Avocados, also known as alligator pears, are simply amazing. It appears we aren't the only ones who think so. According to the Hass Avocado Board, avocado sales increased almost 30% in just two years. What makes them so loveable?
1. Avocados are nutrient dense and that's the best way to eat! A nutrient-dense food is one that provides a significant amount of nutrients for relatively few calories.
Just a 1 ounce serving (about 1/5th of an avocado) provides nearly 20 vitamins and minerals and 2 grams of dietary fiber in just 50 calories.
As a plus, they are naturally sodium-free and low in sugar.
It comes as no surprise, then, that an investigation of avocados published in the Nutrition Journal found them to be associated with improved overall diet quality, nutrient intake, and reduced risk of metabolic syndrome.
2. They are great as is and yet so versatile! We love that classic guacamole. However, have you tried avocado blended in soups and smoothies, sliced in burgers, incorporated in dressings and marinades, or in rice bowls, stir fries, omelettes, seafood sauces and salsas? The list goes on.
Make your salads more filling with sliced or cubed avocado. Make your oatmeal creamier by replacing butter with avocado.
Avocados also make a great substitute for butter in baked goods, for sour cream atop baked potatoes, and for mayo in tuna or egg salads.
Because of their deliciously creamy consistency, one can enjoy avocaods as early as, well, infancy! Even babies love them.
3. Over 75% of this fruit (yes, it is a fruit with fat) is unsaturated, especially the healthy monounsaturated fats. This makes it a great way to replace foods high in saturated fats. Thanks to its fat content, when eaten together with foods rich in fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, or K, the vitamins are better absorbed (another reason to add avocado to your salad and salsa!).
4. Avocados contain phytosterols. These are plant sterols that compete with cholesterol for absorption. They can help lower total cholesterol levels. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Lipidology also found avocado helped decrease triglyceride levels and LDL cholesterol levels when avocado substituted foods high in saturated fats.
5. They may tame the flames of inflammation! In one study, burgers were either consumed alone or with slices of fresh avocado. Four hours after consumption of the plain lean burger, interleukin-6 (an indicator of inflammation) increased significantly. No such change was observed in subjects that consumed the burger with avocado. This observation suggests beneficial anti-inflammatory properties of avocados.
6. Last but not least (and actually our favorite reason!), they aid in blood sugar control and stabilization! Although more research is coming our way on how avocados influence the insulin response, adding avocado to a lunch meal was shown to reduce blood insulin levels for a period of 3 hours.
Avocados are high in fat. That 1 ounce serving we discussed earlier (just 1/5th of the fruit) actually contains about 4.5 grams of fat. We know that the fat in foods can enhance satiety, keeping you fuller longer and keeping cravings at bay.
So, next time you go grocery shopping, don't skip the avocados. Ripe avocados will be firm but slightly yielding to gentle pressure. The best ones have firm skin and no soft spots.
Are all your options unripe? You can speed up the ripening process by placing the fruit in a paper bag and storing it at room temperature until it is ready to eat.
2. Nutrition Journal 201312:1. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-12-1
3. J Nutr. 2005 Mar;135(3):431-6.
4. Journal of Clinical Lipidology (2016) 10, 161–171
5. Food Funct. 2013 Feb 26;4(3):384-91. doi: 10.1039/c2fo30226h.
6. Nutr J. 2013;12:155.