Is your Avocado worth it?
By Lisa Audy, ClubSport Fremont Nutrition Expert
Just a few years ago, putting those two words together would have been an oxymoron. But after decades of following the FDA’s recommendation to keep fat consumption to a minimum, science and research have recently turned the fat-free paradigm on its ear. “Good” — or healthy — fats actually help your body function optimally.
This much we now know, and there is plenty of evidence-based research out there for us to comfortably make the recommendations to eat more healthy fat every day.
At the center of the good fat phenomenon is the avocado. Nutritious beyond belief, one avocado is loaded with fiber, has twice the potassium of a banana, and contains 36 percent of the daily requirement of vitamin K, 30 percent of the folate, and 20 percent each of vitamin B5 (needed to break down carbs), vitamin B6, and vitamin C. They’re also great sources of vitamin E, niacin, and riboflavin.
Paramount to all of the above, avocados are loaded with healthy fat. According to the California Avocado Commission, a medium avocado contains about 22.5 grams of fat, two-thirds of which is monounsaturated. (Monounsaturated fat is associated with healthier serum lipid profiles. Serum lipid profiles are the test that measures total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides).
Now, with nine calories per gram of fat, there is no argument, that is a lot of calories to consume. But what happens when you eat healthy fat from sources like avocados is that they satiate you, keeping you feeling full longer. The net result is you eat less. Why is this important? Fat helps regulate blood sugar by not eliciting an insulin response. This is key to any weight loss effort, since insulin is the fat storage hormone. For our ancestors, insulin was a good thing, as it helped them store fat during times of famine. For us, not so much. Today, insulin mainly functions to lower blood sugar due to consistent consumption of net carbohydrates that too often make up the standard American diet. In short, more healthy fat means less insulin, and less insulin means less fat storage.
While there are clearly benefits to eating healthy fat when weight management is the goal, research has suggested that avocados might help improve lipid profiles, both in healthy individuals and in those with mildly elevated cholesterol levels. One study showed that five healthy individuals saw a 16 percent decrease of their cholesterol level following a week-long diet high in monounsaturated fat from avocados. In those with elevated cholesterol levels, the avocado diet resulted in a 17 percent decrease of cholesterol and a 22 percent decrease of both LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides, along with an 11 percent increase of the so-called “good” HDL cholesterol.
Try adding this fruit (that’s right — it’s not a veggie) to your next meal or snack. Beyond guacamole, avocados have become the favorite ingredient in smoothie recipes, topping for morning toast, and even in decadent desserts such as chocolate mousse. From morning to night, there are lots of reasons to enjoy this nutrient-rich delight — it’s where (good) fat meets health and wellness.
Lisa Audy earned her Nutritional Therapy certification through the Nutritional Therapy Association Inc. and her goal is to educate, support, and motivate her clients with wellness plans that work for their individual lifestyle. She’s a strong believer that a diet of whole (unprocessed), nutrient dense, properly prepared food is the key to optimal function and vitality.