Avocado

Nature’s Big Green Vitamin Pill

avocadoCreamy, succulent avocados not only contain the best kind of fat, a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid, but also help block the absorption of bad fats (cholesterol).
They are high in lutein, which aids eyesight, and in potassium and folate, which may reduce the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease. Avocados are generally so low in pesticides, chemicals and toxic compounds that they would have to rank alongside blueberries as a near “perfect food”. I eat one avocado every day and recommend that those who seek great health do likewise. According to the Guiness Book Of World Records, Avocados have been officially dubbed as “The World’s Healthiest Fruit”.

The Avocado Background                                                                                                         

The avocado is native to Mexico and Central America. It’s name even comes from the ancient Aztec name for fruit : ahuacatl. By the time Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492, the avocado had already spread to Northern America and as far south as Peru.It was later introduced to the West Indies in the 1700’s.

Avocado Nutritional Value                                                            

Avocados contain vitamins and Minerals in absolute abundance, the avocado contains ALL nine essential amino acids  required by your body for the manufacture of new tissue. Therefore, it is considered a complete protein which is very unique for a non-animal food. Avocado is therefore perfect for vegetarians or those who want to cut back on animal meats, but want adequate protein.

  • Potassium, containing on average the same potassium content of two to three bananas. Good for stress, heart disease, blood pressure
  • Vitamin E, good for high blood pressure & stroke victims, eczema, asthma, PMT and many other conditions.
  • Vitamin K, good for ageing, bruising, inflammation, osteoporosis, bleeding/menstrual problems.
  • Vitamin B5, great for stress, allergies, constipation, burning feet, cholesterol, insomnia, arthritis.
  • Beta-Carotene, smokers, cancer, cataracts, many chronic diseases, pesticide exposure.
  • Iron, great news here. 25% of women in NZ are iron deficient. Why bother with beef?, avocados can help to prevent anemia.
  • Folic acid, important to prevent birth defects,  also for acne, anaemia, fatigue, memory loss, menstrual complaints, lung cancer, stress, gout.

Avocados Contain Good Fats and NOT Bad Fats

Avocados contain a high proportion of mono unsaturated fats. The prime unsaturated fatty acids are oleic and linoleic acids, these are safe even for those with high cholesterol, and have been proven in scientific studies to lower the bad (LDL) cholesterol, as well as maintaining beneficial (HDL) cholesterol levels in the body.  Avocados also contain significant amounts of Vitamin E. Did you know that they therefore constitute the perfect food for heart patients? In 1999, 8 people died every day under 75 yrs in NZ from coronary heart disease. There will most be similar statistics in your country. “Heart attacks should be preventable in almost everyone under the age of 75” Professor Rodney Jackson, Auckland

Avocados really are therefore the perfect food for :

  • Heart patients, recovering from heart attack or a by-pass operation.
  • High cholesterol sufferers.
  • Stroke victims or high-risk person, those with circulatory disorders like varicose veins, hemorrhoids.

 Did you Know These Facts About Avocados?

  • According to the Guinness Book of Records, avocados are the most nutritious food on earth.
  • Avocados are an ideal first food for babies, and are one of the best foods a breast-feeding mother can eat due to the high plant-fat based content. 1 per day.
  • Avocados contain an oil which makes up to 30% of the fruit’s weight. Your hair & skin will benefit.
  • The oil is used in many (expensive) facial creams, massage oils and sunburn lotions.

A Common Avocado Myth

  • The Avocado is a food that makes you fat, and should be avoided by those who seek to maintain their weight.
  • A common misconception. Avocados are not fattening for several reasons, here are just a few of them:
  • They contain twice the fibre of a banana on average. (regular bowel function  is an important part of weight maintenance)
  • They are a food which can  help to regulate appetite, being up to 30% plant fats by weight. (which helps to  reduce food cravings, particularly sweet foods!)
  • Manganese and zinc block the conversion of fats to be stored in the body, while biotin and folic acid help convert fat into energy. (they come complete with nutrients which help to prevent weight-gain)
  • · Like any food high in fats, it is the amount you eat which governs how fat you get. One avocado per day is certainly of no concern for those serious about losing or maintaining their current weight.

Eating Avocados

  • Not only are Avocados really good for you, they have a great creamy texture and subtle flavour.
  • They make a scrumptious snack on their own, or combined with other foods, can really make a good meal.
  • A food high in protein, vitamins and minerals, they really are a complete meal in their own handy wrapper just like a banana.
  • Avocados are a very versatile food, they can be eaten raw, baked in the oven, pureed for use in drinks or foods, even frozen with a little lemon juice for use later.
  • The Avocado is being eaten more often in NZ, as many more recipes are becoming available and kiwi chefs             discover the culinary delights this unique fruit has to offer.

Get To Know Your Avocado

Avocados can vary in skin texture, colour and shape according to the variety. By following these 5 handy tips, you can enjoy  eating avocados even more.

  •  To select a ready to eat Avocado.
  • Look for ripe fruit, which yields to slight pressure at the stem end. Don’t squeeze them, a  gentle pressure is all that is required. Some varieties like Hass go a darker colour as they ripen, and turn black when fully ripe.

To ripen Avocados: Leave at room temperature with ripe bananas or apples. To hasten, place Avocado in a brown  paper bag with 2 ripe bananas. Many fruitsrelease a natural   ethylene gas as they ripen, which speeds ripening of other fruit.
To store ripe Avocados: You can store ripe fruit in the refrigerator vegetable crisper for up to a week. Half-avocados are best kept with the seed left in them. To avoid discolouring, sprinkle with a little lemon juice and place in container with lid in the fridge.
To prepare Avocados for eating: Using a sharp knife, cut 360 degrees right around the fruit, touching the seed. Gently twist the two halves, remove the seed, peel the skin or spoon the flesh out directly.
To remove the seed efficiently: Place the cut avocado with the seed in it on a chopping board. Strike the seed sharply with a knife, rotate seed gently and lift it out.
Wipe your hands on the Avocado seed: Concerned with the many chemicals in your hand moisturiser? Keep the Avocado seed, wipe your hands on it later, as it is covered in Avocado oil !

References

  • Bazzano LA, He J, Odgen LG et al. Dietary intake of folate and risk of stroke in US men and women:NHANES I Epidemiologic Follow-up Study. Stroke 2002 May;33(5):1183-9 2002.
  • Ding H, Chin YW, Kinghorn AD, D’Ambrosio SM. Chemopreventive characteristics of avocado fruit. Semin Cancer Biol. 2007 May 17; [Epub ahead of print] 2007. PMID:17582784.
  • Ensminger AH, Esminger M. K. J. e. al. Food for Health: A Nutrition Encyclopedia. Clovis, California: Pegus Press; 1986 1986. PMID:15210.
  • Lopez LLedesma R, Frati Munari AC, Hernandez Dominguez BC, et al. Monounsaturated fatty acid (avocado) rich diet for mild hypercholesterolemia. Arch Med Res 1996 Winter;27(4):519-23 1996.
  • Lu QY, Arteaga JR, Zhang Q, Huerta S, Go VL, Heber D. Inhibition of prostate cancer cell growth by an avocado extract: role of lipid-soluble bioactive substances. J Nutr Biochem. 2005 Jan;16(1):23-30. 2005. PMID:15629237.
  • Rimm EB, et al. Folate and vitamin B6 from diet and supplementation in relation to risk of coronary heart disease among women. JAMA 1998;279(5):359-64 1998.
  • Sanchez-Monge R, Blanco C, Perales AD, et al. Class I chitinases, the panallergens responsible for the latex-fruit syndrome, are induced by ethylene treatment and inactivated by heating. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2000 Jul;106(1 Pt 1):190-5 2000.
  • Unlu NZ, Bohn T, Clinton SK, Schwartz SJ. Carotenoid absorption from salad and salsa by humans is enhanced by the addition of avocado or avocado oil. J Nutr. 2005 Mar;135(3):431-6. 2005. PMID:15735074.
  • Wood, Rebecca. The Whole Foods Encyclopedia. New York, NY: Prentice-Hall Press; 1988 1988. PMID:15220.

Page created 16 October 2010

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