The benefits of avocado

Friday 10th June, 2016

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You can find it everywhere - in your chicken sandwich, your salad or your sushi roll. It’s green (but not wicked), healthy and delicious. It’s an avocado, and it’s time you got to know it a bit more.

Grow a pair

Image: Giulia Ausani

The name ‘“avocado’” comes from the Nahuatl (Aztec) word “ahuacatl”, meaning testicle. The Aztecs may had chosen the name because of avocado's shape, or because they believed avocados had aphrodisiac qualities. Either way, you can bring up this fun little fact the next time you’re enjoying some guacamole with your friends.

Avocados have it all

Avocados are a nutrient-dense fruit, with high amounts of fibre, vitamins and minerals that are beneficial for your health. For example:

  • Vitamin B6 reduces the risk of heart diseases and helps the immune system produce antibodies.
  • Vitamin K is essential for blood clotting and makes your bones stronger, preventing you from developing osteoporosis.
  • Folates are especially good for pregnant women. They synthetise DNA, which lowers the risk of birth defects by helping cells grow.
  • Potassium helps control blood pressure: 100g of avocado contains 450 mg of potassium, whereas 100g of banana only has 350mg.
  • According to the UK Institute of Food Research, fibre maintains healthy bowels and protects against heart disease. Moreover, it makes you feel full for longer by slowing down the carbohydrates in your body.
  • Carotenoids, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, can help maintain good eyesight.
  • They also contain more copper, iron, magnesium, and manganese.

Good fat

Avocados contain a high amount of calories and are extremely fatty – but it's good fat. In fact, avocados are cholesterol-free.

Image: Giulia Ausani

High cholesterol is one of the main causes of heart diseases. Avocados contain monounsaturated fat, which increases the levels of good cholesterol (HDL cholesterol), while decreasing the levels of bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol).

Avocados also contain beta-sitosterol, a phytosterol (plant sterol) that reduces the amount of cholesterol you absorb from your food.

But…

It’s true that avocados are extremely good for your health. But don’t forget that they are also highly calorific (around 230 calories per 100g). So it’s better not to exaggerate.

Here is a quick and simple recipe for a healthy and tasty meal:

RICE AND AVOCADO

Image: Giulia Ausani

Ingredients:

- 80g of basmati rice

- 1 avocado

- olive oil, or extra virgin olive oil

- 1/2 a lime or lemon

- salt to taste

Cook rice in a large pan of boiling salted water (normally, 8-10 minutes). Stir from time to time.

While the rice is cooking, chop the avocado. The easiest way to do this is by cutting it in half and slicing it inside the skin, without piercing it. Don’t bother peeling it: you can simply use a spoon to take out the squared pieces.

Make sure that the avocado is ripe: if it’s not soft and you have trouble cutting it, this means it is still unripe.

Drain the rice when it’s ready, and then return it to the pan.

While it is still hot, add the sliced avocado and stir. The heat will soften the avocado even more, giving the rice a lovely green shade. Let it rest for a while until it has cooled down.

Add a bit of oil and squeeze the lemon or lime (you can vary the quantity according to your taste), then stir again.

Serve and enjoy.