The power of the avocado
Published 11:21 am Tuesday, June 6, 2023
While it’s true that no one food can “do it all,” it is equally proper to note that some foods offer more nutritional value than others. In fact, some foodstuffs are particularly rich in essential vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, fiber, healthful fat, and antioxidants, making them true “superfoods.”
So what exactly is a superfood? Well, this title is typically reserved for natural foods that are especially nutrient-dense, while typically low in calories. One such culinary standout is the avocado.
Avocados make the perfect superfood, because they offer many healthful benefits, and are easily digested. Here are a few avocado health advantages:
- Avocados are packed with healthful fats–Avacodos are low in carbohydrates and high in fats, especially healthful monounsaturated fats like oleic acid, which makes up 70% of their fat content. Oleic acid helps reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol blood levels while increasing HDL (good) cholesterol levels. High-density lipoproteins actually absorb LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream, dispatching it to the liver for removal by the body, thereby reducing the risk of coronary disease.
- Avocados are nutrient-dense–One serving of avocado (about 1/3 of a medium-sized fruit) provides 20 different vitamins and minerals, including vitamins C, E and K, B complex vitamins, and minerals such as potassium, magnesium and copper, all while yielding only 80 calories.
- Avocados help with blood pressure control–Avocados are a rich source of potassium, a mineral that helps balance sodium levels within the body. Sodium causes fluid retention between the body’s cells. This extra water means there’s more pressure on blood vessel walls, raising the body’s blood pressure levels. This also forces the heart to work harder. Potassium has the opposite effect, helping to relax blood vessels while increasing sodium excretion rates, thereby decreasing blood pressure.
- Avocados are great for weight loss–That’s right, avocados can actually help control appetite. The total fat yield of one medium avocado is 22 grams, 19 of which are healthful fats. The presence of fat in the small intestine slows the digestive rate while stimulating hormones that suppress appetite. Plus, the 10 grams of fiber that avocados provide makes you feel fuller for longer, so you tend to eat less.
Avocados are fruits, not vegetables, and are technically categorized as berries, along with bananas, tomatoes, grapes and peppers. In fact, avocado is classified as a single-seeded berry and is in the same family as cinnamon. They are believed to have originated around 10,000 years ago in the tropical regions of Mexico, Guatemala and the West Indies.
Did you know that the avocado tree is an evergreen, attaining a height of 40 to 80 feet? It can take up to 10 years for this tree to produce fruit, but most avocado trees begin bearing fruit within 3 to 5 years.
The word “guacamole” is a derivation of the Aztec word “ahuacamolli,” which translates to “avocado soup” or “avocado sauce.” Avocados make a great first food for babies, once the child is ready to start solid food. Ripe avocados are soft and easily digested, yet loaded with nutrition, which makes them an excellent food for children of all ages.
California produces 90% of all avocados grown in the United States. Avocado is a “climacteric” fruit, meaning it matures but does not ripen on the tree. Avocados are usually picked mature but green, then kept in storage coolers until ripe. Avocados are ripe when they feel heavy for their size and yield to light pressure.
David Crocker is a nutritionist and master personal trainer. Questions? Contact David at email@example.com or text (864) 494-6215.