Food Focus - Avocado
Avocados are a highly nutritious fruit, native to central and South America. In Australia avocados come in several different varieties including Hass, Fuerte and Reed and are generally available all year round.
Avocados are packed full of goodness; a great source of vitamin K, vitamin E, dietary fibre, potassium, folate, vitamin C and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine).
However, avocadoes are best known for they’re content of ‘good’ oils. That is, they contain a high level of oleic acid (omega-9) a monounsaturated dietary fat. Eating a diet high in monounsaturated oils can assist in decreasing total cholesterol levels, increasing HDL (‘good’ cholesterol) and decreasing LDL levels (‘bad’ cholesterol). Oleic acid has also been shown to promote the production of antioxidants and slow the development of heart disease.
For new parents or parents to be - avocados contain the exact ratio of omega 3,6,9 as breast milk and so is a fantastic food to ween little ones onto. It also takes 9 months to grow an avocado from seed (if you have a male and female tree) – very simular to growing a baby! This amazing fruit also contains an abundance of antioxidants: caratenoids, lutein, zeaxanthin, alpha- carotene and beta-carotene. Caratenoids are fat-soluble substances meaning, they need to be in the presence of dietary fat to be absorbed, and therefore are well absorbed in the form of avocado – just as nature intended.
In March 2005 the Journal of Nutrition published a study, confirming that by simply adding avocado to a salad full of caratenoid-rich fruit and vegetables such as tomato, lettuce and baby spinach, the bioavailability and absorption of these caratenoids increased from 5 to up to 15 times! A great reason to add avocado to your meals!
Like anything, avocados should be eaten in moderation. On average, eating half an avocado a day is healthy, and will not make you put on weight. Remember the ‘fat’ from avocado is very beneficial and essential for our body.
If great health isn’t enough reason to include avocados in your diet, maybe improved skin and hair will be! The ‘good’ oils and high vitamin E content in avocados promote healthy, hydrated and glowing skin and shiny hair.
There are countless ways to add avocado to your diet. Avocado makes a great ‘natural butter’ so start with replacing your dairy-based butter or margarine, with the creamy avocado alternative. Add avocado to your colourful summer salads, homemade pizza, make avocado dip (guacamole), include in a salad wrap or whole grain roll, drizzle avocado oil on salads (avoid heating this oil).
Tip: Squeeze fresh lemon juice on a cut avocado to stop it turning brown and oxidising, or mash up an avocado and mix in fresh lemon juice for the same reason – it also tastes great as a spread too! The health benefits of avocado don’t stop internally, many day spas use avocado for skin and hair treatments; cleansers, moisturisers, face and skin masks.
Vege chips with beans and guacamole salsa
Finely slice beetroot, pumpkin, potato to make thin chips. Drizzle with oil and seasalt and
bake in oven until crispy. Arrange in a bowl and dip into avocado/bean guacamole.
1 Ripe Avocado
1/2 cup Dried Black Turtle Beans or kidney beans
1 tsp Tabasco Sauce
½ teaspoon of crushed garlic
1 small diced red capsicum
Soak black turtle beans in water for 12 hours. Drain and rinse before boiling in fresh water
for 15-20 minutes or until soft (or use a can of well rinsed kidney beans). Mash avocado and
combine with beans, diced capsicum, garlic and tabasco to taste. Serve with veggie
sticks/chips/ corn chips or pita bread chips.
Steamed vegetables with tahini avocado mayo
Steam your choice of vegetables (pumpkin, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower etc). Dress with this yummy mayo.
Whisk ingredients until smooth and creamy – add a little water or apple cider vinegar to make it a more runny consistency if desired