Why do so many people still fear the divine avocado? You know, you really should be more afraid of the fruit-flavoured yogurt or bowl of Special K you may have eaten for breakfast this morning. I see so many people who are still fat-phobic: the yogurt, the cookies, even the salad dressing are all fat free. But somehow, the extra pounds are not coming off…..does this sound familiar? Have you ever considered that maybe, just maybe, it’s because calories and fat content are not the whole story? Simply eating less and restricting fat intake usually don’t lead to permanent weight loss; it’s more likely to lead you down the path of yo-yo dieting and long-term weight gain.
While eating an avocado isn’t magically going to shed those unwanted pounds, incorporating whole natural foods, such as the avocado, into a healthy nutrition plan will help you hop off the yo-yo train and establish life-long, sustainable eating patterns. Here’s why I think the avocado is a superfood you should be enjoying several times per week.
Number one complaint: I don’t eat avocados, they’re too high in fat. That’s true, 85% of their caloric value does come from fat. But remember what I just said…..calories and fat are not what it’s all about. Over 50% of the fat in an avocado is a monounsaturated fat (MUFA) known as oleic acid. That’s one of the “healthy fats” you often read about in headlines. What makes oleic acid different from, say, french fries? Saturated and trans fats, which usually are found in animal and processed products, are linked to cardiovascular disease, cancer and inflammation. But fats are not all created equal. Here’s what we know.
Studies have shown that MUFA’s can lower blood cholesterol levels, reduce inflammation and even enhance the absorption of health-promoting carotenoids. This 2005 study demonstrated that adding avocado to your salad will boost the absorption of cancer- and heart- protective carotenoids such as lycopene and beta-carotene. Lutein and zeaxanthin, 2 more carotenoids that just happen to be found in the avocado, protect your eyes from conditions such as cataracts and macular degeneration. Mother Nature seems to know what she’s doing, doesn’t she? Oh, and did I mention that a diet rich in carotenoids also helps create a healthier cellular environment that slows down the aging process? Yummy way to beat the onset of wrinkles, grey hairs and degenerative disease!
Are you still afraid of the fat? Well, here’s what else it can do. Fat regulates insulin levels and helps keep you fuller longer. Ever notice how “fat-free” cookies and crackers don’t really satisfy you? Before you know it, you’ve downed half a package. Not so low calorie any more, are they? Plus, you’re still hungry. Along with the fat, a cup of avocado also has 7-9 grams of fibre. All that fat and fibre works to keep those blood sugar fluctuations in check. Result: no more mid-afternoon runs to Starbucks. And when the sugar cravings go down you can kiss the belly fat bye-bye!
There’s even more! Avocados contain phytosterols, which have also been shown to keep inflammation down and are particularly effective in fighting conditions such as arthritis and osteoporosis. They even lower overall cholesterol levels. It just keeps getting better, doesn’t it?
I haven’t even mentioned the vitamins and minerals yet. Avocados are rich in Vitamins A, C and E as well as zinc, selenium and glutathione. These powerful antioxidants work to neutralize free radicals, decrease oxidative stress and boost your immune system. What does all this mean? Effects include cancer protection, slower aging and faster recover times from strenuous workouts.
I hope you’re convinced! With all these amazing health benefits, not to mention their creamy delicious flavour, I hope you pick up a few avocados next time you go shopping. Pass the guacamole please!