Mitzi Dulan – America's Nutrition Expert
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Foodie Friday: Avocados
by Mitzi Dulan, RD, America’s Nutrition Expert®
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May
28
2010

HABAvoHeroBasketI think Hass avocados are awesome and in today’s “Foodie Friday” I’ll tell you why! Hass avocados could be even more beneficial to our health than we previously knew. According to a preliminary study conducted by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES 2001-2006, 14,484 adults ages 19 and older) and the Hass Avocado Board (HAB), people who consume avocados not only have improved nutrient intake levels but also more “positive health parameters”! One-fifth of a medium Hass avocado has only 50 calories. Data from the study showed that avocado consumers have a lower BMI, smaller waist circumference (average of 4 cm less), and weigh an average of seven pounds less than those who don’t consume avocados. Hass avocados contribute nearly 20 vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, including 4% of the recommended Daily Value (DI) for vitamin E, 4% vitamin C, 8% folate, 4% fiber, 2% iron, 4% potassium, with 81 micrograms of lutein and 19 micrograms of beta carotene.

More fun facts from the new research:

  • Avocado consumers had significantly higher intakes of important nutrients than non-consumers, including 40% more dietary fiber, 62% more vitamin K, 33% more vitamin E, 16% more potassium and 15% more magnesium
  • Avocado consumers had significantly higher intakes of total fat, monounsaturated fat, and polyunsaturated fat than non-consumers, without significant differences in calorie intake
  • Avocado consumers weighed an average of seven pounds less than non-consumers
  • Avocado consumers had lower BMI values that were closer to the “normal” range (BMI values of 18.5-24.9)  than non-consumers
  • Avocado consumers had waist circumference measures that were an average of four centimeters smaller than non-consumers
  • Avocado consumers had higher HDL (known as “good” cholesterol, according to the American Heart Association) levels than non-consumers
  • Avocado consumers had a 42% lower odds ratio for metabolic syndrome than non-consumers

In addition, Hass avocados are cholesterol- and sodium-free, and contribute polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats (the good fats!) to our diet. Did you know that avocados contribute more total fat, monounsaturated fat, and polyunsaturated fat without a difference in caloric intake when compared to people who don’t consume avocado? The high fat content of avocados give a quicker feeling of fullness, so it helps in reducing overeating. The American Heart Association recommends that we eat a diet that is low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Avocados, with their monosaturated and polysaturated fat content, can be substituted for foods rich in saturated fat. Not only are they awesome in guacamole, they can be eaten alone as a fruit or as an ingredient in anything from soups to salads to sandwiches to entrees, etc. Try an avocado and tomato sandwich!! Yum!

Did you know that an avocado is actually a fruit and not a vegetable? Avocados are best when fully ripe. To test for ripeness of an avocado, hold the avocado gently in your hand. If the avocado is firm but yield to gentle pressure, then it is ripe. If pressing leaves a dent, the avocado is very ripe and is best suitable for mashing.

Tips for Ripening Avocado:

If you place a Hass avocado with an apple in a paper bag for 2 to 3 days at room temperature, the ethylene gas from the apple will ripen the avocado. Avocados will yield to gentle pressure when they’re ripened.

If you want to store ripe avocados for later use, you can add ½ teaspoon lemon juice to every ½ mashed avocado to prevent discoloration. Then after laying plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the mixture before covering it, you can refrigerate it (for up to two days) or you can place it in the freezer.

For delish recipes and more information about avocados, you can visit www.avocadocentral.com

Disclosure: I am very proud to be a spokesperson for the Hass Avocado Board.

Assistance provided by Rachel Yam

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