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Volume III
January 25, 2013

Weekly Home / Cook'n & Eat'n

Avocados - Super Protector of Health! Who Knew?

By Alice Osborne

Most of us think "Yummy!" when we think of avocados. Then there are informed others who think "Super healthy fat!" But did you know this whole food also has other unique health benefits?

I get a weekly email from the Dr. Mercola website, and this week they talk about avocados. Here I learned that the Hass Avocado Board (HAB) is supporting clinical research to investigate the health effects of avocados, particularly its benefits for cardiovascular disease, weight management, diabetes, and its ability to enhance the body's absorption of nutrients.

One of the first HAB-supported studies showed that eating one-half of a fresh medium Hass avocado with a hamburger (made with 90% lean beef) significantly inhibited the production of the inflammatory compound Interleukin-6 (IL-6), compared to eating a burger without fresh avocado. This is awesome news for all you burger-lovers out there.

Researchers are excited about avocado's ability to benefit vascular function and heart health. They're calling this fruit a real super food. It is rich in mono-unsaturated fat, a fat easily burned for energy. It is also very high in potassium, which helps balance that vitally important potassium-to-sodium ratio. Dr. Mercola says he eats a whole avocado virtually every day (in salad), which increases healthy fat and calorie intake without seriously increasing protein or carbohydrate intake.

A lot of people today are eliminating grain carbs is one of the best ways to support their health and maintain weight, but when you cut down on carbs, you need to increase your intake of healthy fats. Avocados, along with organic raw butter, coconut oil, and organic pastured eggs, just to name a few, are excellent sources of healthy fats.

According to the California Avocado Commission, a medium Hass avocado contains about 22.5 grams of fat, two-thirds of which is mono-unsaturated. They're also very low in fructose, which is yet another boon, and provide close to 20 essential health-boosting nutrients, including:

•  Fiber
•  Potassium (more than twice the amount found in a banana)
•  Vitamin E
•  B-vitamins
•  Folic acid

Avocados are one of the safest conventionally-grown fruits you can buy, and most experts do not believe you need to purchase organic ones. Their thick skin protects the inner fruit from pesticides. Additionally, it has been rated as one of the safest commercial crops in terms of pesticide exposure, so there's no real need to spend extra money on organic avocados. Hurray!

Avocados have a long list of potential health benefits. For example, besides its anti-inflammatory properties, research suggests this powerful fruit also helps protect against liver damage. And due to its beneficial raw fat content, avocado enables your body to more efficiently absorb fat-soluble nutrients (such as alpha- and beta-carotene and lutein) in other foods eaten in conjunction. It has also been found that simply adding avocado to salad increases the body's absorption of carotenoids by three to five times - a big deal since this antioxidant molecule is a major free-radical fighter. Other research shows:

•  Avocados help inhibit and destroy oral cancer cells.
•  Avocados improve lipid profiles.
•  Avocados protect against age-related macular degeneration.

But wait, there's more! Research also uncovered that how you de-skin your fruit can have a bearing on the nutrients you get from it. Because the greatest concentration of beneficial carotenoids are in the dark green fruit closest to the peel, the California Avocado Commission issued guidelines for getting the most out of your avocado by peeling it the right way: nick and peel. Peel the avocado with your hands, as you would a banana:

1. First, cut the avocado length-wise, around the seed
2. Holding each half, twist them in the opposite directions to separate them from the seed
3. Remove the seed
4. Cut each half, lengthwise
5. Next, using your thumb and index finger, simply peel the skin off each piece

While avocado is commonly eaten raw, there are lots of ways to include avocado in your diet. For example:

•  Use as a fat replacement in baking. Simply replace the fat called for (such as oil, butter or shortening) with an equal amount of well-pureed avocado.
•  Use as a first food for babies, in lieu of processed baby food.
•  For hundreds of unique recipes that include avocado - from salads to dessert whips, and everything in between - check out the California Avocado Commission's website.


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