In my kitchen...
Avocados aren’t just for guacamole anymore! I eat half an avocado with my breakfast almost daily. Sometimes it ends up in a smoothie, giving me some extra, long-lasting energy and keeping it from being a sugar-bomb. It also makes an amazing Orange Avocado Dressing, dances well with ginger underneath a grilled tuna, balances out the acidity of grapefruit in a simple salad and is the secret ingredient to a chocolate pudding that I surprise guests with on occasion.
Here on the East Coast, our grocery stores typically stock avocados of the Haas variety. Choosing one that is medium in softness is best if you’re going to use it immediately. If not, refrigerate it so that it does not rot or turn mushy.
What’s in an avocado?
The avocado is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on earth. Unfortunately, it’s gotten a bad rap in recent years due to the obsession with calorie counting and no-fat diets. Not all fats are created equal! There is a HUGE difference in the way your body metabolizes the fat in a cheeseburger vs. the unprocessed fat from a natural plant source, such as the avocado. Healthy sources of fat, like the avocado, are understandably confusing. Just remember, “healthy” foods with a high ratio of fat bring more to the dinner table then just fat—they also bring vitamins, minerals, amino acids, complex carbohydrates, anti-oxidants and phytochemicals—all things our bodies can use and help us do amazing things!
So, without further ado… The Top 5 Reasons why (else) you should eat an avocado (today):
1. Avocados contain all the essential amino acids, giving them the ability to make ALL the amino acids we our bodies need. AKA — one word — SUPERFOOD.
The plant-based proteins in avocados is readily absorbed by the body (unlike animal based proteins which are difficult for humans to breakdown and digest). Therefore we can use these proteins for energy, repair and other functions. One whole avocado provides about 7 grams of plant-based, heart-healthy protein. It takes 7 grams of protein to build half a pound of muscle.
2. Avocados contain Omega 3′s
Omega 3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats the body cannot make itself, but are nonetheless essential for many metabolic processes and healthy brain function. Avocados are an abundant source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), providing about 160 milligrams per cup.
They are also rich in oleic acids, which experts agree is one of the healthiest fats for human consumption. It’s shown to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood and slow down the build-up of plaque in the arteries.
3. Avocados are a great source of many important vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and phytonutrients.
...Such as carotenoids—including beta-carotene, alpha-carotene and lutein—which convert into vitamin A inside your body. Avocados are also rich in vitamins C and E, Zinc, Potassium, Selenium and Folate. Vitamins A, C, E and minerals Zinc and Selenium make up the first line of heavy hitting anti-oxidants… and we can find all of them in an avocado!!!
*The green pulp attached to the peel has the highest concentration of nutrients, so make sure to scrape the avocado away from the interior of the peel and incorporate it into whatever you are making.
4. Avocados are considered one of the best anti-aging foods.
The unique combination of anti-oxidants in an avocado helps the body fight free radicals and reduces oxidative stress, which is essential for the health of your cells. It helps too, that most carotenoid-based anti-oxidants are lipophilic (fat-loving) which is why the body absorbs them so well from the fruit.
5. Avocados are deemed as “nature’s skin moisturizer”.
The combination of phytonutrients, vitamins and antioxidants your body can absorb internally, can also be absorbed through the skin! The fatty acids in avocados aid in cell renewal and have a healing effect on your skin. Eating the avocado or applying it directly to the skin may help in the treatment of inflammation and skin conditions.
*Lisa’s Spa Secret: Combining and mashing half an avocado, 2 TB of oatmeal and 1 TB of honey in a bowl and applying it to my face as a mask for 15 minutes spells “Winter- Skin- Relief”... I use the rest in a smoothie… Trust me, believe it!