Avocado: The Amazing Fruit

After reading all I have to tell you about Avocados, I guarantee you that you will fall in love with that fruit, you will run to the store and get some good ready-to-eat avocados and you will want to have one every day.

Very fortunate are the people who live in tropical countries. Fortunate because almost every kind of fruits are grown there. Pineapples, Bananas, Avocados, Mangos, just to name a few of my favorites.

The avocado is colloquially known as the Alligator Pear, reflecting its shape and the leather-like appearance of its skin.
Avocado, is the amazing fruit I am looking forward to talk about here today not only for its numerous benefits but mainly because this fantastic fruit is so wrongly judged due to its high fat content. Whenever I say “I eat two bananas and two avocados a day”, people have their eyes wide open and say ” but they are fattening ” . My answer about bananas was in my previous bananas blog and my answer about avocados, is following below for your enjoyment and mine.

Avocados are Nutrient, Dense and contain essential vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients:

Eating nutrient dense foods is one of the healthiest ways to eat. Nutrient density is a measure of the amount of nutrients a food contains in comparison to the number of calories. Avocados are Fresh, Wholesome and Naturally nutrient dense containing a good source of vitamin K, dietary fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin C, folate and copper. Avocados are also a good source of potassium, they actually contain more potassium than bananas, one avocado is higher in potassium than a medium banana. They have the highest protein content of any fruit.

Avocados and Your Heart

Here is a short introduction to cholesterol and how Avocados can help:

According to the American Heart Association, knowing which fats raise LDL (bad) cholesterol and which ones don’t is the first step in lowering your risk of heart disease. In addition to the LDL produced naturally by your body, saturated fat, trans-fatty acids and dietary cholesterol can also raise blood cholesterol. Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats appear to not raise LDL cholesterol. Cholesterol can’t dissolve in the blood. It has to be transported to and from the cells by carriers called lipoproteins. Low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, is known as “bad” cholesterol. High-density lipoprotein, or HDL, is known as “good” cholesterol.

Mono and polyunsaturated fats, when consumed in moderation and eaten in place of saturated or trans fats, can help reduce blood cholesterol levels and decrease risk for heart disease. Avocados are one of the few fruits that provide “good” fats. Avocados contribute good fats to one’s diet, providing 3g of monounsaturated fat and 0.5g polyunsaturated fat per 1 oz. serving which also is trans fat-free, cholesterol-free, sodium-free and contains only 0.5 grams saturated fat. MONOUNSATURATED FATS  help to lower blood cholesterol if used in place of saturated fats.

Lower Cholesterol

Avocados are high in beta-sitosterol, a compound that has been shown to lower cholesterol levels.

In one study, 45 volunteers experienced an average drop in cholesterol of 17% after eating avocados for only one week. In another study of people with moderately high cholesterol levels, individuals who ate a diet high in avocados showed clear health improvements. After seven days on the diet that included avocados, they had significant decreases in total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, along with an 11% increase in health promoting HDL cholesterol.

Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, but a healthy diet and exercise plan may help reduce your risk of developing this life-threatening illness.

The American Heart Association (AHA) Dietary Guidelines recommend a diet that has at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, contains up to 30% of calories from fats (primarily unsaturated) and is low in saturated fat, cholesterol, trans fats and sodium while being rich in potassium.

Avocados are perfect because they have both monosaturated and polyunsaturated fat, contain potassium, are low in sodium and saturated fat. The average avocado contains 300 calories and 30 grams of healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat.

Heart Health:

Although they are fruits, avocados have a high fat content of between 71 to 88% of their total calories – about 20 times the average for other fruits. A typical avocado contains 30 grams of fat, but 20 of these fat grams are health-promoting monounsaturated fats, especially oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that may help to lower cholesterol.

Check out the Nutritional Comparison below for Spread and dips for a Portion = 1 ounce

Fresh avocado                                  Butter Salted                                         Cheddar Cheese
2 Tbsp or 2-3 thin slices                   2Tbsp                                                    1 slice
calories………….50                          calories…………204                             calories…………114
total fat (g)……..4.5                          total fat (g)……..23                               total fat (g)……..9.4
sat fat(g)………..0.5                          sat fat(g)………..14.6                           sat fat(g)………..6
Cholesterol(mg).0                             Cholesterol(mg).61                               Cholesterol(mg)30
Sodium(mg)…….0                            Sodium(mg)…….164                            Sodium(mg)…….176

High Blood Pressure:

Avocados are a good source of potassium, a mineral that helps regulate blood pressure. Adequate intake of potassium can help to guard against circulatory diseases, like high blood pressure, heart disease or stroke. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Association has authorized a health claim that states: “Diets containing foods that are good sources of potassium and low in sodium may reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.”

Avocados are also an excellent source of glutathione, an important antioxidant that researchers say is important in preventing aging, cancer, and heart disease. Glutathione also functions as an antioxidant to mop up free radicals. Avocados are also four times richer in beta-sitosterol than other commonly eaten fruits such as bananas, apples, cantaloupes, grapes, plums and cherries.
Beta-sitosterol helps lower blood pressure; and according to Dr. Heber, in some studies, beta-sitosterol combined with avocado’s monounsaturated fat helped reduce cholesterol levels

One cup of avocado has 23% of the recommended daily value of folate (27 mcg per serving), a nutrient important for heart health. . Studies show that people who eat diets rich in folate have a much lower incidence of heart disease than those who don’t. FOLATE Promotes healthy cell and tissue development. 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.
To determine the relationship between folate intake and heart disease, researchers followed over 80,000 women for 14 years using dietary questionnaires. They found that women who had higher intakes of dietary folate had a 55% lower risk of having heart attacks or fatal heart disease. Another study showed that individuals who consume folate-rich diets have a much lower risk of cardiovascular disease or stroke than those who do not consume as much of this vital nutrient.

Stroke Prevention:
The high levels of folate in avocado are also protective against strokes. People who eat diets rich in folate have a much lower risk of stroke than those who don’t.

Vitamin E Powerhouse:

Avocados are the best fruit source of vitamin E, an essential fat-soluble vitamin that acts as an antioxidant, protects against many diseases and especially helps maintains overall health by protecting the body tissue from damage caused by unstable substances called free radicals. Free radicals can harm cells, tissues, and organs. They are believed to play a role in certain conditions associated with aging. Vitamin E is known to slow the aging process and protect against heart disease and common forms of cancer by neutralising free radicals, which cause cellular damage. A study from University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) indicates that avocados have nearly twice as much vitamin E as previously known, making avocados the highest fruit source of the powerful antioxidant. Vitamin E also plays a role in healthy skin and hair. Vitamin E is important in the formation of red blood cells and helps the body use vitamin K.

VITAMIN K (8% DV per serving) – Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in blood clotting. It is known as the clotting vitamin, because without it blood would not clot. Some studies indicate that it helps in maintaining strong bones in the elderly.

**The vitamin E, monounsaturated fats, and glutathione in avocado are great for your heart **

Optimal Health:

Not only are avocados a rich source of monounsaturated fatty acids including oleic acid, which has been shown to offer significant protection against breast cancer, but it is also a very concentrated dietary source of the carotenoid lutein; it contains measurable amounts of related carotenoids (zeaxanthin, alpha-carotene and beta-carotene) plus significant quantities of tocopherols (vitamin E).

Breast Cancer Protection
Avocado, like olive oil, is high in oleic acid, which has been shown to prevent breast cancer in numerous studies.

Carotenoids and Lutein in Avocados and Prostate Cancer Prevention

Investigators in the United States have reported that Avocados have been shown to inhibit the growth of prostate cancer. Although the avocado is known as a rich source of monounsaturated fatty acids, there has been far less attention given to its content of other bioactive substances including carotenoids, which might contribute to cancer preventive properties similar to those attributed to other fruits and vegetables.
In a laboratory study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, an extract of avocado containing these carotenoids and tocopherols inhibited the growth of both androgen-dependent and androgen-independent prostate cancer cells.

But when researchers tried exposing the prostate cancer cells to lutein alone, the single carotenoid did not prevent cancer cell growth and replication. Not only was the whole matrix of carotenoids and tocopherols in avocado necessary for its ability to kill prostate cancer cells, but the researchers also noted that the significant amount of monounsaturated fat in avocado plays an important role. Carotenoids are lipid (fat)-soluble, which means fat must be present to ensure that these bioactive carotenoids will be absorbed into the bloodstream. Just as Nature intends, avocado delivers the whole heath-promoting package.

So enjoying a few slices of avocado in your tossed salad or mixing some chopped avocado into your favorite salsa will not only add a rich, creamy flavor, but will greatly increase your body’s ability to absorb the health-promoting carotenoids that vegetables provide.

Eye Health:

The research also showed that avocados are the highest fruit source of lutein – A carotenoid (a natural pigment)- that may be associated with a lower risk of eye diseases. Lutein is an important antioxidant that may help your eyes stay healthy while maintaining the health of your skin. Being among the 20 most frequently consumed fruits, one avocado contains 81 mcg of Lutein, an important nutrient for healthy eyes, as it helps protect against eye disease such as cataracts and macular degeneration two disabling age-related eye diseases.

Better Nutrient Absorption

Research has found that certain nutrients are absorbed better when eaten with avocado. In one study, adding avocado to salad increased absorption of alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and lutein 7.2 times, 15.3 times, and 5.1 times higher, respectively, than the average amount of these carotenoids absorbed when avocado-free salad was eaten.

Adding avocado to salsa increased lycopene and beta-carotene absorption 4.4 and 2.6 times higher, respectively, than the average amount of these nutrients absorbed from avocado-free salsa. Since avocados contain a large variety of nutrients including vitamins, minerals, as well as heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, eating a little avocado along with carotenoid-rich vegetables and fruits is an excellent way to improve your body’s ability to absorb carotenoids while also receiving other nutritional-and taste-benefits.

Not only did adding avocado to a salad of carrot, lettuce and baby spinach or to salsa greatly increase study participants’ absorption of carotenoids from these foods, but the improvement in carotenoid availability occurred even when a very small amount-as little as 2 ounces-of avocado was added.

A study published in the Journal of Nutrition tested the hypothesis that since carotenoids are lipophilic (literally, fat-loving, which means they are soluble in fat, not water), consuming carotenoid-rich foods along with monounsaturated-fat-rich avocado might enhance their bioavailability.

Avocado Phytonutrients Combat Oral Cancer

According to Great Britain’s Mouth Cancer Foundation, Oral cancer is even more likely to result in death than breast, skin, or cervical cancer, with a mortality rate of about 50% due to late detection.

Avocados may offer a delicious dietary strategy for the prevention of oral cancer.

” Cancer Biol. 2007 Oct;17(5):386-94. Epub 2007 May 17.

Chemopreventive characteristics of avocado fruit.
Ding H, Chin YW, Kinghorn AD, D’Ambrosio SM.
Division of Radiobiology, Department of Radiology, College of Medicine, The Ohio State University,        2001

Polaris Pkwy, Columbus, OH 43240, USA.
Phytochemicals are recognized as playing an important role in cancer prevention by fruits and
vegetables. The avocado is a widely grown and consumed fruit

that is high in nutrients and low in calories, sodium, and fats. Studies have shown that phytochemicals extracted from the avocado fruit selectively induce cell cycle arrest, inhibit growth, and induce apoptosis in precancerous and cancer cell lines. Our recent studies indicate that phytochemicals extracted with chloroform from avocado fruits target multiple signaling pathways and increase intracellular reactive oxygen leading to apoptosis. This review summarizes the reported phytochemicals in avocado fruit and discusses their molecular mechanisms and targets. These studies suggest that individual and combinations of phytochemicals from the avocado fruit may offer an advantageous dietary strategy in cancer prevention.”

Oral Cancer Defense
Research has shown that certain compounds in avocados are able to increase the amount of free radicals (reactive oxygen species) within pre-cancerous and cancerous human oral cell lines, that leads to their death, without harming healthy cells. Earlier research by UCLA scientists also indicates that avocados ( mainly the Hass avocados kind )may inhibit the growth of prostate cancer as well. When analyzed, avocados were found to contain the highest content of lutein among commonly eaten fruits as well as measurable amounts of related carotenoids (zeaxanthin, alpha-carotene, and beta-carotene). Lutein accounted for 70% of the measured carotenoids, and the avocado also contained significant quantities of vitamin E.

Other vitamins and minerals absolutely needed by the body and that are also found in avocados:

POTASSIUM (140 mg/4% DV per serving) – In the body, potassium is classified as an electrolyte. Potassium is a very important mineral to the human body. It has various roles in metabolism and body functions and is essential for the proper function of all cells, tissues, and organs: It assists in the regulation of the acid-base balance; assists in protein synthesis from amino acids and in carbohydrate metabolism; and, it is necessary for the building of muscle and for normal body growth.

MAGNESIUM (8.7 mg/2% DV per serving) –An essential mineral for human nutrition. Magnesium in the body serves several important functions: Contraction and relaxation of muscles; Function of certain enzymes in the body; Production and transport of energy; and Production of Protein.

VITAMIN C (2.4 mg/4% DV per serving) –A water-soluble vitamin that is necessary for normal growth and development. Vitamin C is one of many antioxidants. Vitamin C is required for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of your body. It is necessary to form collagen, an important protein used to make skin, scar tissue, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels.

VITAMIN B6 (0.080 mg/4% DV per serving) –A water-soluble vitamin. Water-soluble vitamins dissolve in water. The body cannot store them. That means you need a continuous supply of such vitamins in your diet. Vitamin B6 helps the immune system produce antibodies. Antibodies are needed to fight many diseases. Vitamin B6 helps maintain normal nerve function and form red blood cells. The body uses it to help break down proteins. The more protein you eat, the more vitamin B6 you need.

So, to summarize, Avocados are a fresh, natural, wholesome part of a healthful diet. They’re irresistibly rich in flavor and provide vital nutrients and phytochemicals. Diets rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of some types of cancer and other chronic diseases.

As I mentioned earlier, Avocados provide nearly 20 essential nutrients, including fiber, potassium, Vitamin E, B-vitamins and folic acid. They also act as a “nutrient booster” by enabling the body to absorb more fat-soluble nutrients, such as alpha and beta-carotene and lutein, in foods that are eaten with the fruit. Fresh avocado on sandwiches and toast or substituted as a spread in place of many other popular foods may help reduce dietary intake of calories, fat, saturated fat, sodium and cholesterol.

Healthy eating and avocados go hand in hand. Whether it’s calories, fiber, saturated fat or cholesterol, avocados have more of what you want and less of what you don’t want. Naturally cholesterol-free, avocados are a creamy and nutritious alternative to saturated fat laden spreads, toppings and dips. When you compare the numbers, they tell a deliciously satisfying story:

Fresh avocado on sandwiches and toast or substituted as a spread in place of many other popular foods helps reduce dietary intake of calories, fat, saturated fat, sodium and cholesterol. Creamy spreads and dips made from Avocados add a tasty twist to your meals, not to mention that a 1-ounce serving of fresh avocados contains 0mg of cholesterol, 0mg of sodium and 0.5g saturated fat.

Diet and exercise work in harmony – together they can accomplish more than either could alone. Avocado can fit into your fitness diet as a glove, it offers such a variety of nutrients that help keep metabolism and energy level in high gear to improve strength.

Avocados & Sports Nutrition

Whether you exercise regularly or you’re a serious competitor, you need optimal nutrition to fuel your body during workouts and events. A diet containing carbohydrates, lean proteins and good fats is essential to your performance. As you know now, Avocados provide vital nutrients and phytochemicals and contain most of the 13 vitamins that the body absolutely needs: vitamins A, C, D, E, K and the B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12 and folate). They are naturally sodium-free and cholesterol free and act as a nutrient booster by enabling the body to absorb more fat-soluble nutrients, such as alpha- and beta-carotene and lutein, in foods that are eaten with the fruit. Athletes also need Fats which are important for they provide a concentrated source of energy for the body, making them an essential component in diets for anyone who is physically active.

Four-time Olympic gold medalist in swimming, Lenny Krayzelburg says of California Avocados, “For an athlete, the food you eat is your fuel to perform… For fats, [when I was competing] I loved to eat California Avocados because of their poly and monounsaturated fat content and because they contribute nearly 20 vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, which helped give me energy and feel satisfied at meal time. Not to mention that avocados taste delicious.”

People who eat more generous amounts of fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy diet are likely to have reduced risk of chronic diseases, including stroke, type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer and perhaps even heart disease and high blood pressure.

Satisfactory diets with fresh AVOCADOS

One of the challenges of any weight loss program is the feeling of dissatisfaction that comes from sacrificing your favorite foods. However dieting is not about sacrificing flavor. You can still enjoy delicious, satisfying foods like avocados no matter what low fat, low-calorie diet or weight maintenance program you‘re on. Avocados satisfy your craving for something deliciously creamy, they are a healthier alternative to high saturated fat foods/dips and not only Avocados taste good, they offer a variety of nutritional benefits too.

Bottom line, when you feel satisfied it’s easier to achieve success on a weight loss program. Avocados not only taste great, they offer important nutrients like fiber, folate and magnesium that go the distance to help you feel healthy, strong and satisfied.

Moms and Kids

Nutrition for Moms.

Being sodium and cholesterol-free, containing monounsaturated fats and 23% of DV of Folate, Avocados can be part of a healthful diet for both pregnant and nursing moms

Nutrition for Kids and babies

Early in childhood is when a lifetime of good eating habits and good health can be established . Rich, creamy avocados can be a kid-friendly fruit . They provide great taste, fun texture and they contribute valuable nutrients including:

8% of the recommended Daily Value (DV) for folate
4% DV for fiber and potassium
4% DV for vitamin E and more

and a serving of avocado also contains 81 micrograms of the carotenoid lutein and 19 micrograms of beta-carotene + 3.5 grams of unsaturated fats, which are known to be important for normal growth and development of the central nervous system and brain.

Many mothers opt to make their own baby food when possible. They want to feed their baby the highest quality, most nutritious meals they can. Here are some facts you might want to know in order to make homemade avocado Baby Food.

The avocado’s smooth, creamy consistency makes it one of the first fresh fruits a baby can enjoy. Avocados may be mashed and served in a variety of ways and do not require cooking. Just like a banana, mash with a fork to the consistency appropriate for your baby.

For variety, avocados can be mixed with honey, yummy!! My favorite breakfast and am not a baby anymore 🙂

Important : Avocados and Latex Allergy

Like bananas and chestnuts, avocados contain substances called chitinases that are associated with the latex-fruit allergy syndrome. There is strong evidence of the cross-reaction between latex and these foods. If you have a latex allergy, you may very likely be allergic to these foods as well. Processing the fruit with ethylene gas increases these enzymes; organic produce not treated with gas will have fewer allergy-causing compounds. In addition, cooking the food may deactivate the enzymes.

Select and Store your avocados:

A ripe, ready to eat avocado is slightly soft but should have no dark sunken spots or cracks. If the avocado has a slight neck, rather than being rounded on top, it was probably tree ripened and will have better flavor. A firmer, less mature fruit can be ripened at home and will be less likely to have bruises.

A firm avocado will ripen in a paper bag or in a fruit basket at room temperature within a few days. As the fruit ripens, the skin will turn darker. Avocados should not be refrigerated until they are ripe. Once ripe, they can be kept refrigerated for up to a week. If you are refrigerating a whole avocado, it is best to keep it whole and not slice it in order to avoid browning that occurs when the flesh is exposed to air.

If you have used a portion of a ripe avocado, it is best to store the remainder in the refrigerator. Sprinkling the exposed surface(s) with lemon juice will help to prevent the browning that can occur when the flesh comes in contact with oxygen in the air.

Tips for preparing avocados:

Use a stainless steel knife to cut the avocado in half lengthwise. Gently twist the two halves in opposite direction if you find the flesh clinging to the pit. Remove the pit, either with a spoon or by spearing with the tip of a knife. Place the halves face down, then peel and slice. If the flesh is too soft to be sliced, just slide a spoon along the inside of the skin and scoop it out.

My personal recipe for a quick Guacamole that some of my friends refuse to call Guacamole 🙂

1 avocado ripe
1 small tomatoe ripe
1 lemon juice
a small handful of organic sesame seeds

Mash the Avocado in a bowl, cut the tomato into small cubes and add into the bowl, squeeze the lemon juice and add to the bowl, mix well all the ingredients in the bowl. Sprinkle the sesame seeds on top, mix with the rest. Cut some carots and dip into a delicious light and healthy snack.

Have a wonderful Green day, have some avocados 🙂