If you love avocados as much as I do, you'll be delighted to learn that this delicious fruit (yes, avocado is actually classified as a fruit, not a vegetable) is excellent for your bone health. So good that maybe we should change that old saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” to “An avocado a day keeps osteoporosis away.”
Don't take that too literally – of course you need more than avocados to regain and maintain your bone health, but regular consumption of avocados is certainly a step in the right direction.
Can you believe that avocados were once thought of as a tasteless food? It's true. Although avocados have been cultivated in Central and South American since around 8,000 B.C., early Aztecs used avocados more for their healing properties than their taste. I find it amazing that anyone could think avocados don't have an amazingly rich flavor!
Great Bone Health Benefits
Avocados contain a good helping of several Foundation Supplements (the supplements I refer to as essential for bone health in the Osteoporosis Reversal Program):
- Vitamin K, which works in synergy with Vitamin D to help regulate osteoclast production (osteoclasts remove old bone to make way for new bone deposits). You can read more about this important nutrient in “Vitamin K: Your Osteoporosis Knight in Shining Armor”.
- Vitamin C, a potent antioxidant that's crucial for the production of collagen, a protein that maintains – among other things – healthy bones and cartilage.
- Boron, a trace mineral involved in bone metabolism and Vitamin D activity that reduces the amount of urinary calcium and magnesium excretion.
- Copper, a multi-tasking mineral present in an enzyme that produces collagen and elastin.
- Folate (folic acid), one of the B vitamins.
Other Important Nutrients
In today's society, most diets contain way too much sodium. Avocados are an excellent source of potassium, which is essential for balancing sodium intake.
And one cup of sliced avocado contains over 7 grams of fiber!
They're also a source of Omega 3 fatty acids, – yet another Foundation Supplement – which offer many health benefits, including increasing calcium absorption and deposition. And despite the common perception that carotenoids are found mostly in carrots, tomatoes, and other orange and red vegetables, avocados are a fantastic storehouse of potent antioxidant carotenoids including lutein, beta-carotene, and alpha-carotene.
But Aren't They Fattening?
Have you been avoiding avocados because you think they're too high in fat? Well, you can put that myth to rest. Avocados do have a high fat content – in fact, that's the reason they've been given the nickname “butter pears” in some circles. But most of the fat in an avocado is monounsaturated. That's the “good” fat that's been shown to lower cholesterol levels and provide numerous other health benefits.
Even if you're watching your weight, there's room for avocados in your diet. When you have the urge to spread butter on your toast, try adding a bit of mashed avocado instead.
Avocado Peeling Trick
If you've ever been frustrated trying to peel an avocado, here's a trick for you:
- Cut the avocado in half (lengthwise) with a stainless steel knife.
- If the pit doesn't want to come out, just give the two halve a bit of a twist in opposite directions.
- Slice each avocado half lengthwise, so you end up with four slices.
- With your thumb and index finger, just peel the skin away from the flesh (just like peeling a banana).
Voila! A neatly peeled avocado that retains most of the flesh closest to the skin, the part that has the most antioxidants.
Buying and Storing Avocados
Look for avocados that are just slightly soft to the touch, but avoid any that have cracks or sunken, discolored areas. If you're not going to use the avocados right away, you can buy firmer fruits and let them ripen at home. An unripe avocado will usually ripen in a few days; if you'd like to speed up the process, simply put it in a paper bag.
You can keep a ripe avocado in the refrigerator for about a week. It's best to cut avocados only when you're ready to use them, as the flesh starts to brown when it's exposed to air. Tip: Sprinkling an avocado with lemon juice delays the browning process.
To store a cut avocado, sprinkle the surfaces with lemon juice and wrap it.
This Hodgepodge is a Treat!
The following recipe is one of my favorite ways to enjoy avocados. It's almost 100% alkalizing – the only acidifying ingredient is the cheese.
1 head Romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
3 pears – peeled, cored and chopped
5 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (substitute with grated parmesan or your favorite cheese)
1 avocado – peeled, pitted, and diced (sprinkle a little lemon juice right away to prevent browning)
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/2 cup almonds, slivered or chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey (optional)
1 clove garlic, chopped
Black pepper to taste
Toss all the ingredients together and enjoy.
Keep spoiling your taste buds… and nourishing your bones!