Avocado

Unlike virtually all other fruits (yes, avocados are fruits), these rich, creamy treats are loaded with fat — a whopping 25 to 30

Unlike virtually all other fruits (yes, avocados are fruits), these rich, creamy treats are loaded with fat — a whopping 25 to 30 grams each. Since fat has no impact on blood sugar, avocados are great additions to a low-GL diet if you eat them in moderation.

But, you may wonder, what about all that fat? There is a saving grace: Most of it is monounsaturated fat, the same heart-healthy kind found in olive oil. Research suggests that diets rich in this type of fat may help keep blood sugar in check. Add some avocado to a sandwich or anything else with bread or carbs, and the fat will slow digestion of the meal, thus making it easier on your blood sugar.

Unlike the saturated fats in butter and meat, monounsaturated fat won’t increase insulin resistance, a condition that makes blood sugar control more difficult. In fact, the good fat in avocados (as well as olive oil and nuts) may actually reverse insulin resistance, helping your body steady its blood sugar levels. Avocados also contain more soluble fiber (which stabilizes blood sugar and lowers cholesterol) and protein than any other fruit.

Of course, with fat come calories, so you don’t want to start eating avocados with total abandon — though you probably wouldn’t anyway, since a little avocado goes a long way.

Health Bonus
Avocados are rich in sterols, compounds shown to lower cholesterol. They’re also packed with vitamins and minerals, including vitamin E, magnesium, vitamin C, folate, and zinc. Ounce for ounce, they provide more potassium than bananas!

Glycemic Load: Very LowTo choose just the right avocado, try this: Hold the avocado in your hand and press it gently, then roll it to the other side and press again. If it gives just a bit but pressure doesn’t leave a permanent dent (an indication that it’s too ripe), it’s ready to eat.

Perfect Portion: 1/5th Avocado
Cut an avocado into five pieces and have one piece for 55 calories. If that sounds high to you, consider how it stacks up against a tablespoon of mayonnaise (100 calories), butter (also 100 calories), or salad dressing (about 75 calories). The avocado has fewer calories and offers a lot more nutrition.

Menu Magic

  • Guacamole is the classic avocado dish. Add some curry for an Indian flair; hot bean sauce or oriental chili paste for an Asian influence; or basil, sun-dried tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, and pine nuts for a taste of Italy.
  • Mash some avocado and use as a spread on sandwiches (made with whole grain bread, of course), bagels, or English muffins to lower the GL of your breakfast or lunch.
  • Add chunks of avocado to a side salad to lower the GL of the meal. Adding it to salads also increases your body’s ability to absorb the good-for-you carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, in salad greens.

Smart Substitutions
Instead of cheese in your sandwich: Add a slice of avocado. You’ll swap good fats for bad ones.

Instead of cheese as a snack: Have a slice of ripe avocado drizzled with lemon juice.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest