Today’s post is all about avocado. Hot damn.
When it comes to “superfoods,” avocado is my favorite. I’m sure that comes as no surprise to anyone. It’s truly a unique fruit. Hey, did you know avocado is technically a fruit?
Avocados are a perfect example of why fat isn’t bad news for your heart. Avocados are a rich source of healthy monounsaturated fats, a type of fat that can help lower bad LDL cholesterol and increase good HDL cholesterol. An medium Hass avocado has about 15 grams of healthy monounsaturated fat, about two thirds of its total fat content. One small study that specifically looked at avocados found a high monounsaturated fat diet lowered total cholesterol by 17% and lowered LDL and triglycerides by 22%. Good HDL cholesterol was increased by 11%.
Avocados contain multiple carotenoids, including alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, and lutein. Carotenoids are a plant pigment that your body turns into vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant. Since vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin and avocado is a high fat food, your body is better able to absorb the carotenoids in avocado. If you consume other carotenoid rich foods with avocado, your body can better absorb the carotenoids in those foods as well. Carotenoids like to hang out close to the skin, so make sure you scoop out all the flesh.
Rat studies suggest avocados may play a role in liver protection. In one study, rats were fed 22 different fruits then injected with a potent liver toxin. The rats fed avocados suffered the smallest amount of damage to their liver. It’s unclear if this translates into a benefit for humans, but since there are so few medical treatments for hepatitis, this research is exciting!
Think a banana is the best source of potassium? Well, an avocado has almost twice the amount of potassium of a medium banana. Why is potassium so important? I like to think of it as anti-salt. A high sodium diet can raise blood pressure levels, while a diet rich in potassium can help lower it.
Blood Sugar Regulation
Avocados are a helpful food for glucose control. Despite being low in total carbohydrate, they are high in fiber, with about 10 grams in a cup. Often, diabetics are told to eat a serving of protein at each meal and snack to help prevent spikes in blood sugar. But if you look at the research, fat seems to have a more beneficial effect for preventing fluctuations in blood glucose.
Studies on avocados and chemoprotection have mainly been conducted with avocado extracts and cancer cells, however the results have been impressive. Extracts of avocado seem to decrease oxidative stress and inflammation in healthy cells, making them more resistant to cancer proliferation, while inducing apoptosis (a fun way of saying death) in cancer cells.
Avocado’s are packed with all sorts of anti-inflammatory nutrients. Previously mentioned carotenoids, besides being antioxidants, are anti-inflammatory as well. Avocados contain phytosterols, well known for lowering LDL cholesterol, but may also have anti-inflammatory effects. Avocado’s also contain a small amount of alpha linolenic acid, a type of omega 3 fatty acid.
Clearly, we all need a little extra avocado in our life and guacamole is my favorite way to do it. Meet guacamole 2.0.
In lieu of the traditional cilantro, onion and lime, this guac is spiced with mustard seeds, curry and spicy serrano chile. With the mustard seeds, it actually reminds me of a favorite late night snack my roomie and I ate freshman year of college, fresh avocado dipped in mustard. I know, most students order pizza, I ate superfoods. I guess I was meant to be a dietitian.
- 2 ripe avocados
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 small yellow onion, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon Indian curry powder
- 1 small Serrano chili, partially seeded and minced
- Cut each avocado in half, remove the pit and scoop the flesh into a bowl. Add the lemon juice, salt, and most of the cilantro. Mash the avocado with a fork until it's a chunky puree.
- Heat the coconut oil in a small skillet on medium-high. Add the mustard seeds. Watch for them to pop, keeping a lid on hand in case they pop out at you. Cook for one minute, then stir in the onion. Saute for 2-3 minutes until translucent. Stir in garlic, curry powder and chili. Cook for 10 seconds, remove from heat, and stir in avocado mixture. Serve warm or at room temperature with whole grain pita, tortilla chips, or fresh vegetables.