Focus On Health: The amazing avocado

Some people mistakenly believe avocados are an unhealthy food due to its fat content, but tablespoon per tablespoon the California avocado contains less than 1/4th the fat calories as butter or margarine.

Nutritionally, avocadoes are about 75 per cent water, and contain no cholesterol or heart-and-vessel-damaging trans fats. They also contain a large amount of lipase, the helpful digestive enzyme responsible for breaking down fats into fatty acids.

Avocados contain 9.7 g heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and 99 mg omega-3 in half a cup. They also contain all nine essential amino acids, making them a well-rounded, wholesome food filled with 16% of your daily vitamin C, 30% folate, 10% iron, 1% calcium, 40% vitamin B5, 36% vitamin B6, 32% vitamin K, 26% copper, 12% magnesium, 12% zinc, 15% potassium, 44% fiber, 9% vitamin A, and between 6-14% each amino acid, including brain-and-nerve-healthy tryptophan.

As far as the nutrient panel goes, one avocado meets an impressive 15% of the total recommended daily targets for vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, lipids and protein combined. With an impressive nutrient value like this it makes avocados a good anti-cancer, heart-healthy, brain-boosting food.

These green fleshy fruits are great when eaten fresh, made into guacamole, salad dressings and raw soup, put on sandwiches, in pitas, smoothies and salads, and used as a substitute for other spreads. Be sure to limit blender time to 3 seconds as you may end up with mousse instead of a dressing or smoothie. They can even be used to make a delicious carob peanut butter avocado pudding, pies and non-dairy ice cream.

Mainly people use avocados like a vegetable but combine well with fruits or vegetables in the same meal, but not with nuts. Guacamole, whole or pureed avocados may be frozen for convenience without the skin and seed.

One interesting thing about avocados is that though they grow to maturity on trees they will not fully ripen or soften until after they have been picked.

They bruise easily too, so often they must be hand-picked and -boxed.

Eat avocados and your heart, nerves, and brain will love you.

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