Today, I would like to talk a little bit about the avocado. The avocado is an amazing food that has gotten a bit of a bad rap. Somewhere along the line, people heard that there was a lot of fat in avocados, and decided they were therefore better left alone.
A brief word on the whole non-fat craze: In In Defense of Food, Michael Pollan talks about how our nation became obsessed with removing fat from our foods, thinking it would make us all skinner. It didn’t work, as you’re probably aware. Why? Because of two major mistakes: one, the food industry compensated for the resulting loss of taste by adding more sugar and artificial sweeteners, culprits behind weight gain and a host of other health problems. Two, the government told us that all fats are bad for us. Not true. We need some essential fats in our diet. In fact, you can eat a diet high in certain fats and remain very lean. The fats you want to look for are unsaturated fats, which include polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fat (the type of fat found in avocados).
Monounsaturated fats have been linked to a decreased risk of breast cancer, lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, lower risk of heart disease and stroke, weight loss, reduced pain and joint stiffness, and reduced visceral fat, which is the dangerous fat you store around your belly. Too much belly fat can increase your risk of the above health conditions as well as diabetes, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, and other forms of cancer.
So, back to the health benefits of avocados. In addition to a good source of monounsaturated fat, avocados are high in dietary fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin C, potassium, folate, and magnesium. Magnesium is an important mineral that is lacking in most people. Magnesium deficiencies have been linked to anxiety, migraines, fatigue, insomnia, osteoporosis, tooth decay, muscle aches, and a bunch of other health problems.
So you don’t need to avoid avocados. And you don’t need to buy “slimcados,” which are a more watery Florida version with less fat and (from what I hear) less tatste. I eat avocados just about every day. I use them in smoothies and pureed vegetable soups to make them creamy (yes, really). I use them in salads. For a great quick lunch or side item, you can mix up some avocado and tomato with garlic and red onion. Yum! I use avocado to top off an omelet or an organic (bun-free) turkey burger. If you’re looking to cut down on dairy, avocado can be a great substitute for cheese (yes, really). And for a completely guilt-free dessert, try my favorite avocado chocolate mousse recipe. Just try it. Throw a few fresh berries on top and it is divine. You would never guess that avocado is the main ingredient. Trust me!
Do you have any favorite uses for avocados?
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