Monday, May 20, 2013

5 Things you didn't know about an Avocado

Over the years there has been lots of conflicting information (advice?) about avocados.  They're full of fat, bad fat, good fat.  I've always loved them and am currently enjoying a resurgence of avocado inspired dishes and if you're in any doubt about their nutritional benefits read on...

1. Protein

Avocadoes provide all 18 essential amino acids necessary for the body to form a complete protein. Unlike the protein in steak, which is difficult for most people to digest, avocado protein is readily absorbed by the body because avocadoes also contain fibre.

2. Beneficial Fats

Avocadoes provide the healthy kind of fat that your body needs. Like olive oil, avocadoes boost levels of HDL (the "good" cholesterol). HDL cholesterol can help protect against the damage caused by free radicals. This type of cholesterol also helps regulate triglyceride levels, preventing diabetes.

3. Carotenoids

Avocadoes are an excellent source of carotenoids. Although many people associate carotenoids only with red and orange produce, avocadoes are also an excellent source of this phytonutrient. Avocadoes, also known as alligator pears, offer a diverse range of carotenoids including not only the better known ones such as beta-carotene, alpha-carotene and lutein, but also lesser known varieties of this type of phytonutrient such as neoxanthin, zeaxanthin, chrysanthemaxanthin, neochrome, beta-cryptoxanthin and violaxanthin. Every time you consume foods rich in carotenoids, you deliver high quality vitamin A to your body, thereby protecting eye health. Carotenoids also enhance the functioning of the immune system and promote healthy functioning of the reproductive system. Since carotenoids are fat soluble, eating avocadoes optimizes the absorption of these nutrients.


The combined effect of the deluxe package of nutrients contained in avocadoes offers powerful anti-inflammatory benefits. Avocadoes' unique combination of Vitamins C and E, carotenoids, selenium, zinc, phytosterols and omega-3 fatty acids helps guard against inflammation. This means avocadoes can help prevent or mitigate against both osteo- and rheumatoid arthritis.

5. Heart Health

The fat content, which causes some uninformed health "experts" to deem avocadoes as unhealthy, actually provides protection against heart diseases. Studies have shown that oleic acid improves cardiovascular health. Oleic acid is the primary fatty acid in avocadoes. Many people now take supplements in order to consume more omega-3 fatty acids to lower their risk of heart disease. Avocadoes are rich in omega-3, delivering 160 milligrams per cup of alpha-linolenic acid.

When choosing your avocados avoid over-ripe fruits.  The skin should give slightly when gently pressed and there should be no dents in the skin.  The most nutrients are found close to the skin, so make sure you scrape this bit out to get maximum benefit.  I hope I've convinced you to eat more of this delicious fruit; my favourite start to the day is toasted sourdough with half an avocado smooshed on top, with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.  For more avocado inspired dishes have a look at these:
       * Grilled avocado on toast
                        * Avocado and feta wrap

Asparagus, snap pea and avocado pasta
all images via: Martha Stewart

No comments:

Post a Comment