Avocados Totally Rock

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Avocados totally rock! I wasn’t a fan of this superfood until earlier this year and now I have at least half an avocado a day because of their many health benefits…

Maybe instead of ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’, we should change it to ‘an avocado a day keeps the doctor away!’

  • A small pilot study found that eating one-half of a fresh medium Hass avocado with a hamburger significantly inhibited the production of the inflammatory compound Interleukin-6 (IL-6), compared to eating a burger without fresh avocado
  • Avocados, which are actually classified as a fruit, are rich in monounsaturated fat that is easily burned for energy. They also provide close to 20 essential health-boosting nutrients, including potassium, vitamin E, B-vitamins, and folic acid
  • Previous research has found avocado can help optimise cholesterol levels within as little as one week; contains compounds that appear to inhibit oral cancer cells, and those that protect against liver damage
  • The greatest concentration of beneficial carotenoids is in the dark green fruit of the avocado, closest to the peel, so use the “nick and peel” method to maximize the benefits from your avocado
  • You can increase your avocado consumption by using it as a fat replacement in baking; add it to soups, dessert whips and countless other recipes; and use as a baby’s first food in lieu of processed baby food

Avocados are an excellent source of healthy fat. It also turns out there are other reasons besides fat for why you should double down on the green goodness.

To learn more, the Hass Avocado Board (HAB) is supporting clinical research to investigate various health effects of avocado consumption, particularly its benefits for cardiovascular disease, weight management, diabetes, and its ability to enhance your body’s absorption of nutrients.

The first of these HAB-supported studies was published in November, 2012. The small UCLA-led pilot study found that eating one-half of a fresh medium Hass avocado with a hamburger (made with 90 percent lean beef) significantly inhibited the production of the inflammatory compound Interleukin-6 (IL-6), compared to eating a burger without fresh avocado. (Sadly, the researchers did not disclose what the animals were fed before they were turned into hamburger. In any case, even toxic meat from chemically treated sick animals is less inflammatory when you eat it with avocado!)

According to lead author David Heber, MD, PhD, the findings offered “promising clues” about avocado’s ability to benefit vascular function and heart health.

A summary of the study by Medical News Today reported that plain burgers caused a 70% increase in IL-6 four hours after a meal, but only a 40% increase when avocado was included. Interestingly, avocado did not cause an increase in triglyceride levels even though it’s made of mostly fat. (Triglycerides are caused by fructose digestion more so than by eating healthy fat.)

Another finding was a 27% reduction in peripheral blood flow after the meal with no avocado, but only a 4% drop when there was avocado.

Nutrients

Avocados, which are actually classified as a fruit, are rich in monounsaturated fat (about 2/3 of the fat is monounsaturated) that is easily burned for energy and nutrients, especially potassium, B vitamins, 11 different carotenoids, and vitamin E. Personally, I eat a 1/2 an avocado virtually every day. This increases my healthy fat and calorie intake without seriously increasing my protein or carbohydrate intake. (See Nutrition Facts panel below.) It is also very high in potassium and will help balance your important potassium to sodium ratio.

Avocado-nutiriondata

As I’ve mentioned before, eliminating grain carbs is one of the best ways to support your health and maintain your weight, but when you cut down on carbs, you need to increase your intake of healthy fats. Avocados are an excellent source, along with grass fed butter, coconut oil, and organic pastured eggs, just to name a few.

There’s also evidence suggesting that limiting your intake of protein can be helpful for long-term good health. At the very least, most people are consuming far too much poor-quality protein, such as beef and animal products from livestock raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs). Here again, if you cut down on protein, you need to replace lost calories with healthy fats such as avocados, coconut oil, olives, olive oil, butter and nuts.

Since avocados have a good amount of fiber, almost no sugar (1g per 150g of avocado), and almost no protein (about 3g per 150g of avocado), you can eat tons of them instead of eating carbs or excessive protein. One of the biggest mistakes people make on low carb diets is not eating enough fat because they are eating too much protein. Avocados can make that problem a thing of the past.

Organic v. non-organic

Another reason I like avocados is that they have a very thick peel. The peel helps to block pesticides from entering the fruit. Additionally, it has been rated as one of the safest commercial crops in terms of pesticide exposure, so there’s no real need to spend extra money on organic avocados, unless you can afford it.

Other health benefits

Avocados have a long list of potential health benefits besides its anti-inflammatory properties. Some of these are:

Liver health

A Japanese study found laboratory rats, when fed a liver toxin that interferes with cell synthesis and kills cells, suffered the least amount of liver damage when they were fed avocados compared to 21 other fruits. The chemical toxin mimics viral hepatitis damage, so the researchers believe avocado might be a good idea in cases of viral hepatitis.

Cholesterol

Avocados can help improve lipid profiles in both healthy individuals and those with non optimized HDL/ total cholesterol levels) (you want high HDL!). In one case, test subjects’ total cholesterol fell by 16 percent after a one-week high avocado diet. If the subjects had elevated cholesterol, the high avocado diet caused a 17 percent decrease in total cholesterol, an 11% increase in HDL, and a more significant 22% decrease of LDL and triglycerides.

The Best Way to Peel an Avocado

Did you know there are many ways to skin an avocado? Well, there are, and how you de-skin your fruit can have a bearing on the nutrients you get from it. Avocados contain a complex package of phytonutrients, including 11 carotenoids that may provide numerous health benefits. Carotenoids appear to protect against certain cancers, heart disease and age-related macular degeneration.

Research shows that the greatest concentration of beneficial carotenoids is in the dark green fruit of the avocado closest to the peel. Therefore the best way to protect the dark green friut is to “nick and peel”.

To preserve the area with the greatest concentration of antioxidants, you basically want to peel the avocado with your hands, as you would a banana:

  • First, cut the avocado length-wise, around the seed
  • Holding each half, twist them in the opposite directions to separate them from the seed
  • Remove the seed by embedding the blade of a sharp knife into the seed, then twisting the knife and pull the seed out, still stuck to the knife blade
  • Cut each half, lengthwise
  • Next, using your thumb and index finger, simply peel the skin off each piece

Lastly:

Never, ever eat the black or discolored parts. Those contain mold toxins and histamine that will lower your brain function if not make you sick outright. Avocados are one of the few fruits where it is safe to cut out the discolored parts. (Most fruit is entirely contaminated when some of it is spoiled.)

So go on, rock an avocado today and reap the benefits.

Do you have any avocado facts or recipes you’d like to share? If so, leave them in the comments.

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