Avocados: The Health Benefits and Grow-ability
Every so often, a vegetable experiences a surge in popularity. Most recently, it was kale. Now it seems to be avocados. These trends are typically very healthy, as the foods that skyrocket to the head of the class do so largely because of their nutritious profiles. For avocados, the benefits are many and a few of us who live in warmer regions may even be able to grow our own!
The increase of avocado-awareness over the past several months is due, at least in part, to a massive movement by the Haas Avocado Board’s funding of numerous new studies. Haas avocados are a specific variety of avocados, and the board, who represents producers of this variety, would love nothing more than to see you buy more. Fortunately, the research they are funding is largely worthwhile and is affirming things we already suspected and/or knew about the valuable and venerated avocados.
Nutrition of Avocados
The health benefits of avocados are no joke. Avocados are a great source of healthy fats and protein, and they are loaded with monounsaturated fat which is able to help reduce LDL cholesterol and even lower the risk of stroke and heart disease. Because they contain a fair amount of protein too (4 grams), they make a great substitute for meat in a sandwich or dip. And of course they can be enjoyed straight out of the shell.
One recent study in Nutrition Journal linked avocado consumption with a reduced risk of metabolic syndrome—a risk factor for obesity and heart disease. The study concluded, “Avocado consumption is associated with improved overall diet quality, nutrient intake, and reduced risk of metabolic syndrome.”
Other recent research has linked avocados to lower BMIs and healthier body weights, as well as cancer prevention. Research has even found that avocado-eaters are especially healthy compared to their non-avocado-eating counterparts.
You can experience all of these benefits from the avocados you find at your local grocery store. But, if you are fortunate enough to live in a warm climate or don’t mind growing a tree indoors, you could even grow your own!
Growing an avocado tree begins with the seed you find in the center of an avocado. By cleaning it off and inserting toothpicks, you create the foundation for a healthy tree. Suspend your speared avocado seed in water, keeping the top of it in fresh air and the wider base under the water’s surface. The toothpicks are there to hold it on the top of the glass.
After about six weeks in a bright windowsill, it will sprout. When the stem has grown about 5-6 inches, pinch out the top leaves to encourage more growth. Then, after another few weeks, transplant your baby tree into a flower pot. For more on caring for your avocado tree, check GardenWeb, where they advise moving your avocado outside only when nights are consistently above 45 degrees.