It’s food time again! As I talked about in Week 1, the best thing we can do for ourselves is to eat real food — food that is in its most natural state, unprocessed or minimally processed, and is recognizable as food no matter where you’re from. Each week, I feature just one food or group of foods that may be beneficial for those of us who live with fibromyalgia, but they should be part of a varied diet consisting of real, whole foods. If we eat the same thing all the time, we may be missing out on some of the nutrients we need for our bodies to function at their very best.
Today’s featured food may make you happy, or it may make you wince. People seem to either love them or hate them…. It is….
Also known as an Alligator Pear (due to that alligator-looking skin and pear shape), the avocado is a nutritional powerhouse. It contains nearly 20 vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, including Folate, Vitamin E, and Potassium. The avocado also contains nine grams of fiber.
The real star of the “avocado show” is the healthy fat it contains. It contains monounsaturated fat, which can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise HDL (good) cholesterol. For quite a while, fat was seen as the enemy of a healthy diet, but some healthy fats are essential for all body processes. They are vital for the absorption of certain vitamins, called fat-soluble vitamins. The fat-soluble vitamins are Vitamins A, D, E, and K. The body needs the healthy fats in foods such as avocado to absorb these vitamins and make them available for it to use.
Why They May Be Helpful For Fibromyalgia
I’ve been doing a lot of reading about brain health lately, because one of the theories is that fibromyalgia is a Central Nervous System (CNS) problem, and of course the brain and the spinal cord make up the CNS. My thought is if we can make our brain healthier perhaps it will help the nervous system behave itself and perhaps lessen our symptoms.
According to Dr. Daniel G. Amen, M.D. in his book Change Your Brain Change Your Life, “Good fats are essential to your health. After all, the solid weight of your brain is 60 percent fat (after the water is removed).” He goes on to say that we should remove the bad fats but keep the good fats for a healthy brain.
Just as cholesterol is bad for our hearts, it’s bad for our brains. The monounsaturated fat in avocados, since it helps lower LDL cholesterol, is not only good for our hearts, it’s good for our brains as well.
As we talked about Week 3, Vitamin E is an antioxidant, which helps combat oxidative stress and hopefully, increase our energy levels. Check out Week 2 for an explanation of Oxidative Stress and its effects on our bodies.
The Potassium these little gems contain is important for proper nerve function, and if fibromyalgia is a Central Nervous System problem, there’s potential for improvement in our symptoms.
The fiber, along with the healthy fat, can help us feel full longer and potentially prevent those drastic blood sugar drops so many of us experience.
How To Get Them In Our Diets
- So let me state the obvious here — guacamole. That’s probably the first thing a lot of people think of when they think of avocados. It’s really easy to make and delicious too. I just dice up two avocados, two Roma tomatoes, and 1/2 red onion. To this I add the juice of 1/2 lemon, minced cilantro (you have to just put this in to your taste — it’s can be very overpowering so I just put a little in, taste, and add more if needed. You may have to do this step several times to get it right, but it’s easier to put more in than get some out if you’ve used too much.) Stir it all together and you’re all set. I think most people also use some jalapeno pepper in theirs, but I don’t use it, so I’m not sure how much.
- You can mash it up and use it instead of mayonnaise on sandwiches.
- It’s delicious on its own as a side dish.
- It can be used to replace butter when baking.
- You can make a nice salad with tomato, avocado, onion, and parsley. Dress it with some lemon juice and high quality extra-virgin olive oil, and it’s delicious!
Are you an avocado lover, hater, or somewhere in between? If you eat them, how do you use them? Please share!
**Vitamin and Mineral information taken from The Johns Hopkins White Papers Nutrition and Weight Control, 2015, Lawrence J. Cheskin, M.D., F.A.C.P., Carmen Roberts, M.S., R.D., and Simeon Margolis, M.D., Ph.D.