I had a sneaking suspicion that my cholesterol results weren’t as good as usual because I had become an avocado slacker, so I went to the Internet to see what scientists have to say.
I was probably right. Little else in my eating or exercise habits had changed. Just as important, I did find scientific backing for my opinion.
While there used to be concern about the calorie content of avocados (more about that in a minute), U.S. government nutritionists now consider the cholesterol-lowering benefits of the avocado to balance or outweigh the calorie count. (1)
Here’s why: researchers have found that the avocado is high in beta-sitosterol, a natural substance that lowers levels of low-density cholesterol while raising levels of high density cholesterol. Clinical tests support the theory. 2)
One average-sized eight ounce avocado would add about 175 calories to your diet but if you spread your avocado-eating over a week or substitute avocado fat for other fats, you’ll be getting the benefit without affecting your daily fat intake much. To be specific, 100 grams (about four ounces) of avocado adds 20 grams of fat content to your diet. In that average avocado, part of the weight comes from seed and skin.
How to treat an avocado: to check whether an avocado is ripe, see if it yields to gentle but firm pressure. If it isn’t ripe yet, put it in a paper bag for a day or two. Do not refrigerate it! When it is ripe, then it can go in the refrigerator. After cutting into an avocado, cover the cut section tightly with plastic wrap. To prevent browning from the iron content of the avocado, wipe the cut part with lemon juice. Then it’s ready for the refrigerator.
Here are tips on adding avocado to your diet in a healthy way:
Instead of spreading margarine or butter on your bread, (3)
use mashed avocado instead. This trick lowers your “bad fat” intake in two ways. Besides its beta-sitosterol content, the fat in an avocado is mostly monounsaturated fat (good) as compared with the mostly saturated fat (bad) in butter or hydrogenated margarine.
Avocado, in slices, gives dash to a salad.
Do as Mexicans do, top green pozole soup (or any variety of chicken soup) with avocado slices or eat a small portion of guacamole.
In other parts of the world, Jamaicans make a cold avocado soup. avocados, Nigerians stuff them with cheese and fry them-undoubtedly tasty, but not recommended as a cholesterol-lowering technique!
(1) www.medicinenet.com/script/main/cert.asp?articlekey=50717 [WebMD]