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8/17 9:04:39

I just want to know the truth about avocados!  I have heard that they are bad for you (high in fat, calories  and cholesterol) and I've heard that they are good for you (for skin and high in nutrients.)  I am trying to lose weight and eat healthy.  Are avocados something I can add to my salads or eat as a snack (without tipping the scale)? Or are they not that healthy?

Hello Marcia!!

It's true that avocados are high in fat -- one reason they've earned the nickname "butter pear." A medium-sized avocado contains 30 grams of fat, as much as a quarter-pound burger. That's why diet experts have long urged Americans to go easy on avocados in favor of less fatty fruits and vegetables. But now nutritionists are taking another look. They're finding that most of the fat in an avocado is monounsaturated -- the "good" kind that actually lowers cholesterol levels. Thanks to this new understanding, the U.S. government recently revised its official nutrition guidelines to urge Americans to eat more avocados.

Sneaking monounsaturated fats into your weight loss plan may allow you to enjoy similar health benefits, says Melanie Polk, a registered dietitian and director of nutrition education at the American Institute for Cancer Research in Washington, D.C. Used creatively, she says, avocados can add variety -- and good nutrition -- to your diet. Instead of spreading butter or cream cheese on your bread or bagel, use some mashed avocado instead. Replace that mayo you'd usually put on a sandwich with avocado slices. You'll not only save calories, you'll be cutting out saturated fat and increasing your daily intake of monounsaturated fat as well

A recommended serving size is 2 tablespoons, or roughly one-sixth of a medium-sized avocado. Each serving provides 5 grams of fat and 55 calories. Still, compared with butter or mayonnaise -- which each pack 22 fat grams and 200 calories in a 2-tablespoon serving -- they don't seem so bad.

Giving Avocados a Try
If you decide to incorporate more avocados into your diet, look for them at your local farmer's market or grocery store. If they are hard, place them in a paper sack for a day or two until they ripen and dent when gently squeezed, then use them right away. The green flesh will quickly turn an unappealing shade of brown when exposed to air. To prevent this, place plastic wrap as tightly against the avocado flesh as possible, or sprinkle the cut fruit with a little lemon juice and refrigerate.

For more answers to your nutrition questions check out www.planetyorgos.com

-George Rapitis, MS

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