Oh, the avocado. Such a rich, delicious food, but what exactly is it? It almost kind of looks like it could be a dinosaur egg. But is it a fruit? A vegetable?… While often used as a vegetable, it’s considered a fruit, yet botanists define it as a large berry with a single seed.
There are lots to know about avocados. They’re full of nutrients, are super delicious, and often make the “top 10” sort of lists when it comes to keto foods. So let’s talk about some of the details of this superfood.
Including 20 different vitamins and minerals, this leathery skin produce has become incredibly popular among the health-conscious. While types of avocados vary greatly—from a typical sort of pear shape to round, in the green color we usually expect to black, and weighing anywhere from 8 ounces to 3 pounds—avocados are always pretty loaded with nutrients.
Here are just some of the vitamins and minerals (and at a glance their most typically recognized benefits) found in the most common commercial avocado, the Hass variety. It contains the following in a serving size of approximately half an avocado.
- Dietary Fiber (4.6g) digestive health and regular bowel movements
- Potassium (345mg) one of the most important minerals in the body
- Magnesium (19.5mg) regulating muscle and nerve function
- Vitamin A (43mcg) vision, the immune system, and reproduction
- Vitamin C (6.0mg) growth, development, and repair of body tissues
- Vitamin E (1.3mg) prevent inflammation, promote eye health
- Vitamin K1 (14mcg) plays a major role in blood clotting
- Folate (60mg) needed to make red and white blood cells in the bone marrow
- Vitamin B-6 (0.2mg) normal brain development, healthy nervous and immune systems
- Niacin (1.3mg) improve cholesterol levels and lower cardiovascular risks
- Pantothenic Acid (1.0mg) one of the most important vitamins for human life
- Riboflavin (0.1mg) growth and overall good health
- Choline (10mg) healthy brain function, heart health, liver function, and pregnancy
- Lutein/Zeaxanthin (185mcg) prevent eye diseases
- Phytosterols (57mg) cell membrane function and reducing blood cholesterol levels
- High-monounsaturated Fatty Acids (6.7g) weight loss, reduce risk of heart disease and decrease inflammation
Aren’t they amazing?! And that’s just some of the nutrition they offer!
When Fat Is A Good Thing
While you may not always associate fat with being good for your waistline, when it comes to avocados, you definitely can. 77% of the calories contained in them are from fat, making the avocado one of the fattiest plant foods we know of.
It’s a monounsaturated fatty acid, oleic acid to be exact, which makes up the majority of their contained fats. Oleic acid is associated with inflammation reduction and may have beneficial effects on the genes that are linked to many cancers.
Your brain will appreciate the healthy fats too. The right nutrients from our diet can help to formulate our neurotransmitters, neuro-chemicals, and regulate our blood sugar and hormones, which can help balance the brain. Since our brains are about 60% fat, they need to be fed good fats through what we eat to keep running as optimally as possible.
Typically when you think of losing weight, that means losing fat and cutting fats out of your diet, but when it comes to avocados, they can offer weight loss support. It’s not only their monounsaturated fat that makes avocados friendly to the waistline, it’s their rich fiber content that also helps you feel full. This means you’re more likely to feel satisfied longer and less likely to overeat or choose unhealthy snacks later.
Even More Potassium Than A Banana
Potassium is a very significant mineral to have enough of in our bodies to function properly. It plays a role in blood pressure, helps send nerve signals, and regulates muscle contractions—including those in the heart—just to name a few benefits. Once potassium is inside the body it functions as an electrolyte offering necessary support to regulate fluid balance.
Even though it’s so important, unfortunately, potassium is a nutrient that most people don’t get enough of. The Institute of Medicine’s Adequate Intake recommendation is set at 4,700 mg per day for adults. When individuals were studied, the analyzed data showed the average intake was only 2,640 (18) mg.
Move over bananas, avocados to the rescue!
While bananas are usually mentioned in a high potassium food list, they only contain about half the potassium an avocado does. Bananas weigh in with 487 milligrams, while avocado wins with some as high as 975 milligrams of potassium.
But bananas don’t need to feel left out. They still have healthy nutrients. Plus, if you want an avocado to ripen quicker, let them hang out in a brown paper bag with a banana and the ethylene gas (which is a naturally-occurring plant hormone) will speed up the ripening process.
Oh, and a side note, if you’re considering (or already follow) a Ketogenic type of diet, it’s an excellent idea to be including avocados. Especially when you start on that diet path, you’ll want to increase your potassium intake to help relieve symptoms of the common “keto flu”.
Nutrition That Helps You Absorb
It’s great to consume healthy foods or take needed vitamin supplements, but being able to effectively absorb what you consume is essential too. Some vitamins, like A, D, E, and K, for example, are fat-soluble. This means they need to be combined with fat to be optimally utilized.
If you’re including avocado with your healthy diet, it probably means you’re amping up your ability to absorb the antioxidants you’re taking in! One study showed that the addition of the healthy oils from avocados increased absorption 2.6 to 15-fold!
So they’re not only delicious, but avocados help you benefit more fully from the other nutritious foods you consume. It’s a win-win.
Happy Skin & Eyes
While the skin on an avocado may be as green and bumpy as alligator skin, that healthy, oil-rich flesh inside is great for the skin our bodies are covered in. The vitamin C avocados contain can soothe dry skin and may help accelerate wound healing, as well as, reduce skin inflammation.
The naturally occurring essential oils, antioxidants, and amino acids inside an avocado could help treat sunburns, moisturize dry skin, repair damaged hair, and maybe even offer a reduction in wrinkles.
Besides the way avocados help us better absorb the nutrition we take in, they contain carotenoids (a class of phytonutrients or “plant chemicals” that give them their color). Lutein and zeaxanthin, which are mentioned in the “nutrient list” earlier are known for their vision and eye benefits. This means consuming avocados may offer a reduced risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.
A Food For All Ages
Avocados can help energize us, provide vital nutrients, offer boosts to our nervous system and brains, along with providing a great flavor and texture to the meals we eat. Whether we’ve been enjoying them for years or are ready to slice into our very first one, an avocado is a superb food choice whatever age we are!
Many parents include mashed avocados for their babies as some of their very first solid foods. The soft flesh under the avocado skin makes it easy to prepare for a little one, with little risk of choking. And all those healthy oils and unsaturated fats are wonderful for baby’s growth and brain development!
So Many Ways To Enjoy Them
Besides slicing an avocado open and enjoying it bite by bite, there are tons of ways to include this mega healthy food in your meals. Here are some ideas:
- Grilled – Cut an avocado in half, remove seed pit, drizzle with lemon juice, and Wild MCT Oil. Grill 2-4 minutes.
- Stuffed – Fill avocado halves with egg and bake until the egg white has fully set. Top with herbs and spices.
- Soup – It can be your main ingredient or just added as chunks to your soup. Enjoy hot or cold.
- In Desserts – Avocado can be used as a vegan substitute for butter, shortening, eggs, and oils in baking recipes.
- Versatile Topping – Sliced avocado goes great on tacos, nachos, burgers, gluten-free pizzas, and more.
- Sour Cream Substitute – Blend avocados with lime juice, Wild MCT Oil or avocado oil, water, salt, and pepper.
- Avocado Pudding – Wild Cocoa Powder, Collagen, and Pink Salt go into this recipe to make a delicious, rich pudding.
- Scrambled Eggs – Simply diced some up and add to pan when eggs are almost finished, or eat raw as a topping.
- Healthy Ice Cream – Try avocados with almond or coconut milk and a bit of honey as the sweetener.
- Guacamole – Smash avocados and include some desired herbs and seasonings. Garlic powder and Wild Pink Salt are great choices.
People are whipping up delicious smoothies, shakes, salad dressings, mayonnaise substitutes, fries, and even pickling avocados. They’re just this superfood you can use, enjoy, and benefit from in so many different ways!
So snap some photos, tag us on Instagram @wildfoodsco and let us know what recipes you try and like the most in your Real Food lifestyle.