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February, 2012

Avocados

By Cheryl Forberg


It is important to recognize which fats are the “good” fats and which are the “bad” ones.

When trying to lose those unwanted pounds, many people limit their fat intake to an extreme. However, the truth is, we need some fat in our diet. It is important to recognize which fats are the “good” fats and which are the “bad” ones.

All fat is rich in calories. Fat gets its bad reputation from the fact that it is high in calories, and because some fats, such as the saturated fats found in meat and whole milk dairy products, and the trans fats found in many processed and fried foods, can increase artery-blocking LDL (bad) cholesterol and contribute to heart disease and high blood pressure.

Some fats, however, are good for the body. In fact, our bodies require them. Avocados are one of those foods that contain healthy fats, and many times it’s overlooked as a “good for you” food. Over 75% of the fat in avocados is unsaturated fat. This kind of fat actually offers health benefits! They not only lower LDL in our bodies, they boost levels of HDL, the good cholesterol that helps evacuate LDL via the liver.

When people are trying to lose weight, many times they are unaware of how many calories they’re getting from condiments alone. Spreads, salad dressings, oils used in cooking…they add up fast and many times don’t offer any health benefits. One of my favorite “swaps” is the healthy avocado.

Avocados are also high in the plant chemical called lutein, which helps to promote eye health. Lutein is stored in the macula of the eye and helps decrease our risk for macular degeneration.

Haas Avocado

Avocados are rich in flavor and texture, so a little bit goes a long way! They provide a satisfying texture and mouth-feel and also promote satiety or fullness. Avocados are a great swap for mayo on a sandwich, and compared to mayo or butter they are a much better fat!

Two Tablespoons (about 2-3 thin slices) of avocado has 50 calories and only 0.5 grams of saturated fat, whereas 2 Tablespoons of butter has 200 calories and over 14 grams of saturated fat! That’s a huge difference.

Yes, we need to remember that good fats are a concentrated source of calories and as such, we need to limit them. But it's important to make room for good fats in our diet, whether or not you're trying to lose weight.

Here is a recipe for a yummy spread that can be swapped for mayo or other high saturated fat sandwich spreads:

Asian Avo “Mayo”
This “mayo” is a delicious way to enjoy a creamy rich spread on your sandwich while using only good fats and a fraction of the calories of mayonnaise. It is also a perfect accompaniment to sashimi or a tasty dip for small rice crackers; or use a dollop in place of sliced avocado in the Tortilla Soup with Avocados (page 000).

Asian Avo “Mayo”

Makes ¾ cup

1 ripe Hass Avocado, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons Warm Water
2½ teaspoons Rice Vinegar
2 teaspoons Pickled Sushi Ginger, chopped
1 teaspoon Low-Sodium Soy Sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
½ teaspoon Toasted Sesame Oil

Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor or blender and purée until smooth. Transfer to a small jar and refrigerate. Keeps refrigerated for 2 days.

Per tablespoon: 25 calories, 2 g total fat (0 g saturated), 0 mg cholesterol, 10 mg sodium, 1 g total carbohydrates (0 g sugars), 0 g fiber, 0 g protein