There are so many reasons – and so many ways – to love avocado. A culinary superfood, avocados provide up to 20 nutrients including vitamins K, C and E, as well as folate, magnesium, zinc, and potassium. In fact, they actually have more potassium than bananas.
Unlike most fruits, avocado is low in carbohydrates and high in a healthy fat called oleic acid. Like olive oil, oleic acid has been linked to health benefits such as reducing inflammation, protecting cells against cancer, and reducing cholesterol. This amazing fruit also improves digestive health and helps your body absorb other nutrients.
There are limitless ways to add avocado to snacks or meals: Use avocado as a healthy spread on toast; blend it into scrambled eggs; add it to dips, salsa, or soup; slice for a salad topping.
Avocado is optimally ripe when the fruit is mildly soft to touch. Its flesh should be creamy and green-gold in color. If you don’t use the whole fruit at one time, keep leftover avocado fresh by leaving the pit in the unused portion and allow it to sit, uncovered, on a counter for a few hours before placing it in the fridge (still uncovered) for up to two days. When you want to use the other half, simply peel off the brown crust to reveal a soft and deliciously ripe avocado beneath.
Beta-carotene has two important functions in the body: It functions as an antioxidant, protecting cells against damage, and it can be converted to Vitamin A (retinol), critical to maintaining skin and eye health.
Without beta-carotene, our bodies are unable to manufacture Vitamin A. Also, without sufficient Vitamin A, nearly all of our systems are at risk, including lungs, kidneys and immune function. Research shows that people who consume the necessary levels of beta-carotene are able to lower their risk for coronary artery disease, stroke, macular degeneration, and other age-related diseases.
You can get beta-carotene from a variety of foods:
- Chinese cabbage
- Yam/Sweet Potato
The National Institutes of Health recommends a daily intake of 3,000 IU for adult men and 2,310 IU for adult women. For children, amounts vary according to age. While beta-carotene deficiency is rare in most industrialized countries, it can be difficult getting the recommended levels simply from food. That’s where supplements come in. In consult with Dr. Myra Reed, design a plan that meets your individual needs. You may want to consider a supplement with a mixture of carotenoids, including beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, lycopene, astaxanthin, lutein and zeaxanthin.
It’s possible to take too much beta-carotene. This is usually indicated by a yellowing of the skin, palms or soles and is known as carotenemia. Once consumption of beta carotene is reduced, this yellowing fades over time. As always, your best outcomes are achieved when working closely with Dr. Myra Reed.