Health Benefits of Avocados
Avocados contain nearly 20 vitamins and minerals including potassium, vitamin E, vitamin C, B vitamins, and folic acid. They are rich sources of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and dietary fiber. The high fat content of avocados promotes satiety, helps regulate blood sugar, aids in hormone regulation, and in the absorption of essential fat-soluble vitamins.
In addition to monounsaturated fat, avocados also contain phytosterols, plant sterols that compete with cholesterol for absorption, therefore helping reduce blood cholesterol levels. Some research also suggests that avocados may reduce markers of inflammation associated with heart disease.
Other phytonutrient compounds in avocado include glutathione, which acts as an antioxidant potentially for cancer protection, and lutein, which promotes healthy vision.
It’s well known that carotenoids, a type of antioxidant, are better absorbed when consumed with some fat. This was recently confirmed by researchers from Ohio State University, who fed 12 people beta-carotene-rich tomato sauce and then carrots, both with or without avocados, which are high in fat.
More beta carotene was absorbed from both the sauce and carrots when people also ate about 5 ounces of avocado. Also avocado consumption resulted in greatly increased conversion of beta carotene into vitamin A in the body; this is an important way we get the vitamin A we need.
Other fat-containing foods, such as oil-based salad dressing or cheese, would have similar effects.
Ways to Cook with Avocados
Avocados offer a buttery richness that pairs well with many foods. They can be used in appetizers, main dishes, and desserts.
Try using avocado instead of butter to make baked goods, such as banana bread, for a cholesterol-free, heart-healthy alternative to saturated fat (keep your eye out for recipes on this blog). Mayonnaise can also be substituted with avocado to cut the fat in half, but keep all the creamy goodness of classic egg salad or chicken salad.
Avocados can also double as serving vessels. Switch up your breakfast routine by baking an egg into an avocado and enjoying the two on a slice of toast. Or, for a fast, no-fuss meal,pile scrambled eggs, on a hearty slice of avocado spread on toast.