Naturally Low Carb: Avocado Facts and Recipe

by ADA

Avocado Nutritional Values

Avocados Contribute to a Healthy Lifestyle

Avocados are one of Nature's whole foods -- a natural for today's healthy lifestyles. This power-packed fruit has just 5 grams of fat per serving ( 1/5 of an avocado). The majority of the fat is monounsaturated -- the same type found in olive oil -- which studies have shown may increase HDL (good) cholesterol, but has little effect on LDL (bad) cholesterol.

You can enjoy delicious meals made with a variety of fruits and vegetables and reap the potential benefits of the many phytochemicals found in foods from plant sources. Phytochemicals are substances which plants naturally produce. Hundreds of these substances contain phytosterols and antioxidants.

Here's a closer look at two phytochemicals found in fruits and vegetables:

* Beta-sitosterol is an important phytosterol found in fruits like bananas, apples, cantaloupes, grapes, plums, and cherries. High phytosterol intake has been linked with lower blood cholesterol levels. Among all commonly eaten fruits, oranges and avocados contain the most beta-sitosterol and contain at least twice the amount of the phytosterol found in other foods, including corn, green soybeans, and olives.
* Glutathione, a phytochemical found in fruits and vegetables, acts as an antioxidant. Antioxidants help the body by ?mopping up? free radicals that are known to play a role in the development of heart disease and some cancers. Avocados may be one of the best fruit sources of glutathione, which may offer some protection against oral, throat, and other types of cancer.

Additional health benefits of avocados

While phytochemicals have received a lot of attention lately, other important nutrients are found in fruits and vegetables.

* Avocados along with other fruits and vegetables are nutrient-dense in vitamins E and C -- antioxidants that help promote healthy teeth and gums and protect the body tissue from oxidation damage.
* Folate is another important nutrient that promotes healthy cell and tissue development. Consuming enough folate is essential for pregnant women and women of child-bearing age. Avocados contain more folate per ounce than other fruits.
* Potassium is a mineral that helps the body's fluids and other life-essential minerals stay in balance. The richest fruit sources of potassium are avocados and bananas.

The ripe way to eat healthfully

Store unripe avocados in a fruit bowl on the kitchen counter. Avocados are also easy to ripen. Place them in a paper bag with an apple for 2 to 3 days at room temperature. When they're dark purple or black in color and yield to gentle pressure, they're ready to eat!

* Wash, then cut the avocado lengthwise around the seed.
* Twist the halves in opposite directions to separate.
* Slip a spoon between the seed and the fruit and work the seed out.
* Slip a spoon between the skin and fruit and scoop away from the peel.

When avocados are ripe, they can be stored in a refrigerator or freezer for later use as a spread for sandwiches or for a delicious dip!

* Mash the remaining fruit in a covered storage container.
* Add 1/2 teaspoon lemon or lime juice per 1/2 mashed avocado to prevent discoloration and enhance flavor.
* Lay plastic wrap directly on the surface of the mixture before covering. Refrigerate up to two days.
* Label container and use within two months if freezing. Season before use.

Toss up new menu ideas using kitchen staples along with tasty avocados, salad greens, mandarin oranges, and avocado balsamic vinaigrette.

Avocado Mandarin Salad

Makes 4 servings

1 package (9-10 ounces) mixed salad greens
1 can (15 ounces) mandarin oranges, well drained
1 package (6 ounces) cooked and sliced chicken
2 thin slices red onion, quartered
1/4 cup pecans, toasted
1/2 cup prepared light Italian or balsamic vinaigrette dressing
2 ripe avocados, seeded, peeled, and cut into chunks

In large salad bowl, combine salad greens, mandarin oranges, chicken, onion, and pecans. In small bowl combine dressing and 1/2 cup avocado cubes. Mash and blend into dressing. To salad add remaining avocado cubes and dressing. Toss and serve.

360 calories per serving; 18 grams protein; 30 grams carbohydrate; 21 grams fat (4 grams saturated fat, 12 grams monounsaturated fat, 5 grams polyunsaturated fat); 35 milligrams cholesterol; 10 grams fiber; 510 milligrams sodium

For more information
The American Dietetic Association/National Center for Nutrition and Dietetics.
ADA's Consumer Nutrition Information Line (800/366-1655) provides recorded messages with timely, practical nutrition information as well as referrals to registered dietitians. Messages are available 24 hours daily with new topics each month.

This fact sheet is supported by a grant from California Avocado Commission. Acceptance of this grant does not constitute an endorsement by ADA of any company's products or services.

© ADAF 2000. Reproduction of this fact sheet is permitted for educational purposes.


 
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