Avocado is a fruit grown in warm regions of the world and is a valued ingredient in several dishes worldwide.
Commonly called pear (or pay) in Ghana, avocado is a delicious accompaniment to many meals such as waakye, kenkey, ampesi and salads when in season. Regarding its nutritional composition, avocado contains monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), dietary fibre, essential nutrients and phytochemicals.
The green and yellow colour of the flesh of the avocado fruit comes from antioxidants such as beta-carotene (precursor of vitamin A), lutein and zeaxanthin. Antioxidants are substances that prevent cell damage and may protect against the development of diseases such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Owing to being rich in a number of important nutrients such as folate, vitamin E and vitamin C, the avocado fruit has often been referred to as a nutrition powerhouse. It is also a good source of two types of dietary fibre; soluble and insoluble fibre.
Soluble fibre helps lower blood cholesterol by, binding to cholesterol in the intestines and preventing it from being absorbed into the bloodstream. Insoluble fibre helps prevent constipation by retaining fluid to from bulky stools which you pass more quickly.
The type of fats in avocado are also worthy of mention. The avocado fruit is a good source of monounsaturated fatty acids; the good fat which lowers LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) and raises the HDL (good cholesterol). T.
A few studies have looked at consumption of avocado and its relationship with health. One large US study conducted from 2001-2008 found that people who ate avocado had significantly high intakes of vegetables and fruits and that avocado consumption was associated with improved overall diet quality, nutrient intake, and reduced risk of metabolic syndrome.
(1). Another study has advocated for the use of avocado as a complementary food for weaned infants and young children.
(2). This is because of its nutritionally unique characteristics when compared to other fruits. The avocado fruit is lower in sugar and higher in fibre and monounsaturated fatty acids than many other fruits, and they also have the right consistency, texture and neural flavour for use as first foods for infants during weaning.
(3). Although a good source of a wide variety of nutrients and good fats, avocados need to be eaten in moderation due to its high fat content compared to other fruits and vegetables.
This means avocado is high in energy (calories) and if eaten in excess can lead to unwanted weight gain. If you eat avocados regularly, consider reducing the amounts, fats and oils in the rest of your diet to avoid exceeding your recommended intake for fat.
To learn more about different fats and appropriate levels to include in your diet log on to www.foodinfocus.org