By Sue Bedford (MSc Nut Th)
Avocados are amazing!
They help balance hormones, contain beneficial fats including oleic acid and alpha-linolenic (an omega 3 fatty acid), and contain over twenty vitamins, minerals and vital nutrients including vitamins B, C and E. They are also a great source of magnesium and potassium. They also contain many phytonutrients including carotenoids, flavonoids and phytosterols. Avocados are fruits and are also known as ‘alligator pears’ due to the texture of the skin and being shaped like a pear!
Avocados provide us with many health benefits including:
- Aiding blood sugar regulation – contain small amounts of carbohydrates so have little impact on blood sugar. They are thought to improve insulin sensitivity due to the monounsaturated fats which they contain.
- Cardiovascular health benefits – blood fat and cholesterol levels are lowered it seems after avocado consumption and so can help with weight management too. They are a uniquely high source of plant sterols, which is the part of the plant that corresponds to cholesterol in people. Eating plant sterols has been proven to lower cholesterol and increase heart health in several research studies by lowering the blood triglycerides and LDL cholesterol levels, while increasing the HDL levels.
- Lowering blood pressure – due to the potassium levels in avocados.
- Helps to block oestrogen absorption -They contain key plant sterols that can reduce excess oestrogen. This allows increased progesterone to be present in women and testosterone in men. Increased oestrogen levels can lead to weight gain, tiredness, headaches, water retention, breast tenderness and insomnia.
- Avocados can also help to lower homocysteine levels (an amino acid produced when proteins are broken down) due to the B vitamins that they contain. High homocysteine levels have been linked to blood clots and damaged arteries. Avocados also provide oleic acid and omega 3 which help to keep our heart healthy.
- Anti inflammatory properties – Avocados contain an array of nutrients with reduce inflammation such as: phytosterols, omega 3 fatty acids and carotenoid antioxidants.
- Help to balance hormones – Avocados also contain beta-sitosterol, a compound that balances stress hormones such as cortisol produced by the adrenal glands. The monounsaturated fat also provides the building blocks the body needs to make both oestrogen and progesterone.
- Bone strengthening – due to the good amount of vitamin K, folate and copper found in an avocado.
- Why not make your own guacamole using ripe avocados, a squeeze of lemon and some chopped garlic -much nicer than bought!
- Smashed avocado on wholemeal toast with a poached egg and chilli flakes for breakfast
- Add to salads and soups.
- Substitute mayonnaise with avocado in sandwiches
- Avocado pancakes
- Avocado and tomato salsa
- Avocado and chocolate mousse
Why not try making this lovely pomegranate guacamole?
Mash up 3 ripe avocados and combine with a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice, 2 cloves of crushed garlic and a finely chopped chilli (optional). Sprinkle with the seeds of a fresh pomegranate and combine! Enjoy as a dip or in wraps.