Avocado fat like olive oil is pure, healthy food.
Let's start with a short tour of the fats, because they get bad press. They make us fat, right, so we should cut as many out as possible. That's wrong; a big mistake.
Sixty percent of the brain is fat, and all nerves are coated in a fatty myelin sheath. Cut out all the fat in your diet and you'll die. Cut out the essential fatty acids and you'll get very, very sick. Motor neuron disease for example is associated with a combination of a high carbohydrate and low fat diet.
Saturated fats in the main come from animal sources such as red meat, butter, cream and eggs. Cholesterol is a saturated fat, but note that it's mainly the low density lipoprotein that is bad for us; and the high density cholesterol is associated with protection against heart and blood vessel disease. Your dietary goal should be to have high blood HDL.
The hormones and neurotransmitters in your brain are made from cholesterol. You can't live without it; it's not all bad.
Avocado fat is rich in the queen of oils, the mono unsaturated fatty acids.
Cholesterol is also high in coconut oil, and we'll look at that in another page. Suffice it to say, it's controversial; high in cholesterol, but bad for your health? There's a strong case to be made for doing all our high temperature frying with saturated fats; butter and coconut and palm oil, and those high in mono unsaturated fatty acids, for example, from the olive and avocado. Only the latter will not give you high temperatures.
Olive and avocado fat have a high stability when heated which makes them perfect for frying and baking. They are excellent for the barbecue too since most common vegetable oils such as sunflower are high in polys which tend to oxidize on hot surfaces and the open flames used in outdoor cooking. Monos are far more stable.
Unsaturated fats come from fish, seed oils and fruit oils. They are healthy, but there are a few very large question marks.
Unsaturated fats come in two types; both are good.
Oleic acid is the main ingredient in myelin, the lining of your nerves.
Mono unsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs)
Poly unsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs)
But I: Seed oils are solvent extracted at high temperatures and because polys are heat labile they are easily oxidised, producing cancer-causing free radicals. Never use sunflower or canola oil for high temperature frying and baking, for example. If you can find cold-pressed seed oils, then by all means enjoy them, but still not in high temperature cooking.
But II: The ratio of polys / monos in your diet should not be too high. In Mediterranean islands like Crete, where olive oil (read MONOS) consumption is very high, have very low rates of heart disease. It's true, they eat more fish, fruit and veg, but even after taking that into account, plus the lower levels of stress, it's strongly agreed amongst food scientists that olive oil (read MONOs) is the reason why the Greek islanders are so healthy. (Keys Seven Country study.) So, avos too.
General Rule: Polys
are good, in fact essential in the diet, but keep your purchases of
Canola and sunflower oil to a minimum, and NEVER use them for frying. Canola is controversial for many reasons. Google it.
frying use butter and perhaps coconut oil and (it's wasteful, perhaps) olive
oil. Keep your cholesterol down by eating healthy amounts of those
FOODS THAT LOWER CHOLESTEROL
ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS (EFA)
There are two fatty acids that we cannot live without. Deny yourself and you will be stunted and die; literally. Their names are Linoleic and Alpha Linolenic acid. Both are Polys and both are found in adequate amounts in avocados, olives and sunflower oil.
For more information, type essential fatty acids into Google and go to Wikipedia; it's complex biochemistry.
But you can relax on that score.
On an average diet, even if you're food junkie, we get plenty of total essential fats. What's in short supply is the alpha linolenic acid, a vital omega 3 oil that the body can convert to the other ω-3, DHA and EPA.
So, how much omega 3 is there in avocado fat?
I hope you noticed that sunflower oil, olive oil and margarine all have zero omega 3; it's the anti inflammatory fat and is absolutely vital.
The richest source is fish oil and the best vegetable source is flax seed. Scroll down for more information. But avocados are also rich in the omega 3, alpha linolenic acid.
A cup of avocado weighing 150g contains 0.18g of omega 3 fatty acids, alpha linolenic acid. That's less than 10 percent of the omega 3 in a tablespoon of flaxseeds, but it all helps.
Olive oil has other strongly anti inflammatory properties, but not from omega 3.
To sum up...
Fats are essential in the diet, but we need to eat more of the healthy fats (olive oil, avocado fat, cold-pressed sunflower oil (if you can find it), and fish oil and flaxseed oil or the omega 3.
Where possible enjoy the whole food rather than the extracted oils. Olive oil is the possible exception as it's not solvent extracted; still whole olives are wonderful with the fibre and all the phytosterols.
And less of the LDL cholesterol-rich animal fats in red meat and dairy products and eggs. (Not cut them all out, just less of them.)
The richest, cheapest source of healthy mono unsaturated fatty acids is the avocado. Avocado oil (in the whole avo) is extremely healthy but, yes, avocado calories are a problem if you pig out.
An average Hass avocado weighs about 8oz, so after removal of the skin and the pit, the flesh of half an avocado might weigh a little less than 100g (say about 3.5oz):
Avocado fat = ± 0.6oz (17g)
Avocado calories = ± 177 calories. (100ml milk 156 calories)
Avocado protein = ± 2g (a 100ml glass of milk contains 3g)
Avocado cholesterol = 0 (100ml milk 10mg)
More details at
Oleic acid, the mono which is high in the olive and avocado has been shown to have an anti-cancer effect. (BCR 2010, 12:211). It's also the fatty acid that forms the myelin sheath around nerves; hence my interest as a chiropractor. Demyelinating diseases like MS and a deficiency of a oleic acid affect nerve conduction.
AVOCADO AND SPINACH SOUP
One of the things that I love about
"she who must be obeyed's" innovative and delicious cooking is her
willingness to try something new. Last night she made an old
favourite, a very healthy spinach soup. And slipped in half an avo
without telling us! Nobody could believe just how good a spinach soup
could taste! I'll twist her arm for the recipe. Yes, it raised the avocado fat calories, but again healthy fat. Fat your brains and nerves thrive on.
Spinach is rich in anti-cancer substances called phytosterols. Avocados too, are one of the richest sources of beta-sitosterol (0.5%), a phytosterol associated with many healthy benefits, including the treatment of Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy, a nasty problem of older men.
Avocado contains 76mg of beta-sitosterol per 100g of raw edible avo, or 132mg in a typical 173g Hass. (K Duester J Am Dietetic Assoc).
Citrus, the next richest source of fruit beta-sitosterol contains only 1/4 of that in an avocado.
Avocado is richer than Saw Palmetto (more than double) the usual source for Beta-Sitosterol in capsules. An even better source is maize, so enjoy your corn on the cob. Olive oil has about half the amount of beta-sitosterol of avocado fat.
Aside: The pharmaceutical industry loves to find natural substances, put them in a tablet, and sell them to you at 1000x the cost. Don't buy beta-sitosterol, just eat avocados, maize and use olive oil. And don't wait until you have BPH - an ounce of prevention... What are phytosterols ...
There is anecdotal evidence that eating more protein and fat for breakfast lessens the desire for a 10am snack. Traditionally, folk would have an egg, or cheese but these are high in cholesterol.
Half an avocado for breakfast, and either a
chickpea dish like hummus, or a bean or lentil dish, rich in vegetable
protein, with added olive oil would fit the bill.
AUTHENTIC HUMMUS RECIPE ... make it only 4 minutes.
Avocado growing countries are experimenting with producing virgin avocado oil from second grade avocados, cold pressed like virgin olive oil, but it's still rather expensive. It's easier to eat half an avocado. I'm going to start experimenting with using avocado for a smoothie for breakfast!
There's interesting research coming out, and interest in the Banting diet, that it's carbohydrate that stimulates the hunger centre in the brain. Folk on low carb diets have more energy and less hunger pangs; and lose weight more successfully.
VITAMIN E and the Prostate gland
There is quite strong research suggesting that you should obtain your vitamin E from natural whole foods, cold pressed fats and freshly ground grains rather than taking it in capsule form. A whole avocado contains more than a quarter of the required daily amount.
For example, taking alpha tocopherol, the most common form of vitamin E in capsules, inhibits the absorption of gamma tocopherol, the vitamin E that gives 5 times protection against prostate cancer.
Little is known about six additional forms of vitamin E, but it seems likely they are all important, and taking large quantities of one form would inhibit the absorption of others.
Recent research suggests that taking pure alpha vitamin E may actually increase the risk of prostate cancer.
However, that's only one problem for pill poppers. It's well known, and researched, that it's the gamma vitamin E that gives protection against prostate cancer.
But in nature, like in avocado fat, there is a mixture of the alpha and gamma forms of vitamin E, and probably the other six too, giving the known protection, over and above the beta sitosterol.
you are taking vitamin E capsules, make sure it's not pure
alpha tocopherol. Rather eat an avocado a day; it's the healthy fat which is cheaper, safer and more
effective with no known side effects.
Avocado fat along with the olive comes from a fruit tree.
There's intense interest currently in the scientific world about a carotenoid called lutein. It has a yellow colour due to it's property of absorbing the high energy blue light that may damage the eye. It's very rich in avocados.
The research is centering around the affect of lutein supplementation in the diet; better still, eat more avocado. Early signs are promising that lutein may be beneficial in macular degeneration and retinitis pigementosa.
Lutein is only absorbed in the presence of fat in the intestine; it's yet another reason why high carbohydrate, low fat diets are proving so dangerous. Oddly, it's refined carbohydrate and sugar that makes us fat, not fat; unless you really pig out. Our dogs certainly put on weight in the avo season, but then if eat five to ten a day, what would you expect?
Beware though; the food industry adds lutein to chicken feed to trick you into thinking the eggs are healthier and free range. Feed the chickens avocados by all means and you'll have delicious yellow yolks. But add synthetically made lutein? Not I, said the little red hen.
Mojo have been added by Spaniards to their food for ever to dicky up any dish that is either dull in itself, or becomes boring after eating continuously.
Let's be honest, there are many foods that we know we should eat but for one reason or another our taste buds don't hanker after them; enter the mojos.
In the main they consist of garlic, olive oil and either lemon juice or white wine vinegar. In the case of mojo de aguacate, they add some avocado fat. It's simply divine with a perhaps dull green salad, but enjoy it on the side with any dish.
I like the stick blender because it's easier to clean, but you could use a food processor. Add a bit of chili if you like it spicy.
Autumn veggie garden is when we really get excited; it's the season of mellow fruitfulness, and it includes the first avocados beginning to ripen.
Even our dogs and the hens too love the avocado fat of any that pass their sell by date, or the monkeys have taken a bite of.
And, of course, in mild climates the autumn veggie garden is when you are preparing to plant all those mouth watering foods that tolerate mild frost; for example, green peas and broccoli, spinach and beetroot.
Growing avocado trees is not intrinsically difficult, but one does need a mild climate with no more than light frosts.
We have four in our garden; three that were grafted, a Hass, a Fuerte and a Pinkerton all of which bear proflifically. The fourth, which our son planted as a pip some ten years ago still hasn't borne.
Stick with grafted fruit trees; they bear quicker and don't grow so tall that you cannot reap the pears.
If this page about avocado fat has put YOUR mind at rest about the avocado calories, then would you forward to another doubting Thomas?