Avocado: The Healthiest and Tastiest Fat
Choose The Correct Fats
“Eating fatty foods makes you fat” may sound logical, but it is a bit more complicated than that. It is true that at 9 calories per gram, fats are more caloric than protein or carbohydrates – which contain 4 calories each per gram – but the reality is that certain fats are a crucial part of your diet. The monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that occur naturally in foods such as oily fish, nuts, seeds, olives and coconut oil for example, play key roles in boosting metabolism, improving hormone synthesis and increasing “good” HDL-cholesterol.
Do not be fooled by “low-fat” options on packaged food either. Most have been highly processed to remove the fat and tend to be packed with salt and sugar to enhance their flavor. Instead, focus your energies on avoiding highly processed junk foods that are full of chemicals and unhealthy man-made trans fats, and enjoy daily servings of healthy, naturally grown fat sources like — The Avocado.
Yes, avocados are relatively high in fat and calories (14.1g of fat and 138 calories in half a medium-sized avocado). That said, they are also one of the very best foods that you can eat, packed with nutrients and heart-healthy compounds. Here are some excellent reasons to eat avocados regularly.
Avocados are loaded with carotenoids
Avocados are a great source of lutein, a carotenoid that works as an antioxidant and helps protect against the onset of eye disease. They also contain related carotenoids zeaxanthin, alpha-carotene and beta-carotene, as well as tocopherol (vitamin E).
But avocados aren’t just a rich source of carotenoids by themselves – they also assist you in getting more of these nutrients from other foods. Carotenoids are lipophilic (soluble in fat, not water), so eating carotenoid-dense foods like fruits and vegetables along with monounsaturated-fat-rich avocados helps your body absorb the carotenoids. An easy way to do this is to add sliced avocado to a mixed salad.
Avocados can help you lose body fat
Half an avocado contains 3.4 grams of fiber, including soluble and insoluble, both of which your body needs to keep your digestive system running smoothly. Plus, soluble fiber slows the breakdown of carbohydrates in your body, helping you feel full for longer.
Avocados also contain oleic acid, a fat that activates the part of your brain that makes you feel full. Healthier unsaturated fats containing oleic acid have been shown to produce a greater feeling of satiety than less-healthy saturated fats and trans fats found in processed foods.
Avocados can stabilize your blood sugar
Rich, creamy, and packed with beneficial monounsaturated fat, avocado works to slow digestion and helps keep your blood sugar from spiking after a meal. A diet high in good fats may even help reverse insulin resistance, which translates to more stable blood sugar over the long term. Try using mashed avocado on sandwiches instead of mayonnaise or on bread instead of butter. To keep what’s left over from turning brown, you can spritz the avocado flesh with cooking spray or coat with lemon juice and wrap in plastic.
Avocados can nurture your unborn baby – and protect your heart
One cup of avocado provides almost a quarter of your recommended daily intake of folate, a vitamin which cuts the risk of birth defects. If you’re pregnant – or planning to be – avocados will help nurture your unborn baby.
A high folate intake is also associated with a lower risk of heart attacks and heart disease. If your family has a history of heart problems, or if you might have other risk factors for heart disease such as being overweight or smoking, then avocados could help to keep your heart healthier.
Avocados can assist in lowering your cholesterol
As well as increasing feelings of fullness, the oleic acid in avocados can help reduce cholesterol levels. In one study, individuals eating an avocado-rich diet had a significant decrease in total cholesterol levels, including a decrease in LDL cholesterol. Their levels of HDL cholesterol (the healthy type) increased by 11 percent.
High cholesterol is one of the main risk factors for heart disease, so the cholesterol-lowering properties of avocado, along with its folate content, keep your heart healthier.
Add Avocados to Make Any Meal Healthier and Tastier
Many avocado recipes include it as an ingredient in its raw, uncooked form. There is simply no better way to preserve the health benefits made possible by avocado's unique fats than to enjoy it straight from the tree. Sometimes you may choose to add avocado to a dish that has already been cooked. This is an approach used in several traditional Mexican food recipes. For example, in Mexico they often add sliced avocado to chicken soup after it is cooked. The avocado warms and mingles well with the soup but retain its concentration of nutrients since it is not cooked.
Here are some other delicious ways to enjoy the incredible spreadable avocado:
• Luxurious, rich, creamy ... like butter, avocados make everything they touch into something far more delicious. But unlike butter, whose sky-high saturated fat content means it's a treat best enjoyed sparingly, avocado can be eaten more often because its fats are unsaturated.
• Use chopped avocados as a garnish for any salad and many soups, like black bean soup.
• Add avocado to your favorite tofu-based dressing recipe to give it extra richness and a beautiful green color.
• Mix chopped avocados, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, lime-juice and seasonings for a zesty version of traditional guacamole.
• Spread ripe avocados on bread as a healthy replacement for mayonnaise or butter when making a sandwich.
• For an exceptional and filling main-course salad, combine sliced avocado with tomato, quinoa, chicken and mixed seasonal greens.
• For a less salty change of pace from the traditional diner sandwich, top avocado slices with tomato and lettuce to create an ALT instead of a BLT.