Health

An avocado a week 'cuts risk of heart disease' – eight delicious ways to get more into your diet

So, the brunch favourite is good for your heart. But how else can you eat it?

Researchers have found that eating an avocado a week appears to slash the risks of coronary heart disease by 21 per cent compared to people who do not eat the fruit.

EATING two or more servings of avocado every week reduces the risk of heart disease by a fifth, according to a study from the Journal of the American Heart Association.

The research, which looked at the diets of more than 110,000 people, found eating one of the green fruits a week (the equivalent of two servings) appears to slash the risks of coronary heart disease by 21 per cent compared to people who do not eat avocado.

Aside from being delicious, avocados also contain dietary fibre, healthy monounsaturated fats and other key vitamins and minerals, including magnesium and vitamins C, E, and K.

Dr Lorena Pacheco, lead author from the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in Boston, US, says: "Our study provides further evidence that the intake of plant-sourced unsaturated fats can improve diet quality and is an important component in cardiovascular disease prevention."

Here are eight ways to get more avocado - without a slice of toast in sight.

1. IN YOUR FAVOURITE GREEN SMOOTHIE BOWL

Smoothie bowls may be less trendy now than they were five years ago, but they still remain a popular breakfast option, particularly in the spring and summer.

Adding avocado to your blender will help you thicken your bowl, particularly if you also use frozen bananas. Mix blueberries, spinach and raspberries for a sweet and tangy start to the day.

2. AS A TASTY GUACAMOLE

Guacamole has its roots in Central America. In Mexico, avocados grow in abundance, and the Aztecs were said to eat it combined with spices.

These days, the tasty dip is more often used to top popular Tex Mex dishes like enchiladas and nachos.

However, if made simply and fresh at home (by mashing up ripe avocados with garlic, lime, black pepper and chillies) guacamole with tortilla chips or crudites makes an excellent snack and is an easy way to get those vital vitamins in.

3. IN A CREAMY PASTA SAUCE

Yep, a creamy pasta without the cream. Adding avocado to a blender with tasty ingredients like basil, chilli, lemon juice and black pepper, and combining until a creamy sauce will make an easy topping for your pasta of choice. Add a little bit of Grana Padano and you have a quick and healthy midweek meal.

4. IN A CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

You read that right. Avocado makes a great substitute for eggs in a chocolate mousse - which can make an indulgent pudding vegan.

You can't taste the avocado when it is paired with high cocoa dark chocolate and some of your favourite dairy-free milk.

This dessert is a lush final course for a dinner party and can be made in under 10 minutes, because it turns out that avocados and blenders go hand in hand.

5. STUFF THEM

You may be used to stuffing a pepper, a sweet potato or a mushroom, but you can also stuff an avocado. Take out the stone (carefully - apparently injuries from removing them are on the rise), and add couscous, rice, beans, cheese, cooked prawns, whatever you like.

Try using avocados next time you're baking muffins.

5. IN BANANA MUFFINS

Because it's high in fat, thick and creamy, avocado is a great addition to a muffin, particularly with banana. It'll make an excellent breakfast or snack and paired with chocolate chips is a sure-fire hit with kids and grown ups alike. No need for butter and oil, the avocado is doing all the work.

7. BAKE THEM

A great alternative brunch to the usual avocado toast (delicious but becoming rather overdone). Take the stone out of your avocado, crack an egg in the hole, top with cheese or herbs and bake it.

This will be delicious with a hollandaise sauce and some sourdough or a zesty Pico de Gallo (Mexican tomato salsa).

Baked eggs in avocados with tomatoes is a tasty and healthy meal.

8. DRINK THEM

In the 19th century, French colonisers brought the avocado to Thailand and it can be seen on menus now in a very sweet capacity.

Sinh To Bo is a cold drink, much like a milkshake, made with condensed milk, coconut milk and ice. It has a beautiful green colour, milkshake-like texture and a nutty taste.

The name translates to 'butter fruit smoothie' and is a very accurate description.

The bad news is that avocados are on the more expensive end of fruit and veg items. Prices have surged to a 24-year high, a rise that has been put down to inflation pressures and Covid-related supply problems in Mexico.

But if you want to get your hands on them at a slightly lower cost, check out the reduced aisle in your local supermarket for those on the turn - perfect for throwing in a blender.

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