6 Reasons You Should Love Avocados
With Cinco de Mayo just around the corner, it felt fitting to give thanks to the marvelous fruit that most of us think is a vegetable: the avocado! In fact, the avocado is not only a fruit, but an ancient tropical one native to Central and South America, where they have been cultivated since around 8,000 B.C.
While avocados are well known for their star role in guacamole, a must-have on game days, at backyard BBQ’s and on everything involving a tortilla, there’s more to the avocado than most people realize.
In addition to debunking the myth that avocados are too-fatty for the health conscious to enjoy, here’s 6 great things that will make you love this heart-healthy fruit even more!
1. Healthy fats –
While a majority of the calories in avocados are from fat, it is important to know that these are monounsaturated fats like those in olive oil and nuts. These healthy fats have been shown to decrease LDL (the unhealthy form of cholesterol buildup), increase HDL (the health-promoting cholesterol) and are associated with a reduced risk of heart disease. Fats like these are essential for optimal brain, heart and muscle function too!
2. Kid friendly –
If your kid takes one look at “green foods” and quickly turns up their nose, avocados are a great green food to start with when introducing more fruits and veggies into their diet. The mild, creamy flavor and texture often get the “ok” from picky kids. The healthy fats, as well as the laundry list of nutrients they contain will benefit all growing kids and can be added to pastas, spread on toast, pureed into a dip for veggies and crackers or just eaten plain with a spoon.
3. Antioxidant power –
As a good source of copper and vitamin C, which are both powerful antioxidant nutrients, avocados help combat free radicals throughout your body. Specifically, copper is a co-factor to an enzyme that clears free radicals from the lungs and red blood cells, while vitamin C acts within water-soluble components of the body.
4. Blood and Bone Health –
Avocados are a rich source of vitamin K, which is a key nutrient in regulating healthy blood clotting. Many proteins found in your bones are also vitamin K dependant, meaning it is essential in the process of maintaining the integrity and strength of your bones too!
5. Enhanced Absorption of Cartenoids –
Cartenoids, which include beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, lutein and lycopene, are potent antioxidants, immune boosters and sources of vitamin A. They are also fat-soluble nutrients, which means they require a fat in order to be broken down and used in your body. Since avocados are an excellent source of healthy fats, they pair well with cartenoid rich foods like tomatoes, spinach, kale and carrots. When avocados are added to salads, salsas and other cartenoid-rich foods they have been shown to enhance the absorption of beta-carotene up to 15 times!
6. Rock Hard to Ripe at home –
Unlike many fruits and veggies, avocados don’t actually ripen on the tree. So when choosing avocados their firmness is actually a good feature, showing that they are fresher and have not been sitting around as long with a chance to ripen. Firm avocados will ripen well on your counter and you can actually control how quickly ripeness occurs by storing them in a paper bag on your counter top for quicker results and in your refrigerator for slower ripening.
Information for this article comes from the following resources:
Mateljan, George. The World’s Healthiest Foods: Essential Guide for the Healthiest Way of Eating. Seattle, WA: George Mateljan Foundation, 2006. Print.
Pitchford, Paul. Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic, 2002. Print.
Lieberman, Shari, and Nancy Bruning. The Real Vitamin and Mineral Book: The Definitive Guide to Designing Your Personal Supplement Program. New York: Avery, 2007. Print.