Avocado, where have you been all my life? For years I avoided you especially during my fat-free Nabisco Snackwells® phase. My taste buds beckoned your rich, creamy guacamole goodness. So glad I decided to study nutrition, because now I can finally welcome you with open, guilt-free arms.
Avocado often gets a bad rap for being – well – fat. A medium-sized avocado contains 30 grams of fat, the same amount that’s in a fast-food quarter-pound burger. Don’t let that fact deceive you because Mother Nature did not create all fat equal. The fat contained in an avocado is mostly monounsaturated – the “good fat” which lowers cholesterol levels. According to a medical review article published in the American Journal of Medicine December 1999 issue, the avocado is rich in beta-sitosterol – a natural substance that significantly lowered blood cholesterol levels in 16 human research studies. In addition, the avocado is a wonderful source of omega-3 fatty acids in the form of alpha-linolenic acid. One cup of sliced avocado contains approximately 160 milligrams of alpha-linelenic acid (ALA).
If you are worried about gaining weight when eating high-fat avocado, here is a study that shows this fruit – yes, it is a fruit – can be eaten as part of a healthy diet for weight loss or weight maintenance. A 2005 research study examined 61 individuals who were divided into two groups. Both groups were limited to calorie and fat-restricted diets and ate the same amount of calories and fat. The individuals in the experimental group consumed 30 of their daily allotted fat grams by eating 200 grams of avocado each day. When reviewing data from the six-week study, researchers discovered that both groups lost weight. This proved the high fat content of the avocado, when substituted for other saturated fats, did not affect the experimental group’s ability to lose weight. (1)
Another fact that will have you returning for more is that the avocado helps increase the absorption of micronutrients, such as carotenoids. A 2005 medical study showed that one cup of fresh avocado, about 150 grams, added to a mixed salad of romaine lettuce, spinach and carrots significantly increased the body’s ability to absorb the salad’s carotenoids between 200 to 400%. (2) The oleic acid contained in the avocado is responsible for supersizing the body’s nutritional ability. Oleic acid helps the digestive tract form transport molecules for fat, which can increase the body’s absorption of fat-soluble nutrients, such as carotenoids. In addition, more than 50 percent of the total fat in an avocado is provided in the form of oleic acid — a composition similar to the fat makeup of olives and olive oil.
(1) “Nutrition;” Substitution of high monounsaturated fatty acid avocado for mixed dietary fats during an energy-restricted diet: effects on weight loss, serum lipids, fibrinogen, and vascular function; Pieterse, et al; 2005
So now, I have at least a weekly rendezvous with my dear avocado dressed up as guacamole. My simple recipe is below. I serve this with Food Should Taste Good Lime Chips and raw veggies as a snack, use as a garnish for Mexican dishes and even use this guacamole as a salad dressing.
I’LL NEVER LET YOU GO GUACAMOLE
- 2 ripe Hass avocados peeled and mashed (The greatest concentration of an avocado’s carotenoids 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.)
- juice of 1/2 lemon (or more to taste)
- 1 Tablespoon of chopped green onion
- 1 clove garlic minced or pressed
- 2 Tablespoons of chopped cilantro (or more to taste)
- Sea salt to taste about 1/2 tsp
Mix well and enjoy! ¡Buen apetito!