The first time I ever laid eyes on an avocado was at sleep away camp when I was just ten years old. I missed afternoon snack one day and my counselor sent me to the cafeteria to see what they could give me. Believe it or not, I was handed an avocado! I peeled it myself, ate the whole thing and without even knowing all the amazing health benefits that an avocado provides, my love affair with this fruit (yes, fruit), began.
Fast forward ten years to 1988 and the year I moved to London….I was reintroduced to avocados in a big way! They were all the rage that year and were used in a popular appetizer at almost every gathering I attended. Hard boiled eggs, mashed with avocado and mayonnaise served as a dip with crackers! Creamy, delicious, satisfying and satiating. I could never get enough!
Through my studies becoming a nutritionist and in my own personal journey finding health and well-being, I honed in on foods that I loved in my research…foods that I found delicious but always wondered if they were healthy too. Avocados were a great subject for me and luckily they came out on the right side!
Delicious? Yes! Healthy? Yes! Filled with numerous amazing health benefits? Yes! Here’s what I learned that I think you should know too!
Avocados come in many sizes, shapes and even colors. Pear shaped to round and green to black. They also vary in weight; anywhere from 8 ounces to 3 lbs. The most popular variety of avocado and most likely the type of avocado you see at your grocery store is the Hass avocado.
Loaded with nutrients, a medium Hass avocado has:
• Vitamin K: 26% of the daily value (DV)
• Folate: 20% of the DV
• Vitamin C: 17% of the DV
• Potassium: 14% of the DV
• Vitamin B5: 14% of the DV
• Vitamin B6: 13% of the DV
• Vitamin E: 10% of the DV
• It also contains small amounts of magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, zinc, phosphorous and vitamins A, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin) and B3 (niacin).
A medium avocado is only approximately 250 calories, provides 3 grams of fiber and 23 grams of healthy fat! They are also very low in sodium (majorly important of me), are higher in potassium than even bananas, potassium is excellent for lowering your blood pressure (again, super important for me personally), and provides 3 grams of protein.
If you read that last paragraph too quickly you may have been worried for a second. 23 grams of HEALTHY fat! 23 grams is a lot of fat (in fact, 77% of the calories in an avocado are from fat) but let’s focus on the type of fat found in an avocado for a minute.
Avocados don’t just contain any fat, it’s the kind of fat we want you to eat, the kind that lowers your LDL (bad cholesterol) by almost 22 percent, increases your HDL (good cholesterol) by nearly 11 % and reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Another reason I LOVE avocados is because they are full of fiber! If you read my blog post on Oct. 7th, I talked about how important soluble fiber is and how it is known for feeding the friendly gut bacteria in your intestine, which is SO important for optimal body function. Fiber helps keep you feeling fuller longer while also helping you to naturally flush toxins out of your system! A medium avocado packs 10 grams of fiber (25% is soluble while 75% is insoluble) an excellent daily dose!
My clients always want to know if there’s a limit to how much avocado you can eat and my answer is always yes! Even though the fat found in avocados is “good” fat, you still shouldn’t eat them in unlimited amounts. So that avocados don’t make up all your daily fat calories, I recommend to my clients that they eat ¼ to ½ of an avocado per day. That’s the perfect amount to gain all the health benefits avocados provide without overdoing your fat intake for the day.
At home, I serve avocados to Jonathan and Ellis almost every single night. I fill the hole in them with a drop of balsamic vinegar and Greek olive oil and they can’t get enough! I eat my avocado at lunch. Either similarly or on a large salad. You can really add avocados easily into your diet in a lot of different ways.
Here are some of the ways I suggest my clients add avocados into their diets:
• Spread mashed avocado onto whole grain toast or GG crackers with a little mayonnaise and tomato. YUM!
• Add avocado to your scrambled eggs in the morning or include avocados on top of some of your soups.
• I even like adding avocado to my homemade salad dressings and hummus.
Try cooking with avocado oil! The fats in avocado are resistant to heat-induced oxidation which makes cooking with avocado oil a safe and healthy choice.
I encourage you to try incorporating avocado into your diet daily. They’re such a wholesome way to add so many important nutrients into your body. Easy, inexpensive, healthy and delicious!
Stay well, happy and wholesomely full! Xx Janine