Now is the Time by Eunice Messner
"California Avocados: Fruit with Phyte"

Eunice has submitted this article for her column this month. It is written by Dr. Elizabeth Pivonka, PhD., R.D., President, Produce for
Better Health Foundation

When Americans reach for an avocado, they're getting more than they bargained for. The avocado is loaded with phytonutrients, which are natural plant substances that work with nutrients and dietary fiber to help fight chronic illnesses, such as heart disease and cancer.

These plant-based phytonutrients recently discovered in the avocado are beta-sitosterol and glutathoine. Beta-sitosterol helps lower blood cholesterol levels and is found in fruits like bananas, apples, strawberries and cherries. Ounce-per-ounce, avocados contain four times the bets-sitosterol found in oranges, which had previously been reported as the richest beta-sitosterol fruit source.

Glutathoine, another phytonutrients found in fruits and vegetables, acts as an antioxidant. Antioxidants help by "mopping up" the free radicals that are known to play a role in the development of heart disease and cancer. Avocados, one of the best fruit sources of glutathoine, may offer some protection against oral, throat, and other types of cancer.

Avocados, along with other fruits and vegetables, are nutrient-dense in vitamins E and C-other antioxidants that help promote healthy teeth and gums, and help protect the body tissue from oxidative damage.

Folate is another important nutrient that promotes healthy cell and tissue development. Consuming enough is essential for pregnant women and women of child bearing age. Avocados contain more folate per ounce than other fruits, so choose the fruit with the most "phyte" "per bite!

Potassium is a mineral that helps the body's fluids and other life-essential minerals stay in balance. The richest sources of
potassium are avocados and bananas. The power-packed avocado has only five grams of fat per slice (1/5 of an avocado) and the majority of the fat is monounsaturated; the same type of fat found in olive oil. Studies have shown that the monounsaturated fat may increase HDL (good) cholesterol, but has little effect in the LDL (bad) cholesterol.

Avocados are one of nature's whole foods-a natural for today's healthy lifestyle. So, give yourself a "phyting" chance and choose an avocado!

From the California Farm Bureau Federation