Food Focus: Avocados
Why do I eat at least one avocado a day? People often ask. Older gents and ladies still stuck in the nineties no-fat-allowed zone think I'm crazy because those were "SO MANY POINTS" on Weight Watchers. Do you avoid eating them? Read below and see if you change your mind.
And hello, a green light for guacamole?
These beauties are a stone fruit with a creamy texture that grow in warm climates. It is also known as an alligator pear or butter fruit, and is the only fruit that provides a substantial amount of healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, which can help reduce bad cholesterol levels in your blood which can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. They also provide nutrients to help develop and maintain your body's cells.
Avocados are a naturally nutrient-dense food and contain nearly 20 vitamins + minerals. They have a great source of vitamins C, E, K, and B-6, as well as riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, and potassium. They also provide lutein, beta-carotene, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Still scared of the fat aspect? Depending on size, they usually only contain around 6 grams of fat per serving and it's the heart healthy type! Fat is essential for every single cell in the body. Eating healthy fats supports skin health, enhances the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, and helps boost the immune system.
Remember how certain types of fat used to be associated with dietary cholesterol? Old science. Avocados contain a natural plant sterol called beta-sitosterol. Regular consumption of plant sterols has been seen to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels!
Thinking about having some babies? You need folate...and a LOT of it. Adequate intake of this vitamin reduces the risk of miscarriage and neural tube defects. It has also shown promise in protecting against colon, stomach, pancreatic, and cervical cancers.
So fight cancer with avocados.
What about bone health? You need milk, right? Half of an avocado provides approximately 25 percent of the daily recommended intake of vitamin K.This nutrient is often overlooked, but is essential for bone health. Over both calcium and Vitamin D. Substances called saponins, found in avocados, are associated with relief of symptoms in osteoarthritis.
Feeling blue? Turn to green. Foods containing high levels of folate may help to decrease the risk of depression because folate helps to prevent the build-up of homocysteine, a substance that can impair circulation and delivery of nutrients to the brain. Excess homocysteine can also interfere with the production of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which regulate mood, sleep, and appetite.
Need more fiber in your daily diet? We all do. And despite it's creaminess, an avocado is actually high in fiber with approximately 6-7 grams per half fruit. Eating foods with natural fiber can help prevent constipation, maintain a healthy digestive tract, and lower the risk of colon cancer. High fiber intakes are associated with significantly lower risks of many chronic diseases like coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and certain gastrointestinal diseases. Increased fiber intake has also been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, plus improve insulin sensitivity.
Getting ready for summer beach days? Avocados have shown enhanced weight loss for obese individuals. Still think fat makes you fat?
Our office staff is always sharing and trading ripe avocados! Want to know the best way to tell if they are ready to be devoured? Peel the top stem off. If it pops off easily and you see a light green color underneath, its ripe.
Head over to my Pinterest boards for tons of great recipes that include avocados!
Sources and Additional Reading:
150 Healthiest Foods on Earth. Bowden, Jonny. 2007.