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Nutrition: Adding Nuts and Avocados

heart_healthy_cooking_oilTwo food foods often vilified during the low fat diet days were nuts and avocado.  Their high fat and high calorie content dieters often discouraged their consumption.  However, more recently, since they are both excellent sources of “good” fats, they are popular again and should be included as a part of a healthy diet.  Specifically, nuts and avocados are rich in healthy monounsaturated oils, which have been shown to lower the risk for cardiovascular disease.  Research for the positive attributes nuts add to a diet is so strong, that Jeffery Bloomberg, a professor of Nutrition at Tufts University in Boston and one of the world’s authority’s on antioxidants, commented that “it really is at a point now where I think there is a large body of evidence and is – I would even say – a consensus of nuts being a healthful food choice if consumed in reasonable amounts.”

However, because of their high caloric content, some weight conscious dieters have continued to shy away from nut consumption.  Two recently published studies by the same researcher, Dr. Joan Sabat’e, chair of the Department of Nutrition at Loma Linda University in California, suggests that not only can nuts and avocados be included in a healthy diet; they might actually help people manage their weight. The first study, published in the online medical journal PLOS ONE, confirmed that those who ate the most tree nuts (almonds, Brazil nuts, pistachios and walnuts) about an ounce a day, had a lower risk for cardiovascular disease.   He found that they also had a significantly lower risk for obesity than those who consumed fewer nuts.  Please keep in mind that an ounce a day is still a relatively small amount of nuts, amounting to a small handful for most people.  If you get too liberal with your intake, the calories will begin to add up.

The second study, published in the Nutrition Journal, found that those who that consumed half a fresh avocado (125 calories) with their lunch, reported a significantly decreased urge to eat for as long as 5 hours after, compared to those who had a standard lunch with no avocado.  The addition of the avocado helped to stabilize blood sugar, ultimately helping to manage hunger.  This was a very small study, and funded by the Hass Avocado Board, but Dr. Sabat’e commented that “this leads us to believe that avocado’s potential role in blood sugar management is worth further investigation.”

For those who have been avoiding nuts and avocado, now might be the time to begin to incorporate them in back in to your diet in moderate (the amount mentioned above) amounts.  My favorite way of incorporating avocado in my diet is with one of H3’s recipes. It is a very simple salsa recipe and is absolutely delicious.  Enjoy!

Trio Huevos Avocado

Ingredients:

Avocado, pitted, cubed/diced          2 cups

Tomatoes diced                                   1 cup

Red Onion, finely diced                      2 T.

Cilantro, fresh chopped                     1 T.

Lime Juice, fresh                                  2 T.

Salt                                                          ¼ tspn.

40 calories per 4 T.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl; allow flavors to marinate for at least 15 – minutes before serving.

It is a great dip for cut veggies or pita chips, and topping for potatoes, eggs, and salads.

Will store safely in the refrigerator for up to a week, but will start to turn brownish in a couple of days. You can delay the browning process by covering tightly, keeping the pit in the salsa and adding a little more lime juice from time to time.

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