This can help your throat heal faster after illness and aid in the reopening of airways after an asthma attack.
We all know how great avocados are, but now the avocado leaf is coming into its prime. Incorporating avocado leaf into your daily routine could benefit your health in various ways. Whether you brew a delicious cup of tea, blend some leaves into a smoothie, or make a mole sauce, you just might see improvements in your glucose levels, digestion, inflammation, and even mood.