Avocado love: 5 top reasons to eat avocados

I have a confession to make: I’m having a passionate affair with avocados.  I simply can’t get enough of them. I can eat them morning, noon and night.  At breakfast, a little avocado mashed on a slice of whole grain toast and topped with a fried egg (and maybe a dash of habanero hot sauce too, depending on my mood). Lunch could include a cheese and veggie sandwich, again with mashed or sliced avocado or a mixed salad with diced cheese, fish or chicken and of course, avocado.

My dinner choices may change depending on the day or the season. In winter, I add diced avocado to my bean-filled chili or cilantro and lime scented  tortilla soup. In summer, I love it with quesadillas and a tomato avocado salsa.  Every Friday night, when my family comes for dinner, there has to be guacamole as a starter – most Jewish families who have a traditional Friday night Sabbath dinner begin with chicken soup. Our tradition is the guac. On Passover even when we don’t have corn tortillas, we use still have the guacamole  but with matzo.

Besides the fact that they’re delicious, there are plenty of reasons to include avocados on your menu for the health of it.  Here are just five for you to consider. The figures included are for Haas avocados (California) as opposed to the larger Florida variety.

•    These creamy fruits are top notch sources of  lutein, the yellowish carotenoid or pigment linked to prevention of  both cataracts and macular degeneration, the leading cause of vision loss in the elderly.

•    They also provide plenty of potassium, a nutrient in short supply in Western diets. While many people look to sodium as a culprit in developing high blood pressure, too little potassium is also a villain. One quarter of an avocado offers over 170 milligrams of this vital nutrient.

•    Avocados are a yummy way to consume fibre, another nutrient we’re short on.  That same one quarter of an avocado – about 57 calories worth – supplies  more than 2 grams of fibre.

•    Eating avocado with other foods rich in fat-soluble nutrients increases their absorption. For example, you’ll absorb more  beta carotene (orange pigment found in vegetables such as carrots and broccoli), lutein (in dark leafy greens like spinach and yellow vegetables like corn)  and lycopene, the red one in tomatoes when you consume them with a source of fat such as an avocado (with its 5 grams in a quarter of the fruit). The monounsaturated fat, besides being heart healthy, contained is responsible for this effect.

During the summer, for a change of pace,  I love to add grilled lutein-rich corn to my guacamole.

•    Avocados  appear to have potent anti-cancer effects.  Research shows that avocado extracts inhibits the growth of both stomach and colon cancer cells.    Other scientific investigations  are showing avocados  as possibly offering weaponry to fights others cancers as well including prostate, breast and certain types of leukemia.

Avocados are rich in an assortment of phytochemicals including a  phytosterol, called  beta-sitosterol, currently a hotbed of scientific research.

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Are you an avocado lover? What’s your favourite was to enjoy them? Please share in the comment section below.

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Categories: Research Roundup, Superfoods, Whole Foods

Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

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