Addicted to Avocados
I think I’m addicted to avocados – really. I feel like I have to have them with every meal (except breakfast…though who knows, I may start adding them to my smoothies soon enough since they add such a creamy texture!) In fact, I don’t feel as if my lunch or dinner is “complete” without a few slices of avocado thrown in – regardless of whether I’m having mexican-inspired tacos or an asian-inspired tempeh stir fry. Is that weird? I think avocados have replaced my need to have ketchup with every meal (barring breakfast!)… so I guess that’s a healthier change (though ketchup does have lycopene so it’s not all that bad ;)..Some brands just have too much sugar…
Anyway, since I’ve been eating them like they’re going out of style, I thought I’d provide a little bit of info about them. Apparently, there are close to 500 varieties of avocados and 7 of these are grown in California, with Hass avocados making up 95% of this crop as explained on this website. In most grocery stores, we usually only see the Hass avocado and a larger green one – the Florida avocado.
The main differences between the two are that Hass avocados have slightly more fat and are creamier than the Florida variety (Hass tend to be better in guacamole, and Florida varieties work well in summer salads). Nutritionally though, both types of avocados are excellent; they both provide an array of vitamins including B5, B6, C, K and folate, and are also a great source of potassium and fiber. They also contain phytosterols which provide anti-inflammatory benefits, and contain generous amounts of oleic acid, which is a monounsaturated fatty acid that helps promote cardiovascular health, and enhances the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E & K) and carotenoids which are a family of antioxidants (including lutein, beta-carotene and zeaxanthin). This website provides a more detailed description of these benefits.
The ability to enhance the absorption of key vitamins and carotenoids is a particularly noteworthy fact about avocados because adding them to dishes like salads, soups and dips greatly increases the amount of fat-soluble vitamins and antioxidants that you end up absorbing! So next time you eat a large, leafy green salad, or are diving into a bowl of salsa with some chips, consider adding some guacamole or avocado slices too….the fats in the avocado will help you absorb much more of the beta-carotene and lycopene in those greens and the tomato!
Other ideas for including avocado in your meals are:
– As a replacement for butter on toast
– As a replacement for cheese in salads, soups and sandwiches
– In smoothies (adds creaminess and healthy fats)
– As a sandwich component (try a tomato, avocado and hummus sandwich with freshly ground black pepper, some salt, spinach and balsamic vinegar!)
– Chopped up or sliced in salads.
And of course in guacamole! As with all things though, moderation is key. Avocados are still high in calories (1 whole avocado can have around 300 calories; 1/5th of an avocado which is a reasonable serving size has about 50 – 60 calories), so as with any item, you don’t want to eat it in excess and at the expense of other foods. But adding some of this green goodness to your meals is definitely a boost to your health and nutrition…
So you can totally justify buying them even when they get uber-expensive at the store! 🙂