Avocados are a magical. They’re packed with essential vitamins and minerals, full of delicious healthy fats, and I eat avocado every single day so I figured they needed their own highlight.
Not only do they go with just about anything– sweet, savory, in smoothies, by themselves, etc., I would consider them as one of nature’s best superfoods. I used to make the mistake of eating only 1/8th at a time (what seemed to be the serving recommendation by certain organizations) because the fear of fatty foods was real, but have since grown to enjoy about ½ an avocado for lunch and ½ for dinner. Of course, every person is different and may function best with less or more. It’s up to you when it comes to eating foods that make YOU feel good.
Avocados are considered a fruit as well as an energy- and nutrient-dense food. This means that although they do pack a higher amount of healthy fats and calories, they also provide a myriad of health benefits for the body and keep you feeling satisfied. Avocados are a great food to supplement a balanced diet.
It’s also one of the safest crops when it comes to pesticide exposure, due to its thick outer shell. This is the reason why you don’t need to buy organic avocados– it’s listed as one of the fruits on the Clean Fifteen, a list of 15 produce items least likely to contain pesticide residues.
Avocados are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Research shows that diets moderately high in healthy fats, especially MUFAs help reduce LDL cholesterol and can even benefit insulin and blood sugar levels (source). Eating avocados also helps lower the risk associated with metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that occur, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
The two main types of polyunsaturated fats are omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, both are considered “essential,” meaning our bodies do not produce and therefore we need to get them through our diets. We need these omega’s for brain function and cell growth. Avocados range more on the omega-6 side rather than omega-3, which isn’t always what we should strive to focus on, as eating more omega-6 than omega-3 can contribute to inflammation and weight gain. Currently, the typical Western American diet ranges from 20 to 50:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3, far, far above what it should be (source).
The best way to improve your ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 ratio is to of course eat a variety of healthy fats, including those rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as flax oil, walnuts, krill oil, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and almonds.
*Do your best to AVOID fats like canola oil, corn oil, soy oil, partially hydrogenated oils, margarine and shortening as these fats are highly processed, highly oxidized, and highly refined, making them detrimental to your health. Check labels–most of these fats are hidden in processed, packaged items!!!
Avos are naturally cholesterol free and low in saturated fats, making them the perfect addition to any balanced meal. They’re great to pair with other fruits and vegetables since they increase nutrient absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E, and K). Each type of fat-soluble vitamin plays a different role in the body. Vitamin A plays an important role in maintaining healthy vision (foods include: fish liver oil, grass-fed butter, carrots, kale spinach), vitamin D aids in bone health and development (foods include: fish oil, fatty fish), vitamin E is a key antioxidant that helps the body destroy free radicals: unstable atoms that can be very harmful to the body and can lead to the formation of cancer cells (foods include: spinach, almonds, sweet potato, avocado, wheat germ, sunflower seeds), and vitamin K helps to regulate normal blood clotting and plays an important role in bone health (foods include: kale, spinach, brussels sprouts, broccoli).
When comparing avocados with bananas, avocados contain more potassium, fiber, healthy fats and protein per cup, as well as less sugar and carbohydrates. Potassium plays a big role in muscle strength, nerve function and heart health.
Avocados are also rich in glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that helps prevent free radical damage in the body, as well as containing a number of bioactive phytochemicals including carotenoids, terpenoids, D-mannoheptulose, persenone A and B, phenols, and glutathione that have been reported to have anti-carcinogenic properties (source).
Other benefits include:
- rich in folate, pantothenic acid (vitamin B5)
- contain important trace minerals like iron and copper
- protein: avos have the highest protein and lowest sugar content of any fruit
I recommend basing your meals around eating a quality source of protein, healthy fats, greens and adequate fiber. Avocados are rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber, which helps lower cholesterol, slow digestion, and keep our digestive system regular. Not eating enough fiber throughout the day can make it hard to control blood sugar and appetite because fiber plays a huge role in digestion and keeping us full.
How To Pick The Perfect Avocado
I typically like to buy avocados at different stages of ripeness, so they ripen as the week goes on. When choosing avos at the store, don’t go off the color– it’s not always the best indicator. Cradle the avocado in your hand and gently squeeze with your palm. If it yields to gentle pressure, it should be ripe and eaten within one to three days. If it doesn’t yield to pressure, it should be left at room temperature and can take anywhere from three to five days to ripen. If you want the avo to ripen sooner, place in a brown paper bag at room temperature for 1-2 days.
Remember that cold slows down ripening, so once an avocado becomes slightly soft, place in the refrigerator. *Never place an unripe avocado in the fridge.
I eat about ½ an avocado in one sitting and place the other half, pit intact, in a stasher bag (reusable silicone ziplock) to store in the fridge.