Avocados 101: The Ultimate Superfood
Discover the benefits of avocados and ways to incorporate them into your weekly meals.
Written by Emily Chow, University of Alberta Student in the Nutrition and Food Science program at the University of Alberta and reviewed by our Health Stand Nutrition Dietitian Team
What Exactly are Avocados?
Avocados have rocketed in popularity over the years and have become one of the most exported products across America. According to the National American Spine Society, California is the top avocado production state in the US, with a total production of 188,500 tons in 2020-2021.
An avocado is a creamy, green berry (yes, berry!) with dark leathery skin. The first avocado tree originated in Puebla, Mexico over 10,000 years ago!
Not only does this superfood offer many health benefits, but there are countless ways to enjoy avocado. The butter-like texture and mild nutty flavour makes this fruit extremely versatile
In this blog post, we’ll cover different avocado benefits and some unique avocado recipes.
Improved heart health
Avocados have a unique nutrient profile that contributes to a healthy cardiovascular system and is one of the best sources of unsaturated fats (“good fats”). The Heart and Stroke Foundation recommends choosing unsaturated fats over saturated fats. Unsaturated fats can ease inflammation, improve blood cholesterol levels and prevent blood clotting. One study found that avocados may increase HDL cholesterol (“good cholesterol”) and decrease oxidized LDL cholesterol (“bad cholesterol”), which can protect the heart.
Good for pregnancy
Avocados can be good for pregnancy. Folate in particular is an important nutrient of concern to prevent brain problems and neural tube defects in the fetus. Avocados are an excellent source of folate, with one avocado at ~27% of the recommended intake for pregnancy. Avocados are also good sources of Vitamin B6, which can help alleviate morning sickness. The rich content of magnesium and fibre can also control digestion, which can be is a common problem in pregnancy.
Promotion of eye health
Avocados are good for your eyes because of their high lutein content. Lutein is a powerful carotenoid and antioxidant that protects the bodies cells from injury. Studies have shown that it can prevent cataracts and ultraviolet damage. Since the body cannot synthesize lLutein on its own, it is important to include sources of lutein in your diet.
Improvement of satiety
Avocados are one of the best sources of “good” fats. The good fats from avocados are mostly monounsaturated fats which can keep you full for longer by slowing the emptying of the stomach. One study found that participants that added half an avocado to a meal self-reported increased satiety and fullness, compared to participants who did not include avocados. Since avocados can keep you fuller for longer, they may also help those concerned about their weight.with weight loss.
Boost skin health
Avocados have also been shown to have skin-enhancing benefits. The versatile ingredients lead to a brighter complexion. Avocados have been shown to be beneficial for skin health by increasing collagen synthesis and enrichment. Another study found that avocados can strengthen the firmness and elasticity of the skin in women.
8 Ways to Eat Avocados
Avocados are an amazing fruit, with incredible versatility. Add avocados to your favourite recipe or try a new one below! From avocado gelato to avocado fries, the possibilities are endless.
1. Avocado fries
- These are perfect snacks that pair well with chipotle mayo, fry sauce (mayo and ketchup), or ranch. The crispiness on the outside and creaminess on the inside make this a fantastic combo. Make sure you use avocados that aren’t TOO ripe, so they do not fall apart while they cook.
- Avocado Fries
2. Avocado gelato
- Avocado gelato is sweet yet savoury. The avocado makes the gelato exceptionally velvety, smooth and creamy. This recipe only requires 3 ingredients.
- Avocado Gelato
3. Grilled avocado
- Grilling avocados is so delicious yet so simple. Top each grilled avocado slice with anything you please; salsa, pico de gallo, sriracha, feta, or honey. These are fantastic for hosting BBQs or parties.
- Grilled Avocado
4. Avocado brownies
- Who knew avocados could be used for brownies? The avocado enhances the brownie flavour to another level, without the taste of the avocado taking over. It also adds some creaminess to the brownies. This is a great way to add some nutrients to this dessert.
- Avocado Brownies
5. Avocado soup
- The creaminess of avocados can once again be used! The avocados can also make soups dairy-free. You can make a cold soup to cool you down in the summer, or a hot soup to have on a cozy winter day.
- Avocado Soup
6. Avocado salad dressing
- Avocados can be added to a basic vinaigrette to make a creamy salad dressing. Add a few herbs to enhance the flavour even more. It could even be used as a dip!
- Avocado Salad Dressing
7. Avocado sushi rolls
- Sushi can be made easily at home with avocados! You can use plastic wrap and a towel instead of a bamboo mat. Serve on their own or with spicy mayo. As a bonus, these are a great way to enjoy sushi while pregnant
- Avocado Sushi Rolls
8. Avocado Pancakes
- Adding avocados can add some extra nutrients to your breakfast and give them a soft green colour. The consistency also becomes thick and fluffy. Top with whatever you’d like; blueberries, syrup, bananas, etc.
- Avocado Pancakes
As you can see, avocados have a great nutritional profile, with a range of benefits for your health. Incorporate avocados into your next meal and you won’t be disappointed!
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Brought to you by our friendly Registered Dietitian team at Health Stand Nutrition Consulting Inc. For more balanced living advice check out our RESOURCE MEGA BANK of nutrition articles, videos, healthy recipes, newsletters and meal planning kits here: www.healthstandnutrition.com/personal-nutrition/resource-mega-bank/