By Francisco T Rodriguez, DTR, CSUN Dietetic Intern
Now that football season has come to an end, you probably spent Sunday evening yelling, crying, and laughing hysterically at your television. Let’s now shift our focus from football and talk about the foods you ate. If you attended a football party, you were most likely surrounded by an array of delicious foods that you probably ate without hesitation and are now regretting such as Nachos, hot dogs, guacamole and chips, hamburgers- the list goes on. But before you feel guilty about Sunday’s splurge, let me brighten your day up just a little bit. There is a fruit that is loved by Americans that is usually eaten during football season, at gatherings, and in both fast food and health conscious restaurants. This fruit is everywhere and is currently in season. Can you guess what it is? AVOCADOS!!!
Avocados are so popular within the US that in 2017, the United States Department of Agriculture reported that Americans consumed on average over 7 pounds of avocados.[i] Holy Guacamole! That is a lot of avocados. The majority of avocados come from Mexico, but 90% of all US avocado production comes from California. Californians are actually the number one consumers of avocados within the US. Americans use avocados in guacamole and chips, in salsas, as a spread, in hamburgers, sandwiches, salads, sushi, and the list goes on. We as Americans have come to adopt the avocado as a major identity of our food culture. Now, why am I saying this and how does this relate to your health? Believe it or not, the avocado is considered a nutrient dense food that is packed with a large variety and amount of overall nutrients, including shortfall nutrients that can support overall health. To name a few, avocados are rich in fiber, monounsaturated fatty acids, and electrolytes.
One serving of avocado (about 1/4th of a cup) has approximately 2 grams of fiber. Fiber in general is a non-digestible dietary material that the human body cannot absorb. It is found in fresh fruits and vegetables like the skin of an apple or the exterior of a bean. Depending on the type of fiber, it has been known to reduce circulatory cholesterol, helps regulate the speed of glucose absorption, promotes microflora health, and helps with bowel regularity. In 2014, a meta-analysis concluded that higher fiber intake was inversely associated with the risk of Type 2 Diabetes.[ii] Several factors contribute to the reduction of Type 2 Diabetes including early satiety, reduced gastric emptying, increased nutrient absorption, and overall greater length of fullness. Current dietary fiber recommendations are 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men.[iii] Consuming foods rich in fiber like avocados are beneficial and recommended.
Monounsaturated Fatty Acids
Not all fats were created equal. Avocados contain approximately 2.9 grams of Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFA) per serving.[iv] One meta-analysis recommends avocado consumption for pregnant mothers, breast feeding mothers, and babies weening off breast milk. Considering that avocados contain several shortfall nutrients necessary for proper human development, the authors of the study suggest that the avocado is an excellent complementary food for babies during the weening stage.[v]
There are several electrolytes that are found within avocados like Vitamin A and E, but one important vitamin to consider is potassium. Avocados are packed with 152mg of potassium per serving. If you thought bananas were the only fruit rich with potassium, think again. Studies show that a diet rich in potassium could help reduce the risk of coronary artery disease, kidney disease, and high blood pressure. [vi]
There are several ways to introduce avocados into your daily meals that will enhance flavor while adding nutrients. One recipe I like to use as a morning meal is toast with garlic avocado spread.
Garlic Avocado Spread on Toast
- 2 tablespoons plain greek yogurt
- 1 small medium avocado
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- Dash of pepper (chili powder if you dare)
- ½ squeezed lime
- Blend all ingredients together.
- Toast one whole wheat slice of bread and spread 2 tablespoons of the Garlic Avocado Spread onto the toast. Now you are ready to start your day feeling satisfied.
Resources on CSUN Campus
Every Tuesday from 10:00am-2:00pm, CSUN hosts a Farmer’s Market where a variety of local seasonal fruits and vegetables, occasionally avocados, can be purchased. Along with purchasing your avocados, come visit the nutrition experts. We are located in a booth at the farmers market supported by the Marilyn Magaram Center. We can provide you with further nutritional information regarding fruits, vegetables, proteins, fats, and your overall nutritional health. Don’t be shy, stop by and say hi.
Want more breakfast toast recipes in your life? Check out our Breakfast Toast Tutorial to get inspiration for fast and easy toast options.
[i] Avocado imports play a significant role in meeting growing U.S. demand. (n.d.). Retrieved January 31, 2018, from https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/chart-gallery/gallery/chart-detail/?chartId=83396
[ii] Yao, Baodong, Fang, Hong, Xu, Wanghong, Yan, Yujie, Xu, Huilin, Liu, Yinan, . . . Zhao, Yanping. (2014). Dietary fiber intake and risk of type 2 diabetes: A dose–response analysis of prospective studies. European Journal of Epidemiology, 29(2), 79-88.
[iii] What is Fiber? (n.d.). Retrieved January 31, 2018, from http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/vitamins-and-supplements/nutrient-rich-foods/fiber
[iv] Ndb.nal.usda.gov. (2018). Food Composition Databases Show Foods — Avocados, raw, California. [online] Available at: https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2157?fgcd=&manu=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=50&offset=&sort=default&order=asc&qlookup=Avocados&ds=&qt=&qp=&qa=&qn=&q=&ing= [Accessed 1 Feb. 2018].
[v] Comerford, K., Ayoob, K., Murray, R., & Atkinson, S. (2016). The Role of Avocados in Maternal Diets during the Periconceptional Period, Pregnancy, and Lactation. Nutrients, 8(5), Nutrients, 2016, Vol.8(5)
[vi] Weaver, C. (2013). Potassium and health. Advances in Nutrition (Bethesda, Md.), 4(3), 368S-77S.