A weight loss fruit that makes you feel full, improves your gut health, and reduces absorption of fats.
Having an avocado every day as part of your diet will increase healthy gut bacteria and reduce the absorption of fat.
The fruit is rich in fibre and monounsaturated fat, a healthy fat that lowers “bad” LDL cholesterol in the blood.
A study by Ahmed et al. (2019) suggests that avocados contain a fat molecule that could help prevent diabetes and maintain a healthy weight by improving blood glucose levels, glucose metabolism, and insulin sensitivity.
A new study has found that people who eat avocados have higher levels of gut microbes responsible for breaking down fibres and producing a number of metabolites (short-chain fatty acids) that improve gut health.
Ms Sharon Thompson, the study’s first author, said:
“We know eating avocados helps you feel full and reduces blood cholesterol concentration, but we did not know how it influences the gut microbes, and the metabolites the microbes produce.
Microbial metabolites are compounds the microbes produce that influence health.
Avocado consumption reduced bile acids and increased short chain fatty acids.
These changes correlate with beneficial health outcomes.”
Bile acids are produced by the liver, stored in the gallbladder, and released into the intestine for breaking down fats from foods we eat.
Western diets are higher in fats causing more production of bile acids which can alert the gut microbiota population and cause intestinal inflammation.
The study recruited 163 overweight or obese participants and divided them into two groups receiving a normal diet.
The only difference was that one ate fresh avocados (175 g for men or 140 g for women) as part of a meal every day for 12 weeks and the other group had a similar diet but no avocados.
Dr Hannah Holscher, study co-author, said:
“Our goal was to test the hypothesis that the fats and the fiber in avocados positively affect the gut microbiota.
We also wanted to explore the relationships between gut microbes and health outcomes.
Despite avocados being high in fat, the avocado group absorbed less fat compared to the other group.”
Dr Holscher said:
“Greater fat excretion means the research participants were absorbing less energy from the foods that they were eating.
This was likely because of reductions in bile acids, which are molecules our digestion system secretes that allow us to absorb fat.
We found that the amount of bile acids in stool was lower and the amount of fat in the stool was higher in the avocado group.”
Types of fats found in foods affect the gut microbiome differently, for example, avocados contain monounsaturated fats which are considered heart-healthy.
On top of that, avocados are high in soluble fibre: an average avocado contains 12 g of fibres which is a big portion of the daily recommended fibre intake (28 to 34 g).
Dr Holscher said:
“Less than 5% of Americans eat enough fiber.
Most people consume around 12 to 16 grams of fiber per day.
Thus, incorporating avocados in your diet can help get you closer to meeting the fiber recommendation.
Eating fiber isn’t just good for us; it’s important for the microbiome, too.
We can’t break down dietary fibers, but certain gut microbes can.
When we consume dietary fiber, it’s a win-win for gut microbes and for us.”
People shouldn’t worry that avocados are high in calories as it is more important that it is a nutrient-dense food that contains micronutrients like fibre and potassium that we don’t get enough of.
About the author Mina Dean is a Nutritionist and Food Scientist. She holds a BSc in Human Nutrition and an MSc in Food Science.
Depression and anxiety can by caused by many things ranging from genetics to lifestyle choices. Although we can’t always cure depression on our own, we can make little changes in our lives to help fight it. One of the ways we can fight depression and anxiety is by eating foods that are good for our bodies and our minds.
1. Whole Grains Lighten Up Your Mood
If you’re looking to improve your mood quickly, grab a healthy, high fiber carbohydrate like whole wheat bread, muffins or pasta. Carbohydrates promote serotonin production; serotonin is the “feel-good” hormone that improves your mood and relaxes your brain and body. Not only that, but whole grains also help maintain a steady blood sugar level, which keeps you from dropping into that terrible “hungry” feeling.
2. Dark Chocolate Fights Against Depression
Although milk chocolate might actually contribute to depression, dark chocolate can aid in your fight against it, as long as you eat it in moderation, of course. The reason it can help fight depression? It’s large amount of antioxidants, as well as it’s ability to boost endorphins and serotonin.
3. Berries Bring You Joy
These tasty, delicious little fruits are packed with antioxidants and vitamins! Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and raspberries should be incorporated into your diet as much as possible because not only do antioxidants boost your immune system and prevent cancer, but they can play a huge role in your fight against depression, too. You can throw them on your cereal, in your yogurt or smoothies, or enjoy them all on their own!
4. Walnuts Supports Overall Brain Health
Like most nuts, walnuts are an excellent source of protein, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. What makes walnuts really stand out though, is the omega-3 fatty acids they also contain. In fact, walnuts are one of the richest plant-based sources of omega-3s, which can help lower depression and support overall brain health. So, the next time you’re feeling blue or anxious, grab a bag of walnuts to munch on.
5. Salmon Boosts Brain Power
Speaking of omega-3s, fatty fish like salmon are also great sources of this fatty acid.Not only is fish great for boosting your brain health and fighting depression, but they are excellent for your overall health, too. Eating fish regularly can help improve circulation and reduce inflammation. The American Heart Association recommends eating two servings of salmon, or other fatty fish, a week.
6. Dark Leafy Greens Fight Anxiety And Depression
Dark leafy greens are probably the healthiest, most nutrient-dense food around. Spinach, kale and Swiss chard can help prevent cancer, boost your immune system and, of course, fight depression and anxiety.
7. Seeds Give You A Good Night’s Sleep
Munching on seeds to cure your crunchy cravings can help you cut down on calories. It can also help you fight depression! Flax seeds, chia seeds and hemp seeds are full of omega-3s, which we already know is great for our brains! Pumpkin seeds are also great for fighting depression because they are packed with l-tryptophan, an amino acid that is a precursor to melatonin, which we need for sleep. Pumpkin seeds also help increase serotonin levels.
8. Beans Can Lift Your Mood
We all know that beans are absolutely amazing for your overall health because they’re high in protein, iron, folate, carbohydrates and fiber, but low in cholesterol. So we all know beans are good for our heart, but did you know they’re also good for you mind, too? Beans have selenium in them, which can help lift your mood whenever you’re feeling low. Eat them mixed with rice, in a burrito or in a bean salad.
9. Avocado: Tasty Choice For Better Brain Health
This super food (and super delicious fruit) is an edible all-star because it contains tryptophan, folate and more of those brain-healthy omega-3s! However, even though it’s amazing for your health, it’s still high in fat and should be consumed moderately. To take advantage of it’s creamy tastiness, eat it thinly sliced on top of sandwiches and burgers, or in your salad.
10. Mushrooms: Superfood For Your Brain
Mushrooms are good for your mental health and here’s why: they help lower blood sugar levels, evening out your mood, and they promote healthy gut bacteria, and the gut is where 80 to 90 per cent of our body’s serotonin is manufactured. Mushrooms can be eaten a variety of ways and in a variety of dishes! Enjoy them raw in salads or throw them on your pizza, and fight depression and anxiety!
Staying focused in today’s world can be a challenge. Technology presents countless distractions. The constant ping from your smartphone—alerting you to the latest social media notification or text message—can cause even the most focused individual to become scattered.
But technology isn’t solely to blame. Stress can add to the challenge. Aging can also play a role as your ability to ignore distractions can decline as you get older.
What many people may not realize is that diet can influence their ability to focus. Certain foods provide the brain with the necessary nourishment to help you concentrate. Many people are quick to turn to coffee for a cognitive boost. However, a variety of other options can enhance your ability to focus, while also providing a wealth of other health benefits.
A 2015 study conducted by researchers at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA found a positive association between walnut consumption and cognitive functioning in adults, including the ability to concentrate. According to the findings published in the Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging, consuming a handful of walnuts per day can lead to cognitive benefits, regardless of age. Walnuts, in comparison to other nuts, contain the highest-level of antioxidants, which help to promote brain function. They also contain alpha-linolenic acid, a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid that is important for brain health and development. Because walnuts are relatively high in fat and calories, no more than an ounce per day is recommended.
Blueberries are also high in antioxidants, particularly anthocyanin, which has been shown to fight inflammation and improve cognitive brain functions. Blueberries make for the perfect snack since they are low in calories, but high in nutrients such as fiber, manganese, vitamin K, and vitamin C. When they aren’t in season, opt for dried or frozen blueberries.
Salmon is full of omega-3 fatty acids, an essential fat that may slow cognitive decline and possibly lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, according to a 2005 study conducted by Rush University in Chicago. It also helps fight inflammation, which has been associated with a decrease in cognitive function.
In addition to salmon, avocados are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and also contain monounsaturated fats, which support brain function and healthy blood flow to the brain. Avocados are also high in vitamin E, a necessary nutrient for optimal brain health that may slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, studies show. Like walnuts, avocados are fatty and contain a lot of calories. The recommended serving is about 1/5 of a regular-sized avocado (or 1 oz.).
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) is loaded with antioxidants, which have been shown in mice to improve memory and learning deficits that occur as a result of aging and disease. EVOO can also reverse damage in the brain caused by oxidative stress, an imbalance between free radicals and the body’s antioxidant defenses, according to a 2012 study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. EVOO is great to use as a healthy alternative to processed salad dressings.
Nutrient-rich pumpkin seeds make for a quick and easy snack while providing proper nutrition to help promote focus and concentration. High in antioxidants and omega-3s, pumpkin seeds are also a rich source of zinc, an essential mineral that promotes brain function and helps prevent neurological diseases, according to research conducted in 2001 by the University of Shizuoka in Japan.
A 2015 study by researchers at Rush University found dark, leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, and collards, might help slow cognitive decline. Over a five-year span, they examined diet and cognitive abilities in older adults. They saw a significant decrease in the rate of cognitive decline in those who consumed larger amounts of dark, leafy greens. In fact, those who had one to two daily servings were found to have the cognitive abilities of a person 11 years younger. Researchers also found that the nutrients, vitamin K and folate were most likely responsible for keeping the brain healthy and preserving functioning.
Eggs are a good source of protein, are rich in omega-3s, and contain choline, a vital nutrient for brain development. A 2011 study published in The American Journal of Clinic Nutrition found a high-level intake of choline improved cognitive performance. Eggs also contain B12, a vitamin that keeps the brain and nervous system healthy. So beat, scramble, poach, and flip to eat those eggs and reap the rewards.
Yogurt contains probiotics, often referred to as the “good” bacteria that help promote digestive health, which can lead to a healthier brain. A 2013 UCLA study found that women who regularly ate yogurt exhibited improved brain function while at rest or in response to completing a task. Yogurt is also high in B12 and magnesium, two essential nutrients for brain health.
Whole grains provide energy. Oatmeal—slow-cooked whole oats, not the ready-cook kind from a packet—not only makes for a healthy breakfast, it also leaves you feeling full, which is important as hunger can diminish mental focus. For maximum clarity, try a bowl of oatmeal topped with walnuts and blueberries.
Chocolate, which is a stimulant, can provide you with an energy boost similar to a cup of coffee. A 2015 study by researchers at Northern Arizona University found participants who consumed 60 percent cacao content chocolate to be more alert and attentive. Chocolate is also high in antioxidants accounting for many of its health benefits. Just remember to choose dark chocolate over a milk chocolate candy bar filled with sugar.
The herb peppermint may improve cognitive performance and increase alertness as well as calmness, according to a 2012 study by researchers at Northumbria University in the UK. Enjoy the health benefits by brewing a hot cup of peppermint tea or by simply smelling the herb.
Add five drops of peppermint essential oil to a warm bath or rub it lightly into your skin.
About the Author Emily Holland Emily is a certified Health Coach with a focus on stress and anxiety management. A combined interest in healthy living and human behavior led Emily to pursue a certification in health coaching at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition as well as a master’s degree in General Psychology. She’s a freelance writer; you can find more of her work on her website, http://www.mindfulmotives.com.