#WhatWeEatWednesday : Avocado, Fashion Food or Brain Fuel?
You can pretty much find them on any menu these days. They’re on your salads, your burger, deep fried, and the most popular, on toast. There’s literally an entire restaurant (or rightly named an avocado bar) dedicated to them in Brooklyn, NY.
Walking the fine line of ripeness. Often found either being too firm and green and then suddenly and without notice being WAY too ripe, black skinned, and well black inside and not that lovely shade of green we look for. But cut one open and hit it JUUUUUST right and its feels like you’ve just won the lottery for an avocado lover!
But what’s all they hype about? (other than they are delicious…)
Avocados are a healthy, “good” fat.
We’ve been programmed with false beliefs that all fats are bad… I mean, why else would you buy all of those low-fat foods in the grocery aisles right? Just say No to Fat… you get the picture. And the problem is that our bodies are designed to NEED fat. Without it we eat and snack all the time to keep from crash and burning before the end of the day, experience brain fog, low energy, dry skin, poor sleep, we keep that weight on, we get depressed and anxious, we get hangry AF plus many other issues including hormone regulation struggles and low sex drive.
So why are avocados important to me as a counselor besides helping with that lengthy list above?
Avocados contain mostly monounsaturated fat, with 67 percent of their total fat, or 14.7 grams per cup chopped, consisting of this type of fat. Monounsaturated fat is one of the healthier types of fat, potentially lowering your risk for heart disease and high cholesterol as well as helping you control your blood glucose levels. Amongst the various aspects of our physical health that these are beneficial for are: our brains and therein, our mental health! Avocados are almost as good as blueberries in promoting brain health (more on blueberries later). Because it’s a monounsaturated fat, which contributes to healthy blood flow. And healthy blood flow means a healthy brain. Avocados also lower blood pressure and as hypertension is a risk factor for the decline in cognitive abilities, a lower blood pressure should promote brain health.
Studies have confirmed that the more monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fat the people ate, the less likely they were to become depressed.
Dr. Daniel G. Amen, a clinical neuroscientist, psychiatrist, brain-imaging expert and author of the New York Times bestseller Change Your Brain, Change Your Life counts avocados as one of the top brain-healthy foods that can help prevent Alzheimer’s Disease.
Another study (with mice) tested social stress as one of the worst possible stressors for mental (and physical!) health – and a high-fat diet protects against it. The mice on the high-fat diet weren’t totally fine, but they did a lot better than the low-fat mice in behavioral tests of various different kinds.
Research has proven that eating this fruit — yes, it's a fruit — can ease anxiety. Uma Naidoo, M.D., instructor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, wrote a piece for Harvard Health and said, "In addition to healthy guidelines such as eating a balanced diet, drinking enough water to stay hydrated, and limiting or avoiding alcohol and caffeine, there are many other dietary considerations that can help relieve anxiety." avocados are rich in B vitamins that release neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine.
So here’s the thing: Eating fat does not make you fat. That’s a whole other topic for another day. But do yourself a favor and figure out how to get these healthy fats into your diet .. and if you’ve never tried an avocado.. GO GET ONE NOW. Or see below for a few recipes to make with :)
For me, they’re the plant based alternative to butter but they go on and in everything and I’m a little lost without them. My favorite is just as straight up homemade guacamole or with a big spoon straight outta of the skin with a little seasoning thrown on top!
Amen, D. G. (2015). Change your brain, change your life: the breakthrough program for conquering anxiety, depression, obsessiveness, lack of focus, anger, and memory problems. New York: Harmony Books.
Dietary Fat Intake and the Risk of Depression: The SUN Project (2011), Sanchez-Villegas et al. PLOS One, 6(1)e16268
Finger BC1, Dinan TG, Cryan JF. High-fat diet selectively protects against the effects of chronic social stress in the mouse. Neuroscience. 2011 Sep 29;192:351-60. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2011.06.072. Epub 2011 Jul 1.
Naidoo, M. U. (2016, March 24). Nutritional strategies to ease anxiety. Retrieved October 03, 2017, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/nutritional-strategies-to-ease-anxiety-201604139441
Steven Pratt, MD, author, Superfoods RX: Fourteen Foods Proven to Change Your Life. Ann Kulze, MD, author, Dr. Ann's 10-Step Diet: A Simple Plan for Permanent Weight Loss & Lifelong Vitality. David Perlmutter, MD, author, The Better Brain Book.
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