Before we start with the benefits of an avocado..
Do you even know what one is?
Is it a fruit or a vegetable?
An Avocado Is A Fruit, And More Specifically A Berry….
You might be inclined to call it a vegetable, thanks to its green hue and savory taste, but the avocado is technically a fruit, and even more specifically, a single-seeded berry.
A fruit is “the matured ovary of a flower,” according to University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources.
Fruits consist of a tough outer layer (the skin or rind), a middle layer we typically think of as the flesh of the fruit and a casing around a seed (or seeds). Avocado is further classified as a fleshy as opposed to a dry fruit, and a berry rather than a drupe, which has tough pits or stones, like peaches.
An Avocado Has More Potassium Than A Banana
A single avocado has 975 milligrams of potassium, while a banana, well-known for being loaded with potassium, delivers just half that, with 487 milligrams per large fruit.
Lets begin with our top 10 health benefits of avocado…
Including avocado with your meals may help you feel fuller for longer and reduce the urge for overweight adults to eat more, according to new research just released on the consumption of avocados.
Researchers have determined whether adding fresh avocado to a midday meal had any effect on insulin response, blood sugar levels, feelings of fullness and food intake for the rest of the day.
Their initial findings determined that there was indeed a basis for further research into the benefits of adding avocado to a meal or replacing some parts of the meal with fresh avocado.
The Hass Avocado Board (HAB) is currently financially supporting several clinical trials to discover if there is a relationship between increased consumption of avocados and positive effects on diabetes, weight management and risk factors of heart disease.
In the meantime, here are 10 health benefits of avocados that we already know:
1. Benefits in pregnancy.
Avocados are a natural source of folate which contains folic acid and is important for the development of a healthy fetus. Synthetic versions of folic acid are recommended for all women who are planning to get pregnant; eating avocados is a simpler and tastier option!
2. Avocados are brimming with ‘good’ fats.
You may have heard that you should avoid avocados due to their high fat content. This is not quite the case. While they are very high in fat (and calories) these are monounsaturated fats or ‘good fats’. They assist good heart health and help to lower blood pressure. The monounsaturated fats found in avocados can also help to reverse insulin resistance which can lead to the development of type 2 diabetes.
3. Fantastic source of Vitamin E.
Avocados are the fruit with the highest level of Vitamin E (yes avocados are a fruit!) Vitamin E is an essential vitamin and helps to maintain overall health. Vitamin E also has positive effects on heart disease, stroke, cancer prevention, and development of cataracts and is widely claimed to have anti-aging properties.
4. Source of dietary fiber.
Avocados contain both soluble and insoluble fiber meaning they help to reduce cholesterol levels by preventing re-absorption, help to maintain bowel function and can assist the body to avoid blood sugar spikes after meals.
5. You know exactly what you’re getting when you buy an avocado.
At the time of writing there are no genetically modified avocado crops. Avocados have such a thick skin that the inner fruit is protected from pesticides making the cost of organic avocados something you can easily bypass.
6. Avocados are a ‘brain food’.
Dr. Daniel G. Amen considers them one of the best brain-healthy foods that you can consume to help reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Omega 3 fatty acids as well as Vitamin E are naturally occurring in avocados and have been clinically proven to stop Alzheimer’s disease from progressing and possibly even reversing the very early stages.
7. Better nutrient absorption.
8. May aid in stroke prevention.
The high folate levels that are beneficial to pregnant women may also play a part in reducing the incidence of stroke. Those who eat diets that contain a lot of folate have been shown to suffer stroke far less than those who eat less folate in their everyday diet.
9. Reduction of cholesterol.
One study has shown a 17% decrease in cholesterol levels for participants who ate increased amounts of avocado for just one week. Researchers believe this is due to beta-sitosterol which has previously been found to assist in lowering cholesterol levels.
10. Protection for your eyes.
Eating avocados can increase your levels of Lutein which protects against macular degeneration and the formation of cataracts. Further research is needed to determine exactly what it is that may assist in eye protection.
Adding an avocado into your daily diet and reaping the above benefits is so easy. Avocado is great added to salads, made into guacamole and even eaten alone with ground pepper and a few drops of olive oil. It can also easily be substituted for fats in cooking and baking. Take out the oil or butter and replace it with the same amount of avocado. You’ll add interesting flavors to your cooking and will be helping your overall health.
Avocados are extremely tasty and are chock full of nutritional goodness.
Try one today!
Here are 3 great recipes to use avocados:
AVOCADO MANGO CHICKEN SALAD
Yield: 2 SERVINGS
Prep time: 15 MINUTES
- 1 cup cooked chicken, cut into bite-sized cubes
- 1 avocado, diced
- 3/4 cup diced mango (fresh or frozen will work)
- 3 tbs. diced red onion
- 2/3 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt (can adjust depending on how creamy you want it to be)
- 1/2 lime, juiced
- 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
- salt to taste
- Mix together all of the ingredients in a bowl.
- Serve over greens, in a wrap, or on some bread or a croissant.
CHICKEN & AVOCADO ENCHILADAS
PREP: 20 MINS COOK: 20 MINS TOTAL: 40 MINS
Delicious chicken enchiladas with an irresistible avocado cream sauce!
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 medium white or yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 poblano peppers, stemmed and thinly sliced
- 1 jalapeno pepper, finely diced (remove seeds for less heat)
- 8-10 (6-inch) flour tortillas
- 4 cups shredded cooked chicken
- 2-3 cups Monterrey Jack cheese
- optional garnish: fresh cilantro, sour cream, and/or shredded cheese
AVOCADO CREAM SAUCE INGREDIENTS:
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- Two Tbsp. flour
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 3/4 cup sour cream
- 1/2 tsp. cumin
- Half tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 2 California avocados, peeled and pitted
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- juice of one lime
TO MAKE THE ENCHILADAS:
Prepare the “Avocado Cream Sauce” as listed below. Preheat the oven to 375? F. Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.
In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, poblano and jalapeno, and saute for 5-6 minutes until the onions are cooked and translucent. Remove from heat.
To assemble the enchiladas, place a tortilla on a flat surface. Spread a tablespoon or two of the avocado sauce down the middle of the tortilla. Then layer on some of the vegetable mixture, shredded chicken and cheese. Carefully roll the tortilla and place it seam side down in the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining tortillas. Drizzle the top with about half of the remaining avocado cream sauce, then cover the dish with foil and bake for about 20 minutes, or until tortillas are heated through and begin to harden.
Remove from the oven, then serve individual enchiladas drizzled with the remainder of the avocado cream sauce. You can also garnish with additional cilantro, cheese, and/or sour cream.
TO MAKE AVOCADO CREAM SAUCE:
Melt the butter in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the flour, whisking until golden and bubbly, about 2-3 minutes. Slowly whisk the broth into the flour mixture. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the sour cream, cumin, salt, garlic powder and pepper, whisking if necessary to remove any lumps.
Remove from heat and transfer mixture to a blender or food processor. Add avocados, cilantro and lime juice, and pulse until smooth and well-blended. (Be very careful blending hot liquids — the heat will expand! So be sure to remove the lid occasionally so that the heat can escape.) Season with additional salt or pepper if needed.
AVOCADO BROWNIES WITH AVOCADO FROSTING
YIELD: MAKES 16 BROWNIES
PREP TIME: 20 MINUTES
COOK TIME: 30 MINUTES
TOTAL TIME: 1.5 HOURS (INCLUDES BROWNIE COOLING TIME)
2 large ripe avocados, mashed as well as you can (about 1 1/8 cups)
8 ounces high-quality dark chocolate, melted
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons avocado oil
4 ounces high-quality dark chocolate, chopped
1 large ripe avocado
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Liberally spray a 9-inch square pan with non-stick spray.
In a large bowl, whisk mashed avocado and melt chocolate. Whisk in sugar until combined, then add in eggs and vanilla extract, mixing well. Add in flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt, mixing with a large spoon until JUST combined – do not over mix. Stir in avocado oil until it’s well distributed and batter is somewhat smooth.
Fold in chopped chocolate, then spread batter in pan. Bake for 28-32 minutes, or until middle is set. Remove and let cool completely, then frost and top with grated chocolate if desired.
Note: I placed these in the fridge (covered throughly with plastic wrap) to store and when eaten immediately from the fridge, they can be even denser and slightly dry, so I recommend letting them come to room temp or even placing them in the microwave (we did this!).
Add avocado to the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until mashed and creamy. With the mixer on low speed, add in vanilla then slowly add in powdered sugar, scraping down the sides if needed, until a smooth frosting forms. Frost brownies once cooled.