Monday, November 16, 2009

The Amazing Avocado

How could this unusual fruit with the green, bumpy flesh and buttery-textured interior be considered "amazing"? Here's how:

  • Avocados contain a specific monounsaturated fat called oleic acid. This fat has been shown in research to have some protective effects against breast cancer.
  • Avocados contain various antioxidants such as carotenoids and vitamin E. In laboratory studies an avocado extract was shown to inhibit prostate cancer cell growth. The effect was not the same when the components were separated out and used individually.
  • Heart health is a benefit of eating avocados since oleic acid has also been shown in some research to help lower total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol while raising HDL (good) cholesterol.
  • Avocados are excellent sources of potassium which can help lower blood pressure, and folate which has been shown to be protective in heart health.
  • Avocados are also rich in vitamin K, copper, and vitamin B6.
  • At the table, avocados make an excellent addition to salads, dips, and as a spread in place of other condiments on a sandwich. Avocados can also be enjoyed most simply by cutting in half, removing the large pit, and eating with a spoon right out of the flesh.

As simple as the the avocado may appear from the outside, it packs a beneficial punch into a healthful diet. But be patient if it is hard when purchased, and let ripen on the counter for a couple of days until soft. The quality of the flavor will be worth the wait.

- Rebecca Rajcich, dietetic intern and Debra Boutin, MS, RD, chair and dietetic internship director in the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Science at Bastyr University


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