These green beauties are special – perhaps one of Mother Nature’s best creations! Avocados supply a wealth of delicious nutrients that provide an array of health benefits. Here’s why they should be on your brunch menu this weekend – and in your training diet throughout the year.
They’re nutrient rich – and heart-healthy
Avocados contain nearly two dozen essential nutrients, ranging from vitamins E and K (for bone health) to folate and copper, which both protect blood vessels from potential damage. Avocados also supply an array of polyphenols that researchers theorize work in concert with other nutrients, such as monounsaturated fat, to protect your heart.
In fact, in a newly released study from Penn State University, study participants who ate one avocado daily for five weeks significantly lowered their levels of artery-damaging LDL without lowering HDL levels, the so-called “good cholesterol”. This group also reduced their levels of small particle LDL, which researchers know promote damage to artery walls. (A second group that consumed monounsaturated vegetable oils but no avocados did not experience the same benefits).
The study’s lead researcher Dr. Penny Kris-Etherton, an expert in diet and heart health, suggests that the positive benefits come from a synergy of nutrients (including phenols, fiber, and vitamins), rather than just the monounsaturated fat in avocados.
Eat More Avo!
With all the good news about avocados, it’s time to make them a regular part of your diet – keeping one caveat in mind. One medium avocado supplies about 962 kilojoules, so you should eat avocados in place of (not in addition to) other high-kilojoule foods, like butter, cheese, and sour cream, which contain saturated fat. Here are a few quick ways to enjoy avocados, including my guacamole recipe – a must-have dip on a hot summer night:
Mash with fresh herbs and spread on bread or toast.
Blend with vinegar, herbs, lemon juice, and some plain kefir and drizzle on greens.
Lightly grill sliced avocado and add to veggie or meat burgers or stuff in sandwiches.
And of course, make guacamole!
Liz’s Famous Guacamole
When prepping the avocados, cut them into quarters and pull back the peel, being careful to retain all the deep green flesh, which has the richest concentration of carotenoid antioxidants. Serve the guacamole with fresh veggies or multi-grain chips, or spread it on burgers or grilled fish, chicken, or meat.
2 avocados, quartered, pitted, and peeled
½ cup diced red onion
1 large tomato, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
Juice from 1 lime
½ teaspoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons chopped coriander
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
In a bowl, mash the avocados with a fork, leaving it slightly chunky. Stir in the onion, tomato, garlic, lime juice, sesame oil, cilantro, salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes, is desired. Adjust seasonings to taste.