Health Food Of The Week – Avocado

Starting this week I’m going to be focusing on one health food that you may or may not currently eat. The idea is to encourage us to eat a wider variety of foods and to try at least one new food each week.

First up – avocado. Avocados are excellent for your health, not only are they a great source of fibre, healthy fat and antioxidants but they can also be beneficial in lowering cholesterol. Not to mention how good they are for your skin and eyes! You may also be surprised to learn the avocado is actually a fruit and not a vegetable.

Key Benefits

Healthy Fat & Positive Effects On Cholesterol

I should address the main reason people are often reluctant to eat avocado – they contain fat. Yes, avocados do contain fat but they contain the healthy essential kinds of fat. In fact the majority of the fat found in avocados is oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat, which has been show to have a positive effect on cholesterol levels and heart health. This is the same type of fat found in olive oil and is the main source of fat found in the Mediterranean diet.

Avocados also contain plant sterols or phytosterols. Possibly the most interesting being beta-sitosterol which has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body and helps to decrease bad cholesterol while increasing good cholesterol.

Avocados do also contain a small amount of saturated fat, but it’s plant based rather than animal and is not only perfectly healthy when consumed in moderation, but a small amount of saturated fat is actually essential for optimum health.

Antioxidants, Vitamins, Minerals

Avocados contain good levels of Vitamin E – a powerful free radical scavenger. Free radicals are unstable molecules that cause damage to our cells.

Avocados are also a great source of potassium which is important for regulating blood pressure, keeping muscles firm and as an electrolyte plays an essential role in proper muscle contraction.

Lutein, a member of the caroteniod family, which protects our eyes from oxidative stress/damage is also found in avocados.

Avocados Help To Increase Nutrient Absorption

One of the biggest health benefits of consuming avocados as part of a healthy lifestyle is that they help increase the absorption of the beneficial nutrients in other foods, such as beta-carotene from carrots, lycopene from tomatoes and lutein from spinach. There’s an excellent salad idea right there.

How To Incorporate Avocado Into Your Nutrition

Luckily avocado is very versitile and can be used to add a delicious creamy texture to any meal. Spread it on to a slice of wholegrain bread in place of butter, make a homemade guacamole by mashing with lime juice, onion and a little tobasco or simple dice a 1/4 avocado and add to any salad for that extra touch.

Have any favourite ways to eat avocado? Share your tips in the comments below.


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