Avocados are a creamy, buttery fruit grown in warm climates and often enjoyed in Mexican and South American cuisine.
Also known as an alligator pear or butter fruit, the versatile avocado is the only fruit that provides a substantial amount of monounsaturated fat (the healthy kind). Avocados are a naturally nutrient-dense food and contain nearly 20 vitamins and minerals.
Possible health benefits of avocados
Great for vision: Avocados contain lutein and zeaxanthin, two phytochemicals that are essential to eye health. These two carotenoids act as antioxidants in the eye and can minimize the damage and reduce the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration.
Osteoporosis prevention: Vitamin K is often overshadowed by calcium and vitamin D when thinking of nutrients important for maintaining healthy bones, however, eating a diet with adequate vitamin K may be just as important. Vitamin K can improve bone health by increasing calcium absorption and reducing urinary excretion of calcium.3
Low intakes of vitamin K have been associated with a higher risk of bone fracture. One-half of an avocado provides approximately 25% of the daily-recommended intake for vitamin K.
Cancer fighter: Low levels of folate have been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer in women. Adequate intake of dietary folate (from food, not necessarily supplements) has also shown promise in protecting against colon, stomach, pancreatic and cervical cancers.
Although the mechanism of protection is currently unknown, researchers believe that folate’s protective effects have something to do with its role in DNA and RNA production and the prevention of unwanted mutations. One-half of an avocado provides approximately 20% of the daily-recommended intake for folate.
Lowered risk of depression: Another benefit of foods with high levels of folate is a lowered risk of depression. Folate helps to prevent an excess of homocysteine forming in the body, which can block blood and other nutrients from reaching the brain. Excess homocysteine can interfere with the production of the feel-good hormones serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which regulate not only mood, but sleep and appetite as well.
Improved digestion: Despite its creamy texture, an avocado is actually high in fiber, with approximately 6-7 grams per half fruit. Eating foods with natural fiber can prevent constipation, maintain a healthy digestive tract and lower the risk of colon cancer.
Natural detoxification: Adequate fiber promotes regularity, which is crucial for the daily excretion of toxins through the bile and stool. Recent studies have shown that dietary fiber may also play a role in regulating the immune system and inflammation.
Protection from chronic disease: According to the Department of Internal Medicine and Nutritional Sciences Program of the University of Kentucky, high fiber intakes are associated with significantly lower risks of developing coronary heart disease, stroke,hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and certain gastrointestinal diseases. Increased fiber intake has also been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, improve insulin sensitivity, and enhance weight loss for obese individuals.
Health recipe of avocados
Salmon & avocado rice
Ingredients/ prep 15mins, cooking 20mins
300g skinless salmon fillets
2 small, ripe avocados, sliced
juice 1 lemon
3 tsp light soy sauce
3tsp toasted sesame seeds
1 spring onions, thinly sliced
1 red chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced
1.Rinse the rice in a sieve until the water runs clear. Drain and put in a large pan with 350ml water. Bring to the boil, turn the heat to low, cover, then cook for 10-12 mins until the rice is almost cooked. Remove from the heat, then leave, covered, for another 10 mins.
2.Thinly slice the salmon and arrange on a platter with the sliced avocado. Drizzle over the lemon juice and soy, making sure everything is evenly covered. Leave in the fridge to marinate for 10 mins.
3.Carefully tip the juices from the salmon platter into the rice, then stir in with a little salt. Divide the rice between 3 bowls. Scatter the sesame seeds, spring onions, chilli and coriander over the salmon and avocado, then serve with the rice.
Eggs baked in avocado
Ingredients/ prep 10mins, cooking 25mins
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1.Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 450°F.
2.Cut each avocado in half and remove the pit. Using a spoon, scrape out the center of each halved avocado so that it is large enough to accommodate an egg. Squeeze lime juice over the avocados and season, then place on baking sheet. Break an egg into the center of each avocado.
3.Bake in the oven until whites are set and yolk is runny, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven and garnish with cilantro, scallions, and chilies and serve with tortillas.