Avocado a great addition to your daily diet

Avocado a great addition to your daily diet

I am so overjoyed that avocado season is back again writes Jenny Morris. The price is usually reduced during this time, the fruit is local and my mouth is happy. I really do believe an avo a day keeps the doctor away, although that phrase (unofficially, I believe) belongs to another fruit. Besides being a most delicious fruit that can be used in so many wonderful ways, avocado pears are extremely good for you.

It’s widely recognised that diet plays a vital role in helping to address high blood pressure, a leading cause of heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure and premature death. It’s estimated 6.3 million South Africans (or one in three people) suffer from this “silent killer”. While all vegetables and fruits are important in the low blood pressure diet, one stands out for meeting all the dietary criteria. You guessed it – it’s the avocado.

Blood pressure is the pressure of the blood in arteries that is needed to keep blood flowing through the body. High blood pressure (also known as hypertension) is when the blood vessels have persistently raised pressure.

Like many of the other risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood cholesterol, obesity, diabetes mellitus and cigarette smoking, high blood pressure can be prevented and successfully treated.

The first step is knowing what your blood pressure is, as about 50% of sufferers are unaware that they even have hypertension. The next step is relooking your diet. Well-known registered dietitian, Jane Badham, says high blood pressure can often be controlled by making simple lifestyle changes, such as adopting a healthy, balanced diet and a regular exercise regime.

“From a dietary perspective, the best approach to managing high blood pressure is to eat a diet high in fruit and vegetables (at least 5-a-day); wholegrains; beans and lentils; low-fat dairy and lean, unprocessed meats. A low salt and sugar intake together with appropriate portion sizes are also recommended,” explains Badham.

Although all fruit and vegetables contain potassium, avocados provide a significant dose of this important mineral. They are also low in sodium and free from cholesterol.

Avocado and the DASH diet

“The DASH diet – the Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension – is an eating plan that was specifically developed to address high blood pressure. Avocados meet all the criteria for this diet, in that they are naturally free from sodium, contribute to increased fruit and vegetable intake, and are a source of potassium – just half an avocado provides 420mg of potassium. In addition, their high monounsaturated fat content helps to reduce blood cholesterol levels and lowers the risk for heart disease when used to replace saturated and trans fats,” Badham adds.

Avos can be included as part of a healthy eating plan, and it’s with this in mind that the SA Avocado Growers’ Association (SAAGA) is encouraging all South Africans to ‘Add an Avo’ to their meals. The 2017 local Avo season has begun, so there’s no excuse not to stock up on home-grown avos!

Badham says foods that contain “bad” saturated fats can be substituted by replacing them with avos on sandwiches, burgers and in salads. She says avos can also be used to introduce “good” fats into your diet, by adding them to every meal as a tasty topper or side accompaniment.

For your information avocados are members of the Laurel family, which also includes the bay laurel and cinnamon tree. The avocado is a fruit, not a vegetable and can you believe it, a berry fruit on top of it. They are very baby friendly, so it’s a good snack to feed to babies – young and old.

I love that they are gluten free, dairy free, vegan, vegetarian and cholesterol-free. Did you know that they are one of the most inexpensive anti-aging tools for your skin?

The avocado is an Aztec symbol of love and fertility, and they also grow in pairs on trees.

If you want to quicken the ripening process, simply put one in brown paper bag for 2 to 4 days with a banana and they will be ready to eat before you know it.

Let’s cook!

Add an Avocado to your braai salad (Paleo/vegan/ gluten free)

Halve avocados and toss gently with cherry tomatoes, grilled sweetcorn, kidney beans, chopped chives and peppadews. Serve with a squeeze of lime juice and freshly ground black pepper.

For more avolicious recipes visit www.avocado.co.za.