Avocados are nutrient powerhouses with a lot of unfortunate misconceptions attached. There’s more to an avocado than fat (which as you’ll read is a big reason to eat them). Ask any Aussie, and you’ll soon find out why everyone down under, is up and over the moon for this month’s feature food.
Avocado’s are a fruit, however they put other fruits to shame for their impressive carbohydrate: sugar: fibre ratio. With only 2 grams of sugar per 18 grams of carbohydrate, the rest is all fibre. With such a low sugar content, and high oil content (15-20%) avocados help to keep you full, satisfied and energized. That’s the kind of fuel any Aussie could use before, or after hitting the surf. Similarly, for any Canadian before, or after hitting the “pow”!
An avocados fat content comes almost entirely from mono unsaturated fat, a long chain fatty acid and heart healthy choice; a small amount of Omega 6 essential fatty acid (linoleic acid); and a small amount of saturated fat. While an entire avocado does have around 29 grams of fat, whole food based fats and oils, even when saturated, are a vital component to longevity and wellbeing. Keep in mind, it’s rare we would eat an entire avocado to ourselves, an appropriate serving size is 1/4 of an avocado, with 1/2 being totally suitable for more active individuals.
Fats keep cell membranes firm (which is a crucial component to keeping skin firm and taught as we age); the myelin sheath (which insulates axons that conduct nerve impulses) is made up of fats, therefore healthy fats help your cells communicate properly; and fats also help vitamins and minerals to be absorbed and transported. As you’ll see the nutrition profile for avocados boasts high amounts of a number of key vitamins and minerals. Therefore eating an avocado is like taking the most well-timed, bio-available multi-vitamin.
I’d like to take a moment to “nerd out” and give you the nutrient by nutrient breakdown of an avocado, but also explore why you should care…(nutrition amounts are based on a 1/2 avocado serving size)
Fibre: 7g. Mainly soluble fibre, which helps create satiety by slowing digestion, and promotes bowel regularity to keep your insides clean.
Vitamin E: 12% of your recommended daily intake (RDI). This key antioxidant (esp. for the brain) is anti clotting, and great for your skin.
Folate and Viatmin B9: 18% RDI. Responsible for cellular health (and replication) and plays a big part in neurotransmitter production. Neurotransmitters are things like: Serotonin for emotions such as happiness; Acetylcholine for mental alertness; Adrenalin and dopamine for motivation.
Vitamin C: 21% RDI. Helps block excess cholesterol build up and promotes arterial health.
Magnesium: 7% RDI. Works in conjunction with calcium to maintain a smooth heart rhythm, reduces fatigue and cramping.
B6: 11% RDI. Great for hormone balance (think PMS and menopause), level moods, skin health and stress balance.
Riboflavin, Niacin and Thiamine (Vitamins B1-B3): 18 % RDI. B vitamins work together to help your recover from stress and keep energized. Great at preventing burn out symptoms.
Check out the full nutrient profile here.
Convinced yet? Head on out and get yourself some fresh, ripe organic avocados (to maximize nutrient density), and check out some of the following inspirational ways to add them to the everyday:
The Best Guacamole Recipe
(Adapted from vegan athlete Brendan Brazier’s book “The Thrive Diet”)
- 2 ripe avocado-cubed
- 1/2 tomato-diced
- 1 clove garlic-minced
- 1/4 cup of onion-diced
- 1/4 cup tahini (raw, ground sesame seed paste)-It’s a must!
- 1 1/2 tbsp lemon or lime juice
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- Optional Upgrades: 3 tbsp brown rice miso paste, and 1/4 cup finely chopped and soaked seaweed (like kelp).
- Mash all ingredients together thoroughly. Serve immediately for best color.
- Yields 2 cups.
Brekkie: Pear and avocado smoothie
Lunch: Refreshing, light and nutrient dense: Avo, grapefruit and spinach salad.
RHN Laura Mar works at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition, and while she blogs mainly about fabulous desserts, I came across her scallop and avo recipe which would be an easy, yet seemingly exotic dinner.
I also came across a brilliant online resource site hosted by Avocados Australia Limited (AAL), which includes loads more recipes, and some great advice on ripening, storing, peeling and even growing avocados. Have a peek: http://www.avocado.org.au/