Avocados: They're a Delicious and Heart Healthy Addition to a Balanced Diet
Avocados are the latest food trend both for healthy eaters and foodies. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans are now eating almost four times as many avocados today than in the mid-1990s. However you choose to eat them, they taste great and have the added bonus of being great for your health.
“Avocados offer a lot of vitamins and nutrients,” says Megan Ramaika, MA, RD, LDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist at Crozer-Keystone Health. “They are packed with nutritional value that can give your body what it needs to be its best.”
Along with being nutritious, avocados can be good for your heart and blood pressure, too.
Avocados have almost 20 vitamins, minerals and nutrients. These include vitamin E, vitamin C, folate, fiber, iron, potassium, and lutein.
“Each of these nutrients can help improve various areas of your health,” says Ms. Ramaika. “Nutrients found in avocados can preserve your bone health, eye health and help to repair cells.”
Avocados can also help keep your heart healthy. While they do contain fat, it is a type of fat known as monounsaturated fat—which is good for your heart. Having a diet that includes a mix of vegetables and fruits that are high in monounsaturated fats can reduce your risk of heart disease.
The nutrient boosting fruit may also help manage your blood pressure. Avocados are full of potassium, which can help keep your blood pressure in check. Eating potassium-packed foods like avocados can help you reach the recommended daily value and fight off the negative impact that salt can have on your blood pressure.
“Plant-based foods like avocados that have a lot of antioxidants can fight cell damage that leads to disease,” says Ms. Ramaika. “People should aim to consume upwards of two and a half cups of fruits and vegetables a day. Aiming to have two-thirds of plant food on your plate each meal is a good way to help reach that goal.”
Eating Avocados Right
With avocados being very popular right now, there are many ways to work in the nutritious food into your diet. One tip, however, is to not eat too much of it.
“While avocados do have a lot of good nutrients, they also have a lot of calories. The recommended serving size is a fifth of a medium avocado (or one ounce) which is 50 calories. A whole avocado is about 250 calories,” says Ms. Ramaika. “Adding avocado to a poor diet will not give you as many health benefits.”
When you buy an avocado, store it at room temperature. Wait four to five days before eating as it will need time to ripen. Be sure to clean any utensils you use to cut open or prepare the avocado to avoid getting bacteria on the fruit. With these tips in mind, adding avocados to your diet can be a tasty way to get great nutrients.