Latest information on avocado and nuts

by Dr. D. P. Atukorale
As there is some confusion in the minds of some readers including some dieticians (nutritionists) and some doctors, I am reproducing what I gathered by visiting the official website of American Dietetic Association (ADA) which is the most recognized Association of the registered dieticians of U.S.A. The readers who wish to get further information on above topic can visit the website www.eatright.com

Avocados are one of the nature’s whole foods — a natural for today’s healthy lifestyles. This power packed fruit has just 5 grams of fat per serving. Majority of the fat is mono-unsaturated the same type found in olive oil, which studies have shown may increase HDL (good) cholesterol but has little effect on LDL (bad) cholesterol.

Betasitosteral is an important phytosterol found in fruits — High phytosterol intake has been linked with lower blood cholesterol levels.

Among all commonly eaten fruits orange and avocados contain the most betasiterosterol and contain at least twice the amount of phytosterol found in other foods including corn, green soya beans and olives.

Glutathione, a phytochemical found in fruits and vegetables, acts as an anti-oxidant. Anti-oxidants help the body by mopping up the free radicals that are known to play a role in the development of heart disease and some cancers. Avocados may be one of the best fruit sources of glutathione which may offer some protection against oral, throat and other types cancer.

Additional health benefits of Avocados

Avocados along with other fruits and vegetables are nutrient dense in vitamin E and C anti-oxidants that help promote healthy teeth and gums and protect tissues from oxidant damage.

Folate is another important nutrient that promotes healthy cell and tissue development. Consuming enough folate is essential for pregnant women and women of child bearing age. Avocados contain more folate per ounce than other fruits.

Potassium is a mineral that helps the body and other life-essential minerals stay in balance. The richest fruit sources of potassium are avocados and bananas.

A nutty addition to healthy diet

Enjoying a handful of nuts is a pleasure for most people. But the thought of fat may keep some from savouring that pleasure.

Nuts are high in fat, but the fat in most nuts is healthy mono- unsaturated fat which can help lower blood cholesterol. Good sources of mono-unsaturated fats includes pea-nuts, pecane, walnuts and almonds.

In addition research studies have shown that many different nuts are helpful in reducing the risk of cancer and elevated blood pressure.

Nuts also provide proteins, carbohydrates and wide variety of vitamins and minerals.

But there is more. New research shows that eating plans which include nuts are more satisfying, leading people to eat less and control their weight. So enjoy nuts in your eating plan. The key is watching your serving sizes.

Nuts are high in calories due to their fat content, but with a little planning, nuts can fit very nicely into calorie-balanced eating plan. If you want to add nuts for nutritional benefits, try cutting back on calories elsewhere.

An ounce of nuts can vary from seven walnuts to 22 almonds and has 170 calories. That is the equivalent of one 14 ounce soda, a few small cookies, one and a half cups of potato chips or two and a half tablespoons of Italian dressing. Making these changes is worth the extra nutrients nuts provide.

Nuts are an excellent source of proteins, vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and healthy unsaturated fat.

Try nuts in green salads, on top of baked potatoes, mixed with vegetables, and toasted grains. Nuts are easy to carry which makes them a good choice for snacks.

Nuts are high in calories; so don’t go nuts eating them. Try and mix them with other foods to keep the calories down and still allow for enjoyment.

The Harvard heart letter published by Harvard medical school noted various health benefits of nuts. Nuts have a unique nutritive composition and it is plausible that they would favourably affect heart disease risk factors and interfere with the development of plaques in the arteries and fats in the nuts can lower the cholesterol and improve the ratio between LDL and HDL cholesterol and thereby lower the risk of heart disease.