Yes, ‘Diet’ Avocados Are Now a Thing—Here’s a Nutritionist’s Take

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You do not need a diet avocado. I repeat: You do not need a diet avocado. But there is indeed a “skinny” version on the way. Called Avocado Light, the new variety is marketed by Spanish food company Isla Bonita as a fast ripening, slow-to-turn-brown fruit, with 30% less fat than traditional avos.

According to the company's site, the Avocado Light was created by cultivating a particular avo breed in specific growing conditions. No additional info on its overall nutritional value is provided. The new variety is only available in Spain for now. But here’s my take on why your regular old avocados are perfect just the way they are.

First, the fat in avocado isn’t fattening. Avos may actually help you keep weight off: The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey revealed that people who ate about half of an avocado every day weighed, on average, 7.5 pounds less than those who didn’t. They also had smaller waist measurements, and were 33% less likely to be overweight or obese.

RELATED: 26 Amazing Avocado Recipes for the Avo-Obsessed (Yeah, You)

One potential explanation is that the healthy, monounsaturated fat in avocados helps you feel full. Research from Loma Linda University found that adding half of a Hass avocado to meals resulted in a significant boost in self-reported satiety among study participants. Avo eaters also experienced a reduction in their desire to eat, which lasted for up to five hours. (One caveat to note: this study was funded by a grant from the Hass Avocado Board.)

In addition to healthy fat, avos provide antioxidants, which have also been linked to weight management. And the fruit helps fight inflammation, too—another benefit that may help you stay slim. (For more on the link between inflammation and weight, click here.) In a study done at UCLA (and also supported by the Hass Avocado Board), researchers compared people who ate burgers with or without half of a Hass avocado; they found those who had the topping produced fewer inflammatory compounds afterward. The avo eaters also experienced improved blood flow, compared to the other group; and their triglycerides (blood fats) didn’t rise above the levels seen in the plain-burger group.

What's more, regular avocados are overall nutrient powerhouses. They provide fiber, and nearly 20 other key nutrients, including vitamins E and K, magnesium, and potassium. The fruit's good fat also significantly boosts the absorption of certain antioxidants and fat-soluble vitamins, which hitch a ride with fat to get transported from the digestive system into the blood stream. Without knowing the overall nutrient levels in the Avocado Light, I’m hesitant to recommend them.

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Now, you may be thinking, Hmmm, if I eat diet avocados, can I have them more often, or eat a whole avo instead of half? Maybe, but keep in mind that the new variety contains only 30% less fat, so you shouldn’t go crazy. And, it’s important to include a variety of healthy fats in your diet beyond avos (think nuts, seeds, olives, and tahini), to provide your body with a broader spectrum of nutrients.

After years of fat phobia, health conscious eaters are finally embracing the notions that eating fat doesn’t make you fat, and that not all fats are created equal. Avos are high up on the good-for-you fat list, so, in my opinion, they were never in need a makeover.

That said, if skinny avocados become available in the U.S. and you decide to try them, be strategic about how you eat them. For example, if avo is going to be the only or primary fat source in a meal, stick with the full-fat kind. If you want to add avo to a dish that already contains healthy fat—like extra virgin olive oil or nuts—the light version may help you better balance your macro-nutrients.

Cynthia Sass is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, a New York Times best-selling author, and a consultant for the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets.

Source: Nutrition

Is It Possible to Eat Too Much Healthy Fat? A Doctor Weighs In

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You know healthy fats like salmon, avocado, and olive oil are good for you, but can you overdo it? The most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans don't give a strict upper limit for how much total fat you should eat (though they do recommend keeping saturated fat consumption to less than 10 percent of your daily calorie intake). And as you know, healthy fats found in foods like avocado, nuts, salmon, and extra-virgin olive oil have many benefits: They provide your body with lasting energy, keep you feeling full longer, and help your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins. However, all dietary fat—both unhealthy trans and saturated fats and good-for-you monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats—is more calorie-dense than protein and carbohydrates, so eating too much could lead to weight gain.

RELATED: 13 Healthy High-Fat Foods You Should Eat More Of

If you’re a generally healthy adult, I suggest getting anywhere from 25 to 35 percent of your daily calories from mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which is a moderate amount. (So if you eat, say, 2,000 calories per day, shoot for 65 grams or so of fat, which is equivalent to roughly one avocado plus 2 1/2 tablespoons of EVOO.) A registered dietitian can look at your diet and tailor that number to fit your needs.

 

Health’s medical editor, Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, is assistant professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine.

Source: Nutrition

The Healthiest Drink Options at Starbucks (Beyond Black Coffee and Tea)

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Need a healthy pick me up? I often advise my clients to look for Starbucks when they're out and about, and craving a snack or drink—even the folks who don't drink coffee. The chain offers plenty of nutritious bites, like nuts, pumpkin seeds, kale chips, fresh bananas, and popcorn. And now Starbucks is serving up a decent selection of healthy beverages, too. And I don't just mean black coffee and tea. Below are my picks from the menu (including some that are naturally caffeine-free), based on calories, sugar content, and ingredients:

If you're craving juice …

Get an Evolution Fresh. This juice brand, owned by Starbucks, is available in other stores as well. While Starbucks doesn’t carry the complete line, there is one regularly stocked option I recommend: Sweet Greens and Lemon. The blend is like a liquid salad, with celery, apple, cucumber, spinach, romaine lettuce, kale, lime, lemon, and parsley. The entire 16-ounce bottle provides 100 calories, 32% of the Daily Value (DV) for potassium, 16% of the DV for vitamin A, and 12% of the DV for vitamin C.

If you're jonesing for caffeine …

Order a tall caffè latte with almond milk (iced or hot). The iced version has just 50 calories from 5 grams of carbohydrate, 3 grams of fat, and 1 gram of protein. It provides 25% of your daily calcium needs and 8% of the DV for vitamin A, with a reasonable 75 mg of caffeine. The hot version contains the same amount of caffeine and 80 calories, from 7 grams of carb, 5 grams of fat, and 2 grams of protein. It also has slightly more calcium (35% of the DV) and vitamin A (10%). 

RELATED: 24 Things You Should Never Order When You Eat out

If you need chocolate … 

Ask for a hot cocoa made with coconut milk. A tall with "no whip" clocks in at just 210 calories—not too bad considering you’ll get your chocolate fix along with 25% of the DV for calcium, 20% of the DV for iron, 10% of the DV for vitamin A, and 12% of the DV for fiber. Just keep in mind, it’s not low-carb. The cocoa includes 28 grams of sugar, which is about 7 teaspoons worth and more than the recommended daily cap. In other words, make it an occasional treat.

If you want something cozy …

Get a short (8 oz.) steamed apple juice. While a whole apple is a better choice, of course, this fall treat can count toward your daily fruit intake. Made from 100% pressed apple juice (not from concentrate) and with no added sugar, you can sprinkle in a little cinnamon and nutmeg and warm up sans caffeine for 120 calories.

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If you're looking to hydrate …

Pick up a San Pellegrino sparkling mineral water. Flat water is better for your digestive health (bubbles can cause bloating) but sometimes a little fizz can make H2O feel like a fancy treat. A plain San Pellegrino provides a bubbly fix for zero calories, only 20 milligrams of sodium in a 16-ounce bottle, and nothing artificial.

Cynthia Sass is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, a New York Times best-selling author, and a consultant for the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets.

 

Source: Nutrition