My oldest daughter just told me that avocados are her favorite food. Here is why this makes me very happy.
To provide some context, she is in her Junior year of high school. You know, the notoriously pressure-packed year overloaded with advanced placement courses, talk of transcripts, grade point averages, standardized testing and college visits. Although avocados can’t miraculously take all the stress away, they certainly can help give her and other students the tools to stay healthy and focused as they manage it.
- Avocados are packed with healthy fatty acids. One serving (about 1/5th of a large avocado) contains about 6 grams of heart healthy fatty acids. Likewise, avocados are a good source of dietary fiber. The fiber and the fat help reduce insulin resistance and stabilize blood sugars throughout the day allowing teens to stay focused and fueled avoiding the brain fog that comes with low blood sugar.
- Avocados have been associated with a decreased risk for metabolic syndrome as published in a seven year study in the 2013 Nutrition Journal. Metabolic syndrome is characterized by increases in weight, blood pressure, and blood cholesterol. People who sit for extended periods of time are at increased risk for metabolic syndrome. Students often get caught sitting for hours on end as they study and prepare for exams. To help reduce risk, encourage your student to eat healthy foods like avocados and take walk/stretch breaks every hour.
- Avocados are packed with antioxidants that protect against reactive oxygen species that damage all the cells in our body. Two of these antioxidants are lutein and zeaxanthin. These nutrients will help protect the eyes of high school students, who can develop eye strain from staring at computer screens and books.
- The polyphenols, phytonutrients and potassium in avocados help to lower blood pressure, improve blood flow and protect the brain. These kids need every bit of brain power they can get as more and more is being expected of them.
- The folate, healthy fats and tannins in avocados may help reduce inflammation, boost immunity and reduce risk of depression. Teen depression is on the rise with an estimated one in five teens suffering from depression. Low folate and B12 intake are associated with increased homocysteine levels in the blood. Elevated homocysteine interferes with the production of feel good hormones and disrupts sleep, something many of our teens are deprived in already. The anti-inflammatory benefits of the tannins and the omega 3 fats help to bolster the immune system which helps keep kids healthy, in school and ready to learn.
Avocados are a versatile fruit which often makes them pleasing to a lot of people. Here are some suggested ways to enjoy them:
- A great breakfast option, that my youngest daughter turned us on to is avocado toast. Top whole grain toast or a whole grain bagel with slices of avocado, tomato, and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- For a great study break treat, whip up a smoothie by blending one-fifth ripe avocado, one cup unsweetened frozen blueberries, one-half frozen banana, one tablespoon chia seeds and one-half to one cup tart cherry (or other unsweetened) juice. Blend all ingredients until smooth and creamy.
- Use an avocado as a replacement fat for mayonnaise and dressings on sandwiches and burgers.
- Try my middle daughters favorite avocado snack which is two diced avocados, one diced fresh mango, two tablespoons chopped cilantro, one-fourth cup fresh lime juice, salt and pepper, all mixed together for an avocado, mango salsa.
The list seems endless on the health benefits of avocados. Luckily, there are a ton of ways to enjoy them!