Avocados Photo: Thinkstock
What you're eating
There are several different varieties sold at various times of the year. The most common ones are the dark-coloured, rough-skinned Hass and the smooth- skinned, bright green Fuerte. You may also see large, round Reed avocados in spring. Avocados are about 20 to 25 per cent fat by weight, and more than half of that fat is monounsaturated. Half a medium avocado provides more potassium than a banana, but minimal sodium. In contrast, reduced-fat margarine is about 55 per cent fat and even the salt-reduced varieties don’t meet the criteria for a low-salt food.
Despite their fat, or actually because of it, avocados can lower your cholesterol. Researchers find that replacing just 5 per cent of your kilojoules from saturated fat (think meat fat, butter or cheese) with monounsaturated fat – the kind in avocados – could slash the risk of heart attack by more than a third. An added benefit is that avocados are also high in beta-sitosterol, a plant sterol (also found in cholesterol-
lowering margarines such as Flora Pro-activ) that blocks the absorption of cholesterol from food, and the anticancer compound glutathione, which is known to be a powerful anti-oxidant.
Use avocados to replace other fat sources in your diet, not to add to them.
How much is enough: At up to 2000 kilojoules per Hass avocado, a little goes a long way. Cut half an avocado into five pieces and enjoy one piece for just 200 kilojoules – less energy than a tablespoon of mayonnaise and much more healthy.
Buying right: Choose avocados that seem heavy for their size and store them on the kitchen bench or in the fruit bowl until they’re ripe, or place them in a paper bag to speed up ripening. Hass avocados become very dark when ripe, but other varieties may become quite soft while still bright green. To tell if an avocado is ready to eat, gently press it near the stem to see if it’s soft, or pull the stem out, and if it comes
off easily and the flesh underneath is green, then the avocado is ripe.
Key nutrients: monounsaturated fat, folate (a B vitamin), vitamin A, potassium, sterols
From Food Cures
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