Does “being healthy” feel like a daunting task? Like everything “good” is off limits and a really good diet is pretty boring? I thought like this for a long time too… but I'm happy to say it's not the case ;-)
Eating healthy is fun! I'm being serious here… there are hundreds of different healthy foods that taste amazing and give you tons of energy… I cannot wait to share them with you! That's why i created “The Secret Foods” blog series which will be dedicated to the most amazing foods on the planet (in no particular order), What they are, Why they are important, and How to enjoy them… Here goes…
Top 10 AMAZING goods you need on your plate TODAY
#9 of 10 Avocado
What it is…
Is an avocado a fruit, or a vegetable? Great question! You may be inclined to call it a vegetable, thanks to its green color and savory taste, but an avocado is actually a fruit. More specifically, it is a single seeded berry. There are many varieties of avocadoes worldwide, with the most popular we see being the hass. Hass are medium-sized avocado with a thick, dimpled green skin who turns purple-black when ripe. The inside is creamy and smooth.
Avocados grow on trees, and are native to South Central Mexico. The avocado tree does not tolerate freezing temperatures, and can only be grown in subtropical climates. Similar to bananas, avocados mature on the tree, but ripen off the tree. Once picked, avocados ripen in one to two weeks at room temperature. They ripen faster if stored with other fruits, such as bananas. Once your avocado has is at that perfect ripeness point, hold it in the fridge for up to one week. When you get that perfectly ripened avocado, use it, or place it in the fridge for up to one week. Refrigeration halts the ripening process.
Why it’s important…
Avocados are a super nutrient-dense food choice, meaning they provide vitamins, minerals and other nutrients with relatively few calories. Avocadoes are rich in healthy monounsaturated fats that help reduce our inflammation, boost the absorption of fat soluble vitamins, and are naturally high in fiber. Avocados are great for athletes because they help boost immunity, promote healthy gut function, help prevent cramps and maintain electrolyte balance.
Top 5 Health Benefits…
- Potassium loaded. An avocado actually has more potassium than a banana! A single avocado has 975g of potassium, versus 487 in a banana. Potassium is our friend in cramp prevention, helps maintain electrolyte balance and reduces blood pressure.
- Protein booster. One of the few fruits out there with high amounts of protein. One avocado contains 4 grams of protein, a great addition to meals or snacks to get that extra in.
- Fiber loaded. Fiber, found in avocado, promotes healthy gut function. One serving provides a little over 25 percent of an adult’s daily needs. Fiber helps support digestive health. Having a healthy gut supports nutrient absorption, and ultimately promotes a stronger body.
- Anti-inflammatory properties. Anti-inflammatory vitamins folate, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, vitamin B6 found in avocados are beneficial to athletes. They help reduce inflammation caused by exercise stress and tares that occur during exercise. By eating avocado, the body is able to recover better, and more quickly, by addressing inflammation and healing tissue damage caused by exercise.
- Healthy fat. Yes, there is such a thing as a healthy fat! Monounsaturated fats, found in avocado, are of the healthiest fats we can eat. Fat is needed in our diets to help absorb fat soluble vitamins and nutrients. One vitamin in particular is Vitamin A, or carotenoids (lutein and xeaxantin). These are important to eye health and are best absorbed by the body when a healthy fat is present.
Ten Ways to Enjoy Avocado
Now that we know all of the amazing health benefits of avocados, let’s talk about some fun ways to eat them!
- In a smoothie. Avocados make a great base for any fruity smoothie, packing in extra nutritional goodies as well. Make sure you blend them well so it doesn’t end up like a guacamole smoothie.
- Swap them into baked goods recipes for butter. The creamy texture and healthy fats make for an easy baking sub, and won’t turn your food green.
- Top an omelet or scrambled eggs with a few slices of avocado for a little twist on the normal.
- Spread on a slice of wheat toast. Take a quarter of a ripe avocado, and spread it on! Great butter replacement with added nutrients.
- Make chocolate mousse. Combine 1 very ripe avocado, 6 semisweet ounces melted chocolate, 3 tablespoons honey and a pinch of salt into a food processor until smooth.
- Make guacamole for dipping other veggies in. Easy way, smash 4 very ripe avocadoes in a bowl. Then add in 1 guacamole packet, ¼ chopped white onion, 1/4C chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lime. Hint to keep your guacamole green, not brown? Leave the pit in the guacamole.
- Bake your eggs into them. Slice and pit an avocado. Put the half into a baking dish and crack an egg into each half. Bake for 12 minutes at 450. Drizzle with hot sauce if you like!
- Grilled. Yes, you can grill an avocado! Simply cut it in half, remove the seed, drizzle with a little olive oil and place cut side down on the grill for 2-3 minutes. Add a little salt and pepper on top for a little extra taste.
- Avocados make a super substitute binder for salads for mayo. Swap for mayo in chicken, tuna or egg salads
- Make into a dressing. Blend the following together and adjust with water as needed. ½ an avocado, ½ cup water, ½ cup chopped cilantro, 1 lime-juiced, 1 clove of garlic, ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt, 1/2tsp salt, 1/4tsp ground black pepper.
Who’s going to the store for some avocadoes? There is no unsafe amount of avocado to eat, however, do remember that it is a calorie-dense fruit. Most athletes will benefit from consuming 1/3-1/2 avocado per day. Keep your uneaten avocado green by leaving the pit in the half, squeeze some lemon or lime on the flesh and cover up with the other half and place in a baggie.
I hope you are enjoying the secret foods! Eat power food, be powerful. If you need any questions answered, shoot me an email at email@example.com
Lindsay Wexler, RDN, CSSD, LD
Clinical Dietitian, Board Certified Sports Dietitian