You can almost taste the tacos and smell the spicy salsa just thinking about Cinco de Mayo, a day many will celebrate Mexican heritage and culture. But you don't have to be Latino to participate in festivities or to enjoy the delicious food. On this day, Americans will use 81 million pounds of avocados in their Cinco de Mayo meals - that is 162 million individual pieces of this delicious green fruit, according to the California Avocado Commission.
Guacamole, made predominantly of avocados, is a popular food people eat on this cheerful holiday. "Avocados are a good source of fiber, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate and vitamin B6," says Silvia Veri, a registered dietitian and nutrition supervisor at Beaumont's Weight Control Center in Royal Oak.
Break out the maracas and bongos and celebrate: avocados are good for you. Half of an avocado is 160 calories. It contains 15 grams of unsaturated fat, just 2 grams of saturated fat and has no cholesterol. "Although it is high in fat, it is coming from a healthy source," says Veri.
Unsaturated fat, like polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, found in nuts, seeds, olives, vegetable oils and avocados, are considered to be heart healthy fats because they help to lower bad or LDL cholesterol. Saturated fats, such as those found in animal products, full-fat dairy products and processed foods, are unhealthy because they increase bad cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease.
As suggested by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 10 percent of a person's total calories should come from saturated fats. If eating a 2000 calorie diet, one should consume less than 65 grams of total fat per day and less than 20 grams of saturated fat.
While avocados are relatively high in calories Veri says, "As long as it is portion controlled, avocados are healthy and can be used in other recipes, or as a butter substitute because of its smooth and creamy texture."
For comparison, 1 tablespoon of butter has 100 calories, 11 grams of fat and 30 milligrams cholesterol. "It is much better to eat avocado or use it as a sandwich spread than butter or mayonnaise," she says.
For your May 5 fiesta, or any time of the year, Veri recommends a healthy guacamole recipe that is flavorful and easy to prepare.
Clara's Chunky Guacamole
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup cilantro
juice of 1 lime
1 1/2 cup fresh Roma tomatoes, diced
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon garlic salt
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped with seeds removed, if desired
Cut the avocado, remove pit and spoon out flesh into a bowl. Mash avocado with fork until all large pieces are gone. Add lime juice to desired taste and mix. Add garlic salt and salt. Mix in chopped cilantro, tomatoes, and onions. Add diced jalapenos if desired.
About Beaumont Weight Control Center
The Beaumont Weight Control Center offers a comprehensive approach to permanent weight loss for children and adults. Physicians, exercise physiologists, psychologists and registered dietitians staff the multidisciplinary care center. To learn more about the center for medical weight loss solutions or to sign up to attend a free weight control seminar, visit digestivehealth.beaumont.edu/weight-control-center.