Benefits of Avocados
Consider adding avocado to salads and not only on account of their deliciousness! Recent research has shown that absorption of two key carotenoid antioxidants (lycopene and beta carotene) increases significantly when fresh avocado (or avocado oil) is added to a free salad. One cup of fresh avocado (150 grams), added to a salad of romaine lettuce, spinach and carrots, increased absorption of carotenoids from this salad between 200-400%. This research result makes perfect sense to us because carotenoids are fat soluble and would be provided with the fat they need for absorption from the addition of avocado. Avocado oil added to a salad accomplished this same result.
Interestingly, both avocado oil and fresh avocado added to salsa increased carotenoid absorption from the salsa as well. That’s even more reason for you to try our 15 Minute Halibut with Avocado Salsa, a great tasting recipe that can help optimize your carotenoid health benefits.
The method you use to peel an avocado can make a difference to your health. Research has shown that the greatest concentration of carotenoids in avocado occurs in the dark green flesh that lies just beneath the skin. You don’t want to slice into that dark green portion any more than necessary when you are peeling an avocado. For this reason, the best method is what the California Avocado Commission has called the “nick and peel” method. In this method, you actually end up peeling the avocado with your hands in the same way that you would peel a banana. The first step in the nick and peel method is to cut into the avocado lengthwise, producing two long avocado halves that are still connected in the middle by the seed. Next, you take hold of both halves and twist them in opposite directions until they naturally separate. At this point, remove the seed and cut each of the halves lengthwise to produce long quartered sections of the avocado. You can use your thumb and index finger to grip the edge of the skin on each quarter and peel it off, just as you would do with a banana skin. The final result is a peeled avocado that contains most of that dark green outermost flesh so rich in carotenoid antioxidants.
We tend to think of carotenoids as being most concentrated in bright orange or red vegetables like carrots or tomatoes. While these vegetables are fantastic sources of carotenoids, avocado, despite its dark green skin and largely greenish inner pulp, is now known to contain a spectacular array of carotenoids. Researchers believe that avocado’s amazing carotenoid diversity is a key factor in the anti inflammatory properties of this vegetable. The list of carotenoids found in avocado include well known carotenoids like beta carotene, alpha carotene and lutein, but also many lesser known carotenoids including neochrome, neoxanthin, chrysanthemaxanthin, beta cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin, and violaxanthin.
Avocado has sometimes received a “bad rap” as a vegetable too high in fat. While it is true that avocado is a high fat food (about 85% of its calories come from fat), the fat contained in avocado is unusual and provides research based health benefits. The unusual nature of avocado fat is threefold; firstly, the phytosterols that account for a major portion of avocado fats. These phytosterols include beta sitosterol, campesterol, and stigmasterol and they are key supporters of our inflammatory system that help keep inflammation under control. The anti inflammatory benefits of these avocado fats are particularly well documented with problems involving arthritis. Second are avocado’s polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols (PFAs). PFAs are widely present in ocean plants but fairly unique among land plants making the avocado tree (and its fruit) unusual in this regard. Like the avocado’s phytosterols, its PFAs also provide us with anti inflammatory benefits. Third is the unusually high amount of a fatty acid called oleic acid in avocado.
Over half of the total fat in avocado is provided in the form of oleic acid, a situation very similar to the fat composition of olives and olive oil. Oleic acid helps our digestive tract form transport molecules for fat that can increase our absorption of fat soluble nutrients like carotenoids. As a monounsaturated fatty acid, it has also been shown to help lower our risk of heart disease. So don’t be fooled by avocado’s bad rap as a high fat food; like other high fat plant foods (for example, walnuts and flaxseeds), avocado can provide us with unique health benefits precisely because of its unusual fat composition. When you prepare an avocado, we highly recommend that you use the “nick and peel” method described above. This will allow you to enjoy the greatest concentration of its health promoting carotenoids.
Avocados provide numerous health benefits including: Anti inflammatory benefits, enhanced absorption of carotenoid antioxidants, heart health support, blood sugar regulation and anti-cancer benefits.
Fun facts about avocados!
The avocado is colloquially known as the Alligator Pear, the avocado mirrors its shape and the leather like appearance of its skin.
The word avocado is derived from the Aztec word ”ahuacatl”.
Avocados are the fruit from Persea americana, a tall evergreen tree that can grow up to 65 feet in height.
They vary in weight from 8 ounces to 3 pounds depending upon the variety.
There are dozens of varieties of avocados. The rich and creamy Haas variety is the most popular type of avocado in the United States, and 95% of all avocados grown in the United States are produced in California, original home of the Haas variety. They are generally available throughout the year. During the fall and winter months you can find Fuerto, Zutano and Bacon varieties.
While avocados are technically fruits, we have categorized them here as vegetables since this is how they are usually considered from a culinary perspective.
Tasty avocado food!
Chilled Avocado Soup with Tomato Salsa
- 2 large ripe avocados
- 1 small onion, peeled and roughly chopped 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 3 3?4 cups vegetable mineral broth
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- dulse or kelp
For the salsa:
- 1/2 purple onion, finely chopped
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 1 jalapeño pepper, deseeded and finely sliced 2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- dulse or kelp
- Cut avocados into chunks and puree with onion, garlic, lemon juice and a third of the vegetable mineral broth.
- Add the rest of the vegetable mineral broth and blend again till very smooth.
- Add the vinegar and season to taste.
- Pour into a bowl and cover.
- In a separate bowl combine all the salsa ingredients.
Garnish the soup with the salsa and serve