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Avocado - Nutrition Facts - How Healthy is the Avocado?
Avocado - Nutrition Facts.
How healthy is the Avocado? Supposedly the world's healthiest fruit.
It gives us a rich source of vitamins K, B6, and C, as well as potassium, folic acid, and copper, to name just a few.
Avocados also contain oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat; helping to lower cholesterol.
Potassium helps regulate blood pressure, and taken in the right amounts; can help in cases of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and other circulatory diseases.
Avocado also contains folate, an important nutrient for a healthy heart (about 23% of the recommended daily intake, in just one medium fruit.) The consumption of folate rich foods will noticeably lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
This fruit also contains vitamin E, oleic acid (a monounsaturated fatty acid) known to protect against breast cancer.
It is also a highly concentrated source of lutein, a carotenoid helpful in the absorption of other nutrients and health promoting carotenoids.
How Healthy Is The Avocado?
Just the odd slice of avocado with salad, or added to Mexican salsa, will help the body absorb the benefits of all the other vegetables. For example, all the wonderful benefits of tomatoes are greatly increased when you eat them with avocado.
Avocado oil is the best choice for salad dressing too.
For quite some time, people have been wary of avocado. There are false claims that it is toxic. The avocado tree can be toxic, but the only toxicity on the fruit, can be found in the peel or the stone, neither of which are eaten. The flesh of the avocado is extremely healthy and rich in nutrients.
Avocado can cause allergies in some people, just like walnuts, Kiwis and bananas.
Others have been afraid that they have a high fat content, hence the nickname 'butter pear'. An average size avocado will contain about 30 g of fat, but it is monounsaturated fat, the healthy fat that actually lowers cholesterol.
LDL (low-density lipoprotein) is the bad fat.
HDL (high-density lipoprotein) the good fat.
In tests, people eating a high intake of avocado, experienced a significant drop in cholesterol. Their levels of LDL (linked with heart disease) lowered. Their levels of HDL (which decrease the risk of heart disease) raised.
Avocados, and their monounsaturated fats, are actually a good and nutritional substitute for butter, mayonnaise, or cream cheese. The mashed flesh of an avocado is tastier, lower in saturated fat, higher in monounsaturated fat, and lower in calories. Although of course, if you are counting calories; avocado has less than butter, cream, cheese, mayonnaise etc, but still has its own calorie content.
A medium-sized avocado as 30 g of fat and 330 calories. Measuring as two tablespoons, about 1/6 of the fruit, that's 5 g of fat and 55 cal. Two tablespoons of butter or mayonnaise, have 22 g of fat and 200 calories.
So yes they contain fat and calories, but are still a healthier option.
Salads provide alpha carotene, beta carotene, and lutein, but with avocado in the salad the absorption of these carotenoids is markedly increased.
Avocados, as well as chestnuts and bananas, contain chitinases, the panallergens that have been associated with the latex fruit allergy. Evidence has been found showing a cross-reaction between latex and these fruits. Anyone with the latex allergy, is likely to have allergies to these foods as well.
How to choose a good avocado?
Look first at the neck, if it has a narrow neck, as opposed to round topped with no neck, generally means it was tree ripened, having a lot better taste.
Next the touch: When ripe, it should be slightly soft to the touch, but have a smooth, uncracked skin.
When overripe, and squashy, it can still be used as a spread, or indeed in guacamole.
When under-ripe, still firm, it's still okay to buy with a view to future use. They can be ripened in the home, helped along by placing them in a paper bag.
A perfectly ripe avocado will easily be cut in half, you then twist the two halves in opposite directions. The stone should come out easily, and the skin will come away just as easily.
The flesh is a creamy yellow and green, but will turn brown or even black, when exposed to air.
They should be used immediately, or can be wrapped completely tightly in clingfilm and refrigerated. Fresh lemon or lime juice sprinkled on the flesh will help keep its colour.
A complete avocado cannot be frozen, but the removed flesh can be mashed, and then frozen without problem.
Guacamole is made from the soft flesh of the avocado, mashed and mixed with a little fresh chilli, some chopped onion, and topped with a little chopped tomato. Excellent dip, very tasty. Mexican salsa, with its tomato content and chilies, is very good for the health. Eating alongside guacamole, its nutritional value is increased, and more quickly absorbed into the system, as explained above.
While not the best fruit for those on a calorie controlled diet, it can still be eaten, in moderation, and its nutritional value is undisputed.
When on a diet with no potatoes, bread etc, if one is only eating salads and fruit, then avocado would be more help than hindrance.
Altogether an extremely healthy and delicious food.
For more information on chitinases, read US Government explanations at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10887324