As the avocado season’s harvest kicks off, the Heart Foundation Tick programme is urging Kiwis to eat more of the world’s most nutritionally complete fruits this summer.

The Heart Foundation Tick has joined forces with New Zealand Avocado to encourage people to ditch ‘bad’ fats and consume more ‘good’ fats like those found in avocados.

More than half the total fat in avocado is made up of oleic acid, which provides unique health benefits similar to that of olives 1. Oleic acid works by increasing the body’s absorption of fat-soluble nutrients and antioxidants while activating the part of your brain that makes you feel full, meaning you may be less inclined to crave saturated and trans fats found in other foods. 2.Avocados contain a unique combination of essential fatty acids, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. This blend of benefits has earned the fruit many accolades including ‘super fruit’ status.

Avocado has also been awarded the official Heart Foundation ‘Tick’, cementing it as an official smart and healthy food choice.

Heart Foundation Tick manager Deb Sue says some New Zealanders think avocados are too high in fat so avoid eating them altogether.

“In actual fact, monounsaturated fat is great for heart health and helps you maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Avocados are naturally cholesterol free, are packed full of nutrients and are an incredibly versatile food. Avocados are an ideal way of increasing your intake of 5+ A Day fruit and vegetables and we would love to see New Zealanders eating more of them in place of foods with a lot of saturated fat,” says Sue. “Avocados are really diverse and can be used in smoothies, salads, and by spreading avocado onto sandwiches instead of using butter, you can reduce your intake of cholesterol, saturated fat, and sodium.”

There are now over 1100 Tick approved products inNew Zealand, all of which must go through rigorous independent testing to ensure they comply with strict nutritional criteria.

This summer the Heart Foundation will include avocado recipes in its Tick Recipe Guide booklet and on-line at Avocados will also be promoted via the ‘Tick Club’ which has over 30,000 members nationwide.

When choosing avocados, be mindful that green ones will be ready to eat in 7-10 days and can be kept in your fruit bowl to ripen naturally. Avocados with olive green skin will be ready in 2-3 days, while purple/brown ones are ripe and ready to eat.  Ripe avocados can be refrigerated to extend their life a few more days but black avocados should be avoided as they’re past their best.

Meanwhile, New Zealand Avocado will support the Heart Foundation Tick programme this summer by supplying avocados at events and initiatives throughout the 2012-13 season. The New Zealand Avocado Growers’ Association Inc. (NZAGA) chief executive Jen Scoular says up to 2.9 million trays of Hass avocados are expected to be harvested between now and March for export and the domestic market.

“Last season was a record crop and the favourable prices meant many people tried – and loved – avocados. There will be plenty of beautiful fruit in supermarkets this season for people to enjoy throughout the summer months,” says Scoular.

Avocados provide a wide range of nutrients, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Eating them can help lower your cholesterol absorption, protect your liver, improve your skin and maintain a healthy weight and digestive system.

“Avocados provide nearly 20 essential nutrients. They taste absolutely delicious and are extremely versatile – you can use them in hot, cold, sweet or savoury dishes. We would definitely encourage people to be adventurous with avocados this summer and try something new. And there will be lots of fantastic new recipes around for inspiration,” says Scoular.


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