Make friends with good fats

Or, why avocados may be your new best friend

For those seeking to be more health-conscious, the idea of eating nutritiously seems simple. However, understanding what’s truly “good for you” can sometimes be confusing.

Traditionally, spring is ‘let’s work towards a healthier lifestyle’ month. What with summer approaching and beach bodies being baked, last season’s figolli and burgers may suddenly fall out of favour.

You may just need to rethink the way good fats and bad fats work and, avocados – famously high in good fats – may just be your best friend. A recent survey conducted by Avocados From Mexico found that, while 76% of respondents believe fat is an essential component of a healthy diet, less than one-third are confident they know why it’s important to have such fats in their diets.

For starters, these kind of fats can help with weight management – and they also lower the risk of becoming overweight, according to research published in Nutrients.

“Most people are aware of the Mediterranean Diet, but nearly half (40%) of survey respondents didn’t realize that this eating pattern does not limit fat coming from plantsources like avocados,” said nutrition expert and registered dietitian Barbara Ruhs. “These types of unsaturated good fats are also recommended by the American Heart Association for heart health. Eating avocados in place of foods containing saturated fat is an easy and delicious way to approach healthy eating.”

Virtually the only fresh fruit with good fats, avocados can help people meet both good fat and fruit and vegetable recommendations in the same bite with approximately 6 grams of good fats per serving (one-third of a medium avocado). They are nutrient-dense, making avocados a delicious food with super benefits. Avocados are also free of cholesterol and sodium and have nearly 20 vitamins and minerals.

Another finding from the survey is that while people believe fat is essential to a healthy diet, one-third of survey respondents believe saturated and trans fats are associated with health benefits, indicating confusion about the various types of fats. Many people need to balance their overall fat intake by reducing “bad” or saturated fat intake and increasing good, or unsaturated (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) fat intake. Replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats can help reduce LDL, or bad cholesterol levels.

Dietary fat helps the body absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K. These vitamins are fat soluble, which means they can only be absorbed by the body with the help of fats. Per one-third of a medium avocado (50 grams), avocados contribute 6 grams of unsaturated fats, which are known to be essential for normal growth and development of the central nervous system and brain.

Make good fats a part of your next trip to the grocery store with this avocado-inspired Harvest Bowl Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette certified by the American Heart Association’s Heart-Check Food Certification Program.

Recipe: Harvest Bowl Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Balsamic Vinaigrette: 1/2 Avocado From Mexico, diced; 1 tablespoon avocado oil; 2   tablespoons shallots, minced; 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard; 3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar; 1 tablespoon honey; 3 tablespoons water

Salad: 2 Avocados From Mexico, diced; 2 sweet potatoes, roasted and diced; 2 cups quinoa, cooked; 2 cups arugula; 2 cups kale; 1 cup Brussels sprouts petals, roasted; 2 apples, diced; 2 tablespoons roasted pecans, unsalted; 2 tablespoons roasted pepitas, unsalted; 2 tablespoons dried cranberries.

To make balsamic vinaigrette: In food processor, process avocado, avocado oil, shallots, Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, honey and water to smooth consistency. Set aside.

To make salad: In large bowl, combine avocados, sweet potatoes, quinoa, arugula, kale, Brussels sprouts petals, apples, pecans, pepitas and dried cranberries. Pour balsamic vinaigrette over salad mixture. Toss salad to coat. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

For other Pink magazine features check out this exhibition about Strait Street in Paris, or read about this book for children on the spectrum.

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