Avocados: They’re Actually Healthy

Sometimes called alligator pear or butter fruit, avocados are nutritious, versatile, and delicious.  Some call it a fruit, some call it a vegetable, however, the avocado (Persea americana) is actually a berry.  It is a member of the Lauraceae family, which includes the cinnamon tree.

Avocados are Native of Mexico and Central America, but are cultivated in many areas of the world.  They are an important part of traditional Mexican, Central American, and South American cuisine and have become a staple in many kitchens around the world.

Packed with vitamins, minerals and other nutrients such as healthy fats, fiber, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds, avocados have been linked to several health benefits and have become very popular in the world of health and wellness.

Each avocado contains about 14 grams of fiber which is almost half of the current recommended daily intake.  Fiber helps promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria which is essential for the health of our digestive system.

Avocados are very nutritious and a concentrated source of healthy fats, fiber and a number of vitamins and minerals.  They are rich in nutrients that are often lacking in our diets such as magnesium, B6 (30% of the DV), vitamin C (22% of the (DV), vitamin E (28% of the DV), and folate (41% of the DV & 27% of DV for pregnant women).

Avocados are rich in potassium (21% of the DV) and magnesium (14% of the DV) both of which are beneficial for blood pressure regulation.  Maintaining a healthy blood pressure level is critical to the prevention of heart disease.

Although more research is needed, studies suggest that avocados my help increase levels of HDL (good) cholesterol and reduce the levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.  LDL cholesterol has been associated with the accumulation of plaque along artery walls.

Avocados are a good source of B6 (30% of the DV), lutein, α-Carotene, and β-Carotene, all of which have been shown to have strong antioxidant effects which suppress inflammation and protect against oxidative damage which has been associated with the progression of many chronic diseases.

Lutein and zeaxanthin, two phytochemicals found in avocados, absorb light waves that can harm your vision.  People whose diet is rich in these antioxidants are less likely to have age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in older adults.

As mentioned above, avocados are rich in folate (27% of DV for pregnant women) which plays an important role in the prevention of birth defects.  In addition, people who are deficient in this important B vitamin may be more prone to depression and less likely to respond well to antidepressants.

One avocado brings about 28% of the DV of vitamin E which research suggests may help protect against Alzheimer’s disease and slow the decline of memory and thinking skills.

Nutritious, delicious and versatile, avocados are easy to incorporate in your diet.  Of course there’s the ever-popular guacamole and the avocado toast, but it can also be added to a salad, a smoothie, as a topping for your favorite chili or soup.  Or if you have 5 minutes and an extra avocado, you can whip up a dairy-free chocolate pudding.

Dairy-Free Chocolate Avocado Pudding (makes 2 servings)

1 medium avocado, ripe

2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

2 Tbsp. honey or agave nectar

6 Tbsp. almond milk

Top with pistachios or other nuts of your choice.

♦ Cut open the avocado and scoop out the pit. Cut it into large chunks and put in the blender.

Add the cocoa, honey or agave, and almond milk. Blend, starting on low and then moving to high speed until it is smooth.

If the avocado is larger, you will need a bit more of each ingredient. If it is too thick, drizzle in a bit more almond milk. Add more cocoa or honey or agave to taste.

Refrigerate the pudding and serve cold. Top with pistachios or other nuts. Enjoy!

NB: Fred likes it! 

You can also check out   Akumal Foodie – Taverna’s Avocado Fried

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