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Feature Friday : Avocado

"An Avo a day, keeps the Doctor away...!"

I love to eat, everyone knows that. What do I love most? Avocado.

Not only do they taste insanely good, but they are incredibly versatile and you may be surprised to learn about how many avocado benefits there are. These little green gems can do so much to help keep you well from head to toe, they’re simply too good to pass up.

Avocados are actually a fruit and truly are an amazing food, but years of being scared away from high fat foods have led many people to overlook avocado. However the benefits of avocado include critical, healthy fats, various antioxidants and about 20 vitamins and minerals. This green taste sensation has so many benefits for our bodies which include better heart and digestive health; healthy skin, hair and eyes; cancer prevention and weight loss, among others.

Despite their growing popularity over the past 10 years or so, we are only recently branching out from simply adding them to salads or sandwiches. In most countries avo's are actually used regularly in deserts. Around the world, they are used in a similar way as coconuts and commonly paired with raw cocoa, boosting the health benefits even more! Their mild flavour, and creamy texture makes avocado a fab ingredient in some of MPK's favourite treats like chocolate mousse, brownies and cheesecake!

So are you already an avo-addict, or are you still feeling unsure?? I hope I can show you that avocados make a filling addition to any meal or snack, whilst providing nutritious heart-healthy fats, about half your day's fibre, folate, vitamin A, potassium and more.

Here comes the science:

One medium sized Avo has around 215 calories but do not let that put you off - too many times do I hear people counting calories instead of nutrients! Stop that now! Avo's healthy fat, fibre and phytochemical content makes it a super nutrient dense food, that despite its high calorie content should help you loose weight!

When it comes to nutrients, the total amount of them in each food is not the only thing that matters. It is just as important how our body absorbs them, ie moves them from the digestive tract into the body where they can be used. Some nutrients are "fat soluable" meaning that they need to be combinded with fat in order for our bodies to use them. This inlcludes vitamins A, D, E and K, and other antioxidents like carotenoids. A recent study showed that addition avo or avo oil to either a salad or salsa can increase this absoption by up to 15 times!

So by adding the healthy fat to your diet, you are able make full use of the beneficial plant nutrients you are eating.

The official avocado serving is around 1/5 of a fruit - but we all know everyone eats half an avocado at the very least! That nutritious green taste sensation will provide you with:

  • 113 calories

  • 4.6 g dietary fiber

  • 10 grams fat

  • 6 grams carbohydrates

  • only 0.2 gram total sugar

  • 14 milligrams vitamin K (19 percent RDA)

  • 60 milligrams folate (15 percent RDA)

  • 6 milligrams vitamin C (12 percent RDA)

  • 343 milligrams potassium (10 percent RDA)

  • 2 milligrams pantothenic acid (10 percent RDA)

  • 0.4 milligram vitamin B6 (9 percent RDA)

  • 1.3 milligrams vitamin E (7 percent RDA)

  • 19.5 milligrams magnesium (6 percent RDA)

Let us break this down:

Monounsaturated fats — Shown to reverse insulin resistance and regulate blood sugar levels, avocados and avocado oil are some of the richest sources of monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) in the world! Unlike saturated, or “bad,” fats, MUFAs are actually good for you and help the heart and brain. MUFAs are the main dietary form of fat in the Mediterranean diet, which for decades has been linked to protection against heart disease, cancer, cognitive decline and many other disorders.

Carotenoids — Avocados contain oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that can improve memory and brain activity. Oleic acid in turn helps the body with carotenoid absorption. Carotenoids are chemical compounds that give certain fruits and vegetables their bright yellow, orange or red color. Beta-carotene is one of the most common carotenoids. Carotenoid benefits include lowering inflammation, promoting healthy growth and development, and boosting immunity, among others.

Fat-soluble vitamins A, E and K — Our bodies not only require these vitamins to function properly, but they also work together in an integrated way with magnesium and zinc to impact metabolic factors (such as carbon dioxide and thyroid hormone).

Water-soluble vitamins B and C — B-complex vitamins and vitamin C are not stored in your body. This means that you need to replenish them every day. Avocados are one of the better vitamin C foods and sources of B vitamins.

Important trace minerals (like magnesium, potassium, iron and copper) — One interesting fact many people are unaware of is that you would need to eat two bananas to meet the potassium content in just one whole avocado, which makes avocados an excellent source to prevent low potassium.

Loads of fiber – Avocados contain more soluble fiber than most foods and help stabilize blood sugar levels, facilitate proper bowel regularity and maintain proper weight control.

Protein — Avocados are on the list of top protein foods. Having the highest protein and lowest sugar content of any fruit, avocados offer a unique balance to building lean muscle mass and burning fat.

Folate — Because of its high supply of the crucial nutrient folate, avocado benefits include preventing certain birth defects like spinal bifida and neural tube defects. Research has even suggested that folate-rich foodscan help prevent strokes!

Potassium - Potassium is a nutrient that most people aren't getting enough of. Avocados are actually very high in potassium, with a 100 gram serving containing 14% of the RDA, compared to 10% in bananas, which are a typical high potassium food Several studies show that having a high potassium intake is linked to reduced blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure. There has also been a study into the link between potassium deficiency and depression, so avo is great natural mood enhancer.

Phytonutrients (polyphenols and flavonoids) — Anti-inflammatory compounds like phytonutrients are key to reducing the risk of inflammatory and degenerative disorders that can affect every part of the body — including joints, the heart, brain, internal organ systems, skin and connective tissue.

But avo's are not just good for your insides - they make you glow! Rich in fat-soluble vitamins and monounsaturated fats, avocado benefits also include glowing skin, bright eyes and shiny hair. Avocado can also be used to make homemade hair masks to replenish, moisture and add shine.

As you can see, avocado health benefits are something everyone should take advantage of. My favourite avocado meal is on toast (usually Oat or Rye Bread) with poached eggs and roasted tomatoes, and liberally sprinkled with chilli flakes, black pepper, olive oil and ACV. YASSSS..... however if you are wanting to get more creative how about trying:

All day Glow Green Smoothie from Oh She Glows

Cacao, Banana and Avo Smoothie from Deliciously Ella

Chocolate Peanut Avo Pudding from Minimalist Baker

Creamy Avo Zoodles from Naturally Sassy

Avo Cheesecake from Nutrition Stripped - THIS IS AMAZING!!

Avo Margaritta from Nutrition Stripped

I would love to hear how you love Avos so do drop me an email or follow me on insta and comment on all my avo memes!

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