Did you know that the avocado has been called the world’s most perfect food and has many health benefits?
It has achieved this distinction because many nutritionists claim it not only contains everything a person needs to survive — but it has also been found to contribute to the prevention and control of *Alzheimer’s, cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other health conditions. The avocado (Persea gratissima or P. americana) originated in Puebla, Mexico and its earliest use dates back to 10,000 years B.C. Since AD 900, the avocado tree has been cultivated and grown in Central and South America. In the 19th century, the avocado made its entry into California, and has since become a very successful commercial crop. Ninety-five percent (95%) of U.S. avocados are gown in Southern California.
The avocado, also called the alligator pear, is a high-fiber, sodium- and cholesterol-free food that provides nearly 20 essential nutrients, including fiber, is rich in healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (such as omega-3 fatty acids), vitamins A, C, D, E, K and the B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12 and folate) — as well as potassium. Foods naturally rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as avocados, are widely acknowledged as the secret to a healthy heart, a brilliant brain and eagle eyes.
Dr. Daniel G. Amen, a clinical neuroscientist, psychiatrist, brain-imaging expert and author of the New York Times bestseller Change Your Brain, Change Your Life counts avocados as one of the top brain-healthy foods that can help prevent Alzheimer’s Disease. That’s not only because of the avocado’s health benefits omega-3 fatty acid content but also its Vitamin E content. An international journal called Alzheimer’s Disease and Associated Disorders reported its findings from years of clinical trials — high doses of Vitamin E can neutralize free radicals and the buildup of proteins to reverse the memory loss in Alzheimer’s patients; reverse symptoms of Alzheimer’s in the early stages and retard the progression of the disease. And its folate content helps to prevent the formation of tangled nerve fibers associated with Alzheimer’s.
The Virtues and Benefits of the Avocado Are Too Numerous to Mention. But Here Are Just a Few More Avocado Health Benefits That Its Nutritional Profile Provides:
- Monounsaturated Fats — These types of fats help control triglycerides in the bloodstream, lower blood cholesterol and control diabetes.
- Folate — This water-soluble B vitamin promotes healthy cell and tissue development. According to the National Institute of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements, “This is especially important during periods of rapid cell division and growth such as infancy and pregnancy. Folate is also essential for metabolism of homocysteine and helps maintain normal levels of this amino acid.”
- Lutein — This is a carotenoid (a natural pigment) that protects against cataracts and certain types of cancer, and reduces the risk of macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in adults 65 years of age and older. Avocados contain 3 or more times as much lutein as found in other common vegetables and fruits.
- Oleic acid and Potassium — Both of these nutrients also help in lowering cholesterol and reducing the risk of high blood pressure.
You can add these avocado benefits to your diet in many ways:
1) The easiest way is to cut the avocado in half and sprinkle it with herbal seasoning or maple syrup.
2) Chop the avocado and add it to a salad, or use it as a topping or side garnish for soup.
3) Mash an avocado and spread it on bread or a bagel (in place of butter or cream cheese).
4) Cut an avocado in half and fill the little hollow (left after you remove the pit) with your favorite healthy topping such as herbed rice or couscous.
5) Make an avocado **dressing or the crowd-pleasing guacamole dip to add flavor to raw or steamed vegetables.
You can easily find many avocado recipes online. Blended with fruit, avocados make a rich and delicious snack, side dish or dessert — and produces highly-nutritious baby food which delivers “good fat” for baby’s brain and physical development. Before you indulge in avocados to your heart’s content, however, remember that they have lots of calories because of their fat content. According to WebMD, “A medium-sized avocado contains 30 grams of fat, as much as a quarter-pound burger”. That’s why diet experts have long urged Americans to go easy on avocados in favor of less fatty fruits and vegetables. But now nutritionists are taking another look.
They’re finding that most of the fat in an avocado is monounsaturated — the “good” kind that actually lowers cholesterol levels. Thanks to this new understanding, the U.S. government recently revised its official nutrition guidelines to urge Americans to eat more avocados.
Source: Underground Health Reporter
**See the dressing recipe at the end of this post.
And did you know that the way you skin/peel an avocado can have a bearing on the amount of nutrients you get from it?
Avocados contain a complex package of phytonutrients, including carotenoids, which appear to protect against certain cancers, heart disease and age-related macular dengeration. It appears that the greatest concentration of these beneficial carotenoids is in the dark green area closest to the peel. So, to preserve the area with the greatest concentration of antioxidants, you basically want to peel the avocado with your hands, as you would a banana:
- First, cut the avocado length-wise, around the seed
- Holding each half, twist them in the opposite directions to separate them from the seed
- Remove the seed
- Cut each half, lengthwise
- Next, using your thumb and index finger, simply peel the skin off each piece
Hey, why not take that seed and grow your own avocado tree?
Here’s some advice about growing a tree from seed I found on Facebook: “You need to take a grafting class! Grow your seed and when it gets big enough, go to your local box store or nursery and “accidentally” hit a tree knocking off a cutting that you can take home and graft onto your riot stock. The graft will grow a fruit producing tree. You can graft multiple cuttings from different trees over time which will also allow you to only have one tree that pollinated itself!”
And be sure to read my post titled More Good News For Avocado Eaters!, which contains some impressive statistics having to do with eating avocados, and yummy recipes you’ll want to try.
And to end on, an easy peasy, good tasting, very healthy dressing you can use instead of ranch….
1 large avocado, 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, 1/2 cup greek yogurt, 1 teaspoon hot sauce, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 2 garlic cloves, 3/4 teaspoon salt.
Enjoy! (Check out www.facebook.com/bemorefitness for more stuff like this.)
p.s. Be sure to follow Self-help Health to receive helpful tips on a regular basis. And check out my website’s To Your Health page and Evolution Made Easier blog for even more health-related information and resources.