Healthful Eating For Active Lives: Avocados

Fats are an important component of a healthful diet, but not all fats are equally nutritious. When it comes to incorporating healthful fat into your diet, we explain why creamy avocados are a terrific choice.

If you love guacamole, we’ve got good news. The avocados mashed into your creamy dip are an excellent source of healthful fat. We need fat in our diet to provide essential fatty acids that the body cannot make itself. Fats support body function, keeping our skin and hair healthy and helping us absorb fat-soluble vitamins—but not all fats are healthful fats. One way to make sure that you are eating nutritious fat is to reach for avocados in the produce aisle.

Fats are considered saturated or unsaturated, depending on the type of fatty acid they contain. Unsaturated fats are the healthful choice. These fats can help lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol, reducing your risk for heart attack, stroke, and other health problems.

Avocados have a very high fat content, but they are also very high in omega 3 fatty acids in the form of alpha-linolenic acid. This is considered “good” unsaturated fat and accounts for about three-quarters of the calories in an avocado. In addition, avocados have more protein than other fruit, and comparatively low levels of sugar.

The creamy green flesh of the avocado is also a gold mine of essential vitamins and minerals. When you whip up guacamole or add slices of avocado to a sandwich, you are helping yourself to vitamin B5, vitamin B6, vitamin K, folic acid, antioxidants, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, and potassium. In fact, avocados have more potassium per gram than bananas.

Studies report that the health benefits of this satisfying fruit include the following:

  • Avocados are associated with a reduced risk of symptoms associated with stroke, coronary artery disease, and diabetes.
  • The antioxidants, omega 3 fatty acids, and fatty alcohols in avocados have anti-inflammatory properties that may help ease the inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
  • In addition to lowering bad cholesterol, research also suggests that avocados may increase levels of good cholesterol.
  • The high level of potassium in avocados can help keep blood pressure under control.

The biggest risk of snacking on avocados is eating too many; this is a healthful fat, but it is caloric. Let moderation be your guide. There are also a few people who are allergic to avocados. Allergy symptoms include a stuffy nose, wheezing, coughing, and swelling. For the most part, however, the health benefits of this leathery-skinned fruit far outweigh the risks. Including avocado on your weekly grocery list will add healthful fat and plenty of nutrients to your diet in a delicious way.

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