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Treat Your Tastebuds and Waistline With Avocados This Christmas

New Zealand Avocado - 04 Dec '12

Many of us overeat during the holiday season but nutritionist, Angela Berrill, has some expert advice on how to treat your taste buds and look after your waistline this Christmas.

Berrill has spent her career teaching people how to enjoy food while also nurturing their bodies and has recently been engaged by New Zealand Avocado this season to comment on the fruit's nutritional benefits.

"Avocados are synonymous with summer and this Christmas you can enjoy a wide range of delicious dishes such as Nadia Lim's avocado, watermelon, pomegranate and feta salad. This extra special side salad is a fantastic addition to any festive feast, but will not leave you feeling guilty about having eaten the wrong sort of food,” says Berrill.

Berrill describes avocados as ‘tummy-friendly' because they contain one of the highest fibre contents of any fruit in terms of both soluble and insoluble fibre. Insoluble fibre helps to aid digestion and keeps you regular while soluble fibre helps to lower cholesterol.

"Avocados are also a ‘weight-friendly' food which is something many of us are thinking about at this time of year. As a lower fat alternative to traditional fat-based spreads such as butter or margarine, avocados are a great substitute for mayonnaise when you're putting together a tasty sandwich or summer salad.

"Another important consideration for many New Zealanders is that because avocados contain ‘good' monounsaturated fats such as oleic acid, they can help lower levels of ‘bad' LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, making them great for heart health. The fats in avocado also help the body's absorption of fat-soluble nutrients,” she says.

Expectant mums can also benefit from the iron and fibre contained in avocados, while the fruit's high folate content will support the formation of a baby's neural tube.

"Avocados are an ideal first food for young babies too. Being smooth and creamy in texture, they are easily tolerated and provide babies with a range of important nutrients for their development,” adds Berrill.

Berrill has previously acted as the nutrition adviser and expert for TV3's Target and regularly contributes to well-known publications such as Good Health magazine.

"I'm passionate about educating people on the importance of diet. Avocados taste delicious but they're also a nutritionally dense food, containing many health-promoting nutrients and compounds for people of all ages,” she explains.

When planning a celebratory summer meal, remember that avocados do not need to be confined to a salad. Berrill says they're a versatile ingredient which can be used in smoothies, on toast, pizzas and omelettes and even in cakes and desserts.

"Now is the perfect time of year to enjoy them, so add avocados to your next barbeque, summer lunch, dinner or Christmas meal,” she concludes.

>> Recipe: Avocado, watermelon, pomegranate and feta salad

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Avocados cholesterol lowering properties

They are a great addition to a salad or smoothie. But for many, the avocado has come to be seen as a guilty pleasure. Though classed as a fruit, it is not typical in the fact that rather than being high in carbohydrate, avocados are high in fat. Fat has long been hailed the dietary enemy number one, but as the tables turn and the scientific spotlight shines more acutely on sugar, so the benefits of the humble avocado are being realised.  A new study has revealed adding the green fruit to your diet can aid weight loss.    Furthermore, the fruit reduces a person’s risk of heart disease, according to scientists from the Hass Avocado Board, in California. Emiliano Escobedo, executive director, said: ‘This study supports the body of research showing the many benefits that fresh avocados have to offer when consumed in everyday healthy eating plans.’ The findings fall in line with recent recommendations from the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The guidelines stated that making small shifts in food choices can make a difference – including shifting from solid fats to oils, such as the oil in fresh avocados. The new study, published in the Journal of Clinical Lipidology, confirmed that swapping solid fats for avocados can ‘significantly change lipid profiles'. Scientists analyzed 10 unique avocado studies with 229 participants. The researchers assessed the impact of avocado on cholesterol levels. They found that consuming one to one-and-a-half avocados per day ‘significantly reduced total cholesterol'. Additionally, it also limited the 'bad' low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides when substituted for sources of fat. Corresponding study author Dr Sachin Shah noted that the results showed that even healthy study subjects showed significant reductions. Dr Nikki Ford, director of nutrition for Hass Avocado Board, said: ‘Fresh avocado, as part of a balanced diet, and as a cholesterol-free substitute for solid fats, can help be part of the solution for maintaining normal cholesterol levels.   ‘Beyond their naturally good fats, avocados are also a delicious way to boost fiber… and fruit intakes, both of which are under consumed in American diets.’ Having high levels of bad cholesterol is known to be a major risk factor for heart disease, according to the study. Cardiovascular disease is responsible for one out of every four deaths – and it is the number one killer of men and women. Heart disease is also one of the leading causes of disability. The study noted that additional research must be conducted to look at the impact of avocados on major adverse cardiovascular events. Furthermore, the optimal amount of avocado and frequency of use needs further evaluation, the scientists noted. Mr Escobedo said: 'Clinical studies are currently underway to investigate the relationship between avocado consumption and risk factors for heart disease, diabetes, support of weight management and healthy living.' 

Kiwi love affair with avocados growing stronger

More New Zealanders are declaring their love for avocados than ever before and Nadia Lim has devised a special Valentine’s Day treat that’s sure to tempt any chocolate lover. The latest research conducted by Nielsen Homescan shows 90,000 more Kiwi households are buying avocados than in previous seasons. In fact, New Zealanders bought avocados 5.5 times last season on average (compared with just 4.8 times in 2013-14) so now is a great time to experiment with new avocado recipes. Cook, dietician and avocado lover, Nadia Lim, has created a mouth-watering avocado chocolate ganache cake - a twist on a traditional chocolate cake. "The chocolate ganache on this cake uses avocados and coconut milk as the delicious ingredients that give it its creaminess, however the whole cake is also dairy free!  The cake itself is super moist and rich, with the help of rich avocado oil. "Avocados are simply amazing when whizzed up with melted chocolate, producing a thick, silky, creamy ganache.” Lim says if you’re not planning to eat the cake straight away, you can freeze it before it is iced. But the ganache is best made fresh. "This is a great recipe to try on Valentine’s Day because it is decadent, moist and a total treat.” "Introducing more avocados into the diet of your loved one is a delicious gift,” Lim says. Click here for the recipe. 

Picture perfect at Taste of Auckland

From 5-8 November, a team from NZ Avocado interacted with more than 6000 attendees at the Taste of Auckland festival held at Western Springs, Auckland. Over the course of six sessions during the four days of the festival, attendees who visited NZ Avocado’s stand were treated to an ‘Instagram worthy’ setting where we performed cooking demos, handed out recipe cards and booklets, as well as various delicious and beautiful looking avocado samples.     During the weekend we aimed to connect with avocado loving consumers and inspire them to try new avocado recipe ideas. We also gave them tips on how to pick the right avocado and how to correctly store avocados at various stages of ripeness.   Our stand was designed to look like a real life kitchen – bright, modern and eye catching. One wall of the stand was covered in images of delicious looking avocado dishes, while the other wall depicted a kitchen background with a window looking out onto an avocado orchard. Our Amazing Anytime bright blue was everywhere on our stand, making it one of the first stands that attendees eyes were drawn to as they walked through the festival entrance. The "kitchen” was artfully decorated with avocados displayed in glass bowls, cut flowers in vases, and various complementary ingredients for the samples being shared – making our stand look a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach.  Clean-eating, avocado loving and MotivateMe NZ founder Makaia Carr joined us during the Friday and Saturday afternoon sessions. She spent her time chatting to the audiences about her love for avocados while she demonstrated three trendy avocado recipes – a breakfast smoothie, avocado bliss balls and guacamole.  We had a selfie competition running during the weekend to invite interaction via social media. Visitors to our stand were encouraged to take a selfie somewhere on our stand, post it to social media and use the hashtag #nzavocado – by doing this they went into the draw to win an amazing avocado bliss ball prize pack.  Over 20,000 keen foodies enjoyed the beautiful sunny weather throughout the entire weekend. Those who visited our stand were eager to try the delicious avocado samples we had on offer – avocado with either cherry tomatoes or smoked salmon on toast, an avocado and blueberry breakfast smoothie, guacamole, avocado bliss balls, avocado and white chocolate tarts, and avocado crème filled cherry tomatoes. We had a lot of support from our loyal ‘Friends of NZ avocados’ – Go Nutz, Vogels, and NZ King Salmon – as well as support from new ‘Friends of NZ avocados’ – Beekist, Whitakers, Sujon Berries, RealFoods NZ, Down at the Farm, and Fire Dragon Chillies.   We received fantastic feedback from visitors in regards to our stand and everyone seemed to enjoy the avocado samples they tried – we had people coming back for more! Visitors to our stand had many questions about avocados and were very interested in our industry.

Kick start your kids' healthy eating habits with avocado pizza

School  holidays are a great time to experiment  in the kitchen and encourage your kids to eat new foods – and avocados should be  top of the list of healthy things to try.  Avocados are a nutritional powerhouse and their creamy texture appeals to children of all ages. They are full of fibre to help energise and sustain busy youngsters. Plus they are also sugar-free, low in salt and a source of ‘good fat’ which is important for a healthy heart.  Eating avocados can also help your child’s body absorb more vital nutrients from other foods they consume. Avocados contain more potassium per 100 grams than a banana, and are a source of folate and antioxidants – that’s why they’re considered ‘nature’s superfood’.  While some kids are reluctant to eat anything green, pizza is always a winner. Try this delicious Avocado Pizza recipe to get your kids in the kitchen these school holidays so they can learn how to become healthy Avo-heroes! Avocado and Bacon Pizza Avocado and bacon go so well together on pizza, and this recipe is one that the kids will love to make and eat! Makes 2 pizzas, enough to serve 3-4 people Prep time: 20 minutes 40 minutes rising time for the dough           Cook time: 12-15 minutes Pizza base (makes 4 pizza bases) 1 cup (250ml) warm water 1 tablespoon active dried yeast 1 teaspoon sugar450g high grade flour 1 tablespoon olive oil1 teaspoon salt Toppings 1 x 400g can crushed or pureed tomatoes 1 red capsicum, sliced 2 cups grated mozzarella cheese 2 avocados, sliced 200g bacon, cut into pieces and fried ½ red onion, very thinly sliced To make the pizza dough, put the warm water in a mixing bowl and add the yeast and sugar. Stir gently. Leave in a warm place until the yeast has dissolved and the mixture is frothy. Mix well.  Place the flour, olive oil and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the yeast mixture and mix well to form a dough (note: there may be some left over flour in the bowl once you’ve formed the dough, this is fine). Knead the dough for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic, then place in an oiled bowl. Cover with a tea towel or clingfilm and place in a warm place to rise until doubled in bulk (about 40 minutes). Once it has risen, knock back the dough and divide into 4 even pieces. This recipe uses 2 pizza bases so you can refrigerate or freeze the other 2 pieces of dough (wrapped well in clingfilm) to use at a later date. Alternatively you can cook all four pizzas, and just double the amount of toppings listed above! Preheat oven to 230degC. If you have them, place two pizza stones on separate shelves in the oven to preheat. Alternatively preheat 2 oven trays. Get them really hot (this helps the bases crisp up on the bottom). Lay each pizza base on a sheet of baking paper and roll them out to get a nice thin base. Spread tomato sauce over each base, leaving an edge for the crust. Sprinkle over mozzarella and arrange red capsicum and red onion on top. Carefully lift up the baking paper with the pizza on top and place on hot preheated stone or tray. Cook the pizza until the base is crisp and the cheese is melted and golden, about 12 minutes. Take pizzas out of the oven and arrange slices of avocado and bacon on top. Slice and serve!   About New Zealand Avocado The New Zealand avocado industry is the third largest fresh fruit export from New Zealand. NZ Avocado Growers' Association Inc. (NZAGA) and Avocado Industry Council Ltd (AIC) – collectively NZ Avocado, operates under the Horticultural Export Authority Act to set mandatory industry standards for all fruit exported from New Zealand. NZ Avocado also facilitates access for avocados to off shore markets. NZ Avocado works with the industry to promote New Zealand avocados and provide technical information to all growers of which there are over 1,350 based mainly in the Bay of Plenty and Northland. 

Burgers OK for Father's Day thanks to promising avocado research

Research shows you can give your Dad the gift of good health this Father’s Day by simply adding half an avocado to his hamburger. A pilot study carried out by the University of California (UCLA) and supported by the Hass Avocado Board, examined what happened when healthy men added half a fresh avocado to their hamburgers. The study found avocado helped reduce inflammation and narrowing of the blood vessels in comparison to men who ate a meat-only burger instead. The research, published in the journal Food and Function, said the effect of adding fresh avocado to the hamburgers was noticeable within hours. Consuming avocado helped slow the production of compounds that contributed to inflammation – a risk-factor associated with heart disease. The avocado also helped the men (aged 18 to 35) maintain normal blood flow around their bodies which ensured oxygen and vital nutrients reached their organs, tissues and cells. Researchers believe these positive health effects are because avocados are rich in natural monounsaturated ‘healthy fats’ and antioxidants. Jen Scoular, Chief Executive of NZ Avocado says the hamburger research has not been discussed in New Zealand before and there is now growing consumer awareness and understanding of the health benefits avocados can offer. The study also provides promising clues about the impact avocado has vascular and heart health in particular. "Avocados are one of the most nutritionally-complete foods in the world,” Scoular says. "They’re full of fibre and help your body absorb more nutrients, from other foods you eat." Eating avocado is not only delicious – it’s a great way to improve your overall health.” New Zealand’s summer crop of avocados are now on sale – just in time for families to get creative in the kitchen this Father’s Day (Sunday 6 September). "The kids will love smashing up avocado to add to gourmet hamburgers. New Zealand men – and their hearts – will thank you for it.” says Scoular.  To read more about the study’s key findings visit http://www.avocadocentral.com/avocado-nutrition-center/ucla-study *While these are initial findings from a single study, they provide promising clues and a basis for future research to determine whether avocados can play a role in the areas of vascular health and heart health.  About New Zealand Avocado The New Zealand avocado industry is the third largest fresh fruit export from New Zealand. NZ Avocado Growers' Association Inc. (NZAGA) and Avocado Industry Council Ltd (AIC) – collectively NZ Avocado, operates under the Horticultural Export Authority Act to set mandatory industry standards for all fruit exported from New Zealand. NZ Avocado also facilitates access for avocados to off shore markets. NZ Avocado works with the industry to promote New Zealand avocados and provide technical information to all growers of which there are over 1,350 based mainly in the Bay of Plenty and Northland. For further comment and information please contactMidge Munro Communications Manager, New Zealand Avocado p: 64 7 571 6147 m: 64 21 275 3331 e: mmunro@nzavocado.co.nz  OR  Bridgette Paton-TapsellVillage Public Relations | Marketingp: 64 7 572 1608m: 64 27 5533929e: b@villagenz.com

Avocados now 'The Oprah of Instagram'

Avocados have been declared ‘the Oprah of Instagram’ by renowned fashion blogger Leandra Medine and are the most photographed food of our time – just as New Zealand’s new season crop is about to hit supermarket shelves here and overseas. New Zealand’s avocado season begins in September and is likely to send Instagram’s foodies and health and fitness fans into overdrive. Jen Scoular, Chief Executive of NZ Avocado, says the fruit’s rising star status is great news for New Zealand’s avocado industry which is on track to increase production to take advantage of ever increasing global demand. New Zealand sold a record 7.1 million trays worth $135m during the 2014-15 avocado season, of which 2.4 million trays were consumed by Kiwis here at home. About one in five of Nigella Lawson’s recent Instagram posts have featured mashed avocado smothered on toast. Last month actress Emmy Rossum received 27,000 likes for posing in an Avocado Toast t-shirt, while Lena Dunham is another celebrity who likes to regularly snap her healthy avocado snacks. Bloggers and fashion influencers everywhere are leading the trend and avocados are now dominating the brunch and smoothie scene, becoming a must-have on every menu. The UK’s Daily Mail have described avocado as "breakfast’s new superstar” and "the Kendall Jenner of the fruit bowl” thanks to its popularity on Instagram. American blogger Leandra Medine, aka the Man Repeller, compared avocado’s influence to that of Oprah, while Kelly Eastwood of The London Chatter says the obsession is here to stay. "Avocado on toast says: ‘yes, I’m hungover, I haven’t showered yet but, hey, I’m eating avocado at a cool Portobello Road café so I’m still on top of the trend for all things healthy’.” Avocado is revered as a nutrient-dense, cholesterol-free fruit containing healthy fat. They’re a great source of energy, keep you feeling fuller for longer, and are quick and easy to prepare.  About New Zealand Avocado The New Zealand avocado industry is the third largest fresh fruit export from New Zealand. NZ Avocado Growers' Association Inc. (NZAGA) and Avocado Industry Council Ltd (AIC) work with the New Zealand industry to set export standards, facilitate market access, promote New Zealand avocados and provide technical information to all New Zealand growers of which there are over 1,350 based mainly in the Bay of Plenty and Northland. For more information visit www.nzavocado.co.nz or follow us on social @NZ_Avocado @Jen_Scoular @Midge_Munro

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