Avocados + Heart Health

Posted on February 16th, 2018

February is American Heart Month and with heart disease topping the causes of deaths for Americans what better time than now to talk about some of those heart healthy foods!? While no one specific food is going to cause heart disease, no one specific is going to cure or prevent it either. Important lifestyle factors including not using tobacco products, regular physical exams, exercising, maintaining a healthy weight, and consuming an overall nutritious diet which consists of healthy fats, getting enough fiber, and watching your sodium intake are all key to prevention.

And while we could dive in and talk about all of the important nutritional aspects when it comes to heart health, I think the word ‘fat’ confuses the majority of people. A lot of times when we hear that word we tend to shy away from eating those foods for the fear that the fat found in food translates into fat into our bodies. Any food in excess can lead to weight gain so this should not be a reason to turn away from some fatty foods. I have GREAT news for you, not all fats are the same and some fats are in fact terrific for our bodies and heart! Not only can these healthy fats be good for our hearts but they can also satisfy your hunger and allow you to enjoy some really delicious foods without feeling deprived. Plus, fat helps us to absorb certain vitamins which are important to our health, brain health, and

Good or healthy fats are typically considered to be monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. When these two fats are consumed in the replacement of saturated or trans fats (the not so great fats) you can actually see improvement in your cholesterol levels and even reduce your risk for cardiovascular events (like stroke and heart attack). And since our bodies can’t make some of the essential fatty acids they need, it is important we get them from the foods we eat.

There are several foods that can help supply you with those heart healthy fats like olive oil, salmon, nuts, seeds, and one of my personal favorites…. avocado! Did you know only one third of an avocado can supply you with 5 grams of monounsaturated fats and 1 gram of polyunsaturated fat? And while the amount of grams of fat you need varies based on how many calories you need, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that about 10% of calories come from fat, especially those heart healthy fats. Not only do avocados contain healthy fats but they also have 3 grams of fiber (in one third of a medium avocado) and no sugar, cholesterol, or sodium. All great things for your heart!

With avocados creamy taste and palatable texture they are so easily incorporated into the meals you are already making at home. I think we all know about eating avocados by themselves (I am guilty of this!) or in guacamole but did you know that they are great to top on baked potatoes, soups, or chili? Or even better swapped into a favorite dessert recipe for a healthier twist, blended into a smoothie, or as a spread on a sandwich or toast.

AVOCADO TIPS:

  • To find the perfect avocado just give it a gentle squeeze at the store. A firm or hard feeling avocado (usually bright green in color) will still need time to ripen (great if you are not planning to use them right away), a medium firmness can be used the same day or allowed to wait a couple days, and a very soft avocado (usually dark green in color) is ripe and ready to use right away (perfect for that last minute party you are making guac for).
  • Does the store only have firm avocados and you need sooner rather than later? Throw them in a brown paper bag with some bananas to speed up the ripening process.
  • Cutting into an avocado is a cinch, slice them in half, twist, remove the seed, cut the fruit as you like (sliced or diced) and pull or push out of the peel!

For more recipes or information about avocados, check out the Avocados from Mexico website. 

We would like to also like to thank Avocados from Mexico for being a sponsor for our 5th annual Weight Loss Challenge. Reasor’s Registered Dietitian was not paid to endorse their products (or any products for that matter) and her opinions are of her own. Information included in this blog post does not constitute as medical advice.

 

Heather Steele, RD/LD is Reasor’s Registered Dietitian and loves to garden, cook, and ride her bike! Heather offices out of the Reasor’s off 71st & Lynn Lane and is here for all of your food & nutrition needs.