Avocado toast-one of the most popular, healthy and trending breakfasts preferred these days. Easily and quickly prepared, delicious to the palate, it can have as few as two ingredients, as many as ten, depending entirely on your choice.
A lot of people are apprehensive too…isn’t it high in fat content? Won’t it give rise to weight gain?
The benefits of Avocado toast
Avocado, by itself, is a powerhouse fruit. Coupling it with healthy bread and adding toppings enhances the flavor and adds to the benefits.
Let’s see some of the benefits:
An exceptionally nutritious fruit, Avocado is rich in about 20 vitamins, minerals and fibre. It has high levels of folate,vitamin C and vitamin E. Low levels of sugar and carbs only add to the health quotient.
A 100-gm serving of avocado contains, approximately:
Fiber: 6.7 gm
Potassium: 485 mg
Vitamin C: 10 mg
Vitamin K: 21 micrograms
Proteins: 2 gms…. to name a few.
High in potassium
50 gms of avocado contains about 250 mg potassium (6% of your daily requirement). Potassium is essential for maintaining kidney and bone health. It helps reduce hypertension, augments nerve transmission.
Full of fibre
Avocados are full of fibre; half an avocado contains 6 to 7 gms. High fibre is associated with good bowel movements, reducing constipation and promoting good gut health. It also aids good bacterial growth and acts as a natural detoxification agent.
Foods rich in fibre keep you satiated for a longer time and the in case of avocados, almost 3 to 5 hrs. This reduces craving for mid meal snacks and also helps in weight loss and weight control.
Adequate fibre intake is known to lower hypertension, reduce the risk of strokes and help maintain diabetes.
Helps weight control and weight loss
Foods rich in fibre keep you satiated for a longer time- in case of avocados, almost 3 to 5 hrs. This reduces craving for mid meal snacks and also helps in weight loss and weight control.
Weight gain or loss can never be attributed solely to any one food- you have to select combinations which will work for you. For e.g., though avocado is high in fats, consuming it in small portions with healthy fruit toppings balances the dish.
Similarly, replacing bacon on your toast with avocado will help in weight loss, as avocado is richer in monosaturated fats.
Loaded with monosaturated fatty acids
Being rich in monosaturated fatty acids makes avocados heart friendly- they’re known to reduce chronic cardiac diseases. Half a cup of avocado can boast up to 11 gms of monosaturated fatty acids.
Relief from osteoarthritis
Avocados contain saponins, which may reduce osteoarthritic symptoms, especially related to hip and knee.
Avocados are very good sources of carotenoids, like lutein, alpha and beta carotene, to name a few. These act as powerful antioxidants, protecting your body from the harmful free radicals moving around in the body.
May reduce chances of cancers
Avocados have certain phytochemicals and carotenoids which could help fight intestinal, breast or cervical cancers.
May prevent osteoporosis
It is a good source of vitamin K- half an avocado can provide up to 18% of your daily requirement. Vit K is important not only for coagulation, but also aids the health of bones, preventing osteoporosis. It maintains the digestion and excretion of calcium.
Avocados have a rich folate content, which, besides generally been good for the body, controls homocysteine levels. Homocysteine is known to cause cognitive dysfunction, alter sleep patterns, and impair the delivery of nutrients to the brain.
Reduces cardiac problems
Avocados are known to reduce triglyceride and LDL levels (bad cholesterol), while raising the levels of HDL (good cholesterol), thereby reducing chances of chronic cardiac illnesses.The Vitamins, minerals and fibre also help in reducing heart problems.
May reduce risk of macular degeneration
Rich in phytochemicals like lutein and zeaxanthin, avocados help in providing protection to the eye, especially from UV rays. The fatty acids present help absorption of antioxidants, and could prevent macular degeneration.
Helps body digest nutrients
The monosaturated fatty acids present in avocados helps absorption of fat-soluble nutrients required by the body, such as Vit A, E and K. They also help in absorption of antioxidants.
Very good for the skin
The monosaturated fatty acids present in Avocado act as anti-aging agents, keeping your skin looking younger.
The toppings of chia seeds, lime juice and berries additionally give you vitamin C, omega 3 fatty acids, anthocyanins. They could help prevent wrinkles, promote collagen production and generally give your skin a healthy glow. They can also help reduce chances of neoplasms.
Maintains foetal health
Folate requirement of the body increases exponentially during pregnancy and breast feeding.
Avocados are found to have high folate content, and can provide about 27% of the body’s requirement and can help in foetal development. It also helps prevent MTPs, miscarriages and neural tube defects.
Using whole grain bread brings additional benefits to the plate, as do the fresh fruits or lemon juice you might add onto the toast.
Whole grains are very rich in vitamin B complex, as well as iron. These help in the production of red blood cells in the body, as well as transport of oxygen in the body.
Selecting a variety of fruits as toppings will give you the additional goodness and nutrition inherent to fruits.
Latex fruit syndrome: Studies show that 30 to 50 % of people allergic to latex will also have allergic reactions to certain foods like avocado. On a milder scale, it causes itching, irritability, rashes and reddening of skin. If severe, it could even lead to anaphylaxis
Weight gain: Being very rich in fats, Avocados can cause weight gain if consumed in large amounts. Remember, even good fats are ultimately going to affect your weight if eaten in large quantities. White bread, bacon etc. can also add to the weight gain, so choose the toppings wisely.
Avocados are also calorie dense; 1 entire avocado could contain up to 320 calories. Limit your quantity of avocado to half or one third, per serving.
Low Protein content: Avocados are very low in protein, an important part of any meal. However, this can be remedied easily, by adding protein rich ingredients to it like egg whites and chicken. If you’re a vegetarian, mushroom is a good option. Adding it to rice and beans also makes for a complete, protein rich meal.
Blood disorders: Avocados are also rich in Vit K, which plays an important part in coagulation of blood. People on warfarin, or other blood thinners should have avocados with caution.
Preparing this delicacy
The recipe to make this scrumptious dish could be as simple as toast, avocado and lemon juice…or a complex and gourmet guacamole.
At its simplest, just mash a ripe avocado, or slice it, place it on a healthy multigrain bread and season with lemon juice. A quick, hearty, tasty and nutritious breakfast at your fingertips!
Fruits: Bananas, strawberries- or any berries you like, kiwis, pineapple…all add to the taste and make it healthier too.
Herbs and Spices: Salt, of course, is added. You can also experiment with pepper, chili flakes. Herbs like rosemary, basil, coriander leaves, and cilantro also give it a good twist.
Meat and eggs: Add a fried egg (or boiled one), bits of chicken or bacon, to make it healthier and a wholesome meal. Use these in moderation, though. Too much bacon or cheese may cause weight gain.
Salmon is another good alternative.
Veggies: Top it up with onions, garlic, pickled radish, baby tomatoes. Drizzling olive oil gives it a zing too.
Seeds: Sprinkling chia seeds or hemp or sunflower seeds can add a bit of crunch, while making it healthier as well.
Have it as it is
Just sprinkle some salt and black pepper on a halved avocado and have it right out of the rind.
This versatile fruit makes for a great addition to your smoothie; toss it in the blender with some milk/ yogurt, add a banana or berries, some spinach or kale, honey for a sweet tinge and blend it all.
Mash up half an avocado and add spices and herbs of your choice – pepper, jalapenos, lime juice for a simple, healthy and tasty dip, to enjoy with veggie sticks or toast. You can always add onions, tomatoes or other herbs you might prefer.
Word of caution- store bought guacamole might contain cream cheese or added preservatives which detract from its health value; preferably, make the dish yourself.
Replace mayo with mashed Avocado and yogurt, in a chicken, tuna or chickpea salad. You can also cube it and use it to make chunky salads and salsa.
Add some avocado to garlic, spinach and spices and blend for a creamy pesto sauce, sans the cream.
Stuff it up and bake it.
Deseed the avocado and fill it up with fillings of your choice- onions, capsicum, minced meat, cheese. You can pour an egg into it, cover with cheese and bake…it makes a delicious alternative to toast.
Mash it up and use in cakes or muffins, especially with fruits like bananas; you can add berries or choco chips for taste. The avocado easily replaces any butter or shortening you might otherwise use.
A Vietnamese drink made with avocado, fresh milk as well as condensed milk, it’s refreshing, delicious and also full of energy.
It is one of the few fruits that can be incorporated in sweet as well as savoury dishes. Fresh, green avocados, of course, taste the best. However, overripe ones too, can be used in baking pies and cakes.
Avocado toast is one of the most versatile dishes you can make…don’t be afraid to experiment. Choose healthy ingredients, moderate proportions and various herbs and fruits and you have a beautiful dish to turn to, anytime!