Wednesday, February 20, 2013

All About Avocados!

Avocados are pretty cool fruit, they taste great, have a soft buttery texture and can be used in a variety of dishes.  In Cantonese, avocados are called "gnow yow gwor" or, butter fruit, because of it's soft buttery texture, they are also called butter pears in English for the same reason.  Avocados are also called alligator pears, because of it's dark green bumpy skin, which resembles alligator skin.

Here are some interesting facts on avocados:

Avocado – A Super Food

AKA butter pear or alligator pear

A ripe avocado will yield to a gentle pressure when held in the palm of the hand and squeezed. The flesh is typically greenish yellow to golden yellow when ripe. The flesh is prone to enzymatic browning and turns brown quickly after exposure to air. To prevent this, lime or lemon juice can be added to avocados after they are peeled.

Health benefits:

It is a good antioxidant.

High avocado intake has been shown to have a beneficial effect on blood cholesterol levels.

Specifically, after a seven-day diet rich in avocados, hypercholesterolemia patients showed a 17% decrease in total serum cholesterol levels. These subjects also showed a 22% decrease in both LDL (harmful cholesterol) and triglyceride levels and 11% increase in HDL (helpful cholesterol) levels.

Avocados are high in monounsaturated fats – a good fat which helps lower cholesterol

Avocados are also known to promote healthy skin and hair.  And although many people use it as a facial mask, it is most beneficial when eaten.

Studies show that an adequate or regular intake of potassium can help to guard against circulatory diseases, like high blood pressure, heart disease or stroke.

Nutritional value:

About 75% of an avocado's calories come from fat, most of which is monounsaturated fat.

Avocados also have 30% more potassium than bananas, a mineral that helps regulate blood pressure.. They are rich in B vitamins, as well as vitamin E and vitamin K.[22]

They have a high fiber content among fruits.

1 cup = 146 grams = 235 calories

5 reasons to eat more avocados

1. Avocados are packed with carotenoids

Avocados are a great source of lutein, a carotenoid that works as an antioxidant and helps protect against eye disease. They also contain the related carotenoids zeaxanthin, alpha-carotene and beta-carotene, as well as tocopherol (vitamin E). But avocados aren’t just a rich source of carotenoids by themselves—they also help you get more of these nutrients from other foods. Carotenoids are lipophilic (soluble in fat, not water), so eating carotenoid-packed foods like fruits and vegetables along with monounsaturated-fat-rich avocados helps your body absorb the carotenoids. An easy way to do this is to add sliced avocado to a mixed salad.

2. Avocados make you feel full

Half an avocado contains 3.4 grams of fibre, including soluble and insoluble, both of which your body needs to keep the digestive system running smoothly. Plus, soluble fibre slows the breakdown of carbohydrates in your body, helping you feel full for longer. Avocados also contain oleic acid, a fat that activates the part of your brain that makes you feel full. Healthier unsaturated fats containing oleic acid have been shown to produce a greater feeling of satiety than less-healthy saturated fats and trans fats found in processed foods.

3. Avocados can protect your unborn baby—and your heart

One cup of avocado provides almost a quarter of your recommended daily intake of folate, a vitamin which cuts the risk of birth defects. If you’re pregnant—or planning to be—avocados will help protect your unborn baby. A high folate intake is also associated with a lower risk of heart attacks and heart disease. Does your family have a history of heart problems, or do you have risk factors (such as being overweight or smoking) for heart disease? Avocados could help keep your heart healthy.

4. Avocados can help lower your cholesterol

As well as increasing feelings of fullness, the oleic acid in avocados can help reduce cholesterol levels. In one study, individuals eating an avocado-rich diet had a significant decrease in total cholesterol levels, including a decrease in LDL cholesterol. Their levels of HDL cholesterol (the healthy type) increased by 11%. High cholesterol is one of the main risk factors for heart disease. The cholesterol-lowering properties of avocado, along with its folate content, help keep your heart healthy.

5. Avocados taste great!

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