My husband’s workplace did a great thing a couple of weeks ago, they contracted with a local fitness company to offer a 4-week boot camp complete with a nutritional plan for any interested employees. I love when a business will help employees be as healthy as possible. The I-O Psychologist in me wants to tell you that a healthy employee is a happy and productive employee who will miss less work. The L.E.A.N. Coach in me wants to tell you that a healthy employee is happier, more productive, and will probably live longer. Wait, those are just about the same outcomes regardless of the approach I take.
So you may be asking yourself where this post is going and why the title is “The Truth About Avocados”. Here it is. The nutrition plan for this boot camp severely limits what you can eat and completely nixes avocados (and basically all fats). The Dr. Sears Wellness Institute has two main goals for clients – to eat a well-rounded diet and use portion control. Dr. Sears constantly talks about the fact that veggies and fruits are GREAT! Avocados, in particular, are a super fruit. Therefore, I would like to take a couple of minutes to tell you all about the great benefits of avocados and by default outline some of the benefits of fats in general.
If you aren’t familiar with the nutrients found in avocados take a look at these two charts before reading any further. Please notice that both are based on a serving size of just 1/5 (20%) of a medium avocado.
Avocados are a nutrient dense fruit filled with monounsaturated fat, fiber, folate, and iron. In fact, they contain over 20 vitamins and minerals! (http://www.avocado.org/avo-babies/nutrition-information/) Fat is a really important component of any diet. We all need fat, we just need to make sure that we eat the RIGHT fat. Saturated and Trans fats are the unhealthy, bad for you fats. Those are the ones to avoid. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are the healthy fats that everyone needs. Based on Dr. Sears’ teachings and the research of so many other doctors and scientists, here are just some of the reasons we need a right fat diet:
1. Fats provide energy. Fats give us more energy than an equal amount of carbs. (Sears, Family Nutrition Book)
2. Fats help us keep our brains, cells, and neurons healthy. Over 60% of our brains are composed of fats and about 70% of the myelin sheath that protects the neurons in our nervous system is made up of fat. In order to repair and build our brain, cells, and myelin sheath we need healthy fats in our diet. (http://www.fi.edu/learn/brain/fats.html)
3. Fats help us use vitamins. Without fat in our diet we can’t absorb and use Vitamins A, D, K, and E in the body. Vitamin A helps our vision, D helps with bone strength, K helps our blood clot, and E helps keep away free radicals. Do you want to sacrifice these benefits? Probably not. (http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/food-nutrition/vitamin-supplements/fat-absorb-vitamins.htm)
These are just a couple of the amazing functions fats perform for us – this includes avocados. Avocados are also known for their use in helping to build muscle (http://www.livestrong.com/article/172638-top-10-muscle-building-foods/) – something many people are hoping for when they sign up for a boot camp at their local gym.
The moral of the story here is that you should not just blindly accept information as the correct way to proceed. PLEASE do your research, ask questions, and if the answers you find don’t coincide with the advice you are receiving don’t be afraid to follow your own path. Any diet plan that asks you to cut something completely out of your diet may not just be hard to follow, it may actually be detrimental to your goals and your overall health.
If you are interested in learning more about the right fats and the bad fats please consider signing up for a L.E.A.N. Start class.