Why Avocados Are So Amazing

A fruit that’s loaded with fat may sound like an oxymoron, but that’s exactly what an avocado is. More than 75 percent of the calories in an avocado come from unsaturated fat, most of which is monounsaturated, the type that helps protect your pumper.

The fruit’s healthy fat content may grab all the headlines, but avocados also deliver vitamins E and C, potassium, folate, and fiber. And it contains plant sterols that may help reduce the risk for cancer, as well as the antioxidant, lutein, which help keep your eyes healthy.

Studies show that avocados can help reduce cholesterol levels, improve heart health, and aid in weight management.

Nutrients Packed into Avocados

Talk about an avocado advantage: The superfruit is clearly good for your insides, but it’s equally beneficial for your outsides, too. Avocado is packed with nearly 20 vitamins and minerals, many of which boast skin-saving perks, including:

  • Vitamin C - This immune-boosting compound also helps with tissue growth and repair, and is also necessary to form collagen (a protein that gives skin its elasticity).
  • Vitamin E - This antioxidant protects against free radicals, which damage the skin and other parts of your body.
  • Lutein – This compound, which helps boost eye health, may also help protect the skin against harsh UV damage.
  • Monounsaturated fats – These fats help your body absorb key nutrients and plant compounds, allowing your skin to reap as many benefits as possible from the superfruit. Plus, studies show that higher intakes of total dietary fat are associated with greater skin elasticity. This is especially important as we age, because skin elasticity automatically decreases.
  • Carotenoids – These compounds help protect against the damage caused by UV rays. The more produce you eat (including avocados), the higher concentration of carotenoids in your body, studies suggest.

One caveat: If you’re watching your weight, the fruit’s high fat content means it has a lot of calories, so aim to stick with a one-ounce serving (that’s about ¼ of an avocado).

And if you tend to have stomach sensitivities, try adding it into your diet gradually—some people experience discomfort from high-fat foods.

Ways to Enjoy Avocados

There are so many great ways to enjoy avocados because they are so versatile. You can slather the creamy green fruit on almost everything. They add substance, flavor, and heart-healthy fat to dips, spreads, and smoothies. You can even use it in sweet dishes, including puddings and mousse and ice pops.

Try these tasty tips to incorporate avocado into some of your meals and snacks:

  • Use it to make guacamole, of course! You can lighten up the classic dip by mixing in some nonfat Greek yogurt—you get the same smooth texture with an added hit of protein. Or try mixing an equal amount of guacamole with salsa to create a delicious Salsa-mole. Use crudité like celery, red pepper strips and cherry tomatoes instead of greasy, fried chips to slim down your snack even more.
  • Top whole grain toast with mashed avocado instead of butter. Then, add seasonings of your choice. For instance, if you like heat, you can add crushed red pepper flakes and if you like citrus, squeeze on some fresh lemon or lime juice.
  • Use it as a sandwich spread in place of mayo or mustard.
  • Snack on sliced avocado seasoned with fresh lime juice and a sprinkle of ground black pepper and kosher salt.
  • Blend up my refreshing Avocado Ice Pops for the perfect warm-weather treat.
  • Toss 1/2 cup into your dip for a rich and creamy consistency. Try my  Avocado Ranch Dip, which goes great with spicy Buffalo wings.
  • Substitute half or the full amount of mayonnaise in your deviled eggs with avocado.
  • Add ¼ of an avocado to your favorite smoothie recipe. It goes surprisingly well with cocoa!

Joy Bauer, MS, RDN, CDN, is the health and nutrition Expert for NBC’s Today Show and founder of Nourish Snacks.

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