Originally coined by Dr. Steven Pratt, the phrase “super foods" refers to whole, unprocessed foods that contain high levels of nutrients compared to their calorie count. Although medical professionals do not agree on a definitive list of super foods, avocados and almonds provide many nutritional benefits, and some experts consider these foods worthy of the "super food" title.
Avocados as Super Foods
According to Pratt, avocados meet his definition of super foods due to their high levels of monounsaturated fat, a type of fat that contributes to healthy cholesterol levels. One cup of cubed avocado contains 240 calories and 15 grams of monounsaturated fat. Your body needs healthy fats to absorb fat-soluble vitamins, which include vitamins A, D, E and K. An analysis authored by Dr. Mark Dreher and published in May 2013 in “Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition” revealed that the fat in avocados helps the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins from other vegetables consumed during the same meal.
Health Benefits of Avocado
Pratt notes that avocados also contain high levels of fiber, an indigestible carbohydrate needed for heart health, cholesterol control and digestion. The Institute of Medicine recommends healthy adults consume between 25 and 38 grams of fiber a day. One cup of cubed avocado provides 10 grams of fiber, 26 percent to 40 percent of this recommendation. Avocados also contain vitamins C and E, two powerful antioxidants that prevent cell damage. Eating avocados regularly may lower your risk of chronic disease, according to a study published in the January 2013 “Nutrition Journal.” Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, researchers investigated diet quality and chronic disease risks of more than 17,000 adults. The study concluded that people who regularly consumed avocados had a lower risk of developing metabolic syndrome, a risk factor for diabetes and heart disease.
Almonds as Super Foods
The American Council on Exercise lists almonds as one of its top 25 super foods due to their high levels of heart-healthy unsaturated fats. One ounce of almonds, approximately 23 kernels, contains 164 calories, 6 grams of protein and 13 grams of unsaturated fat. This serving size also provides 4 grams of fiber, 10 percent to 16 percent of the Institute of Medicine's daily recommendation. The fat in almonds increases its calorie count, so the American Council on Exercise recommends consuming small portions of almonds for meals or snacks to prevent overeating.
Health Benefits of Almonds
According to Harvard Medical School, eating almonds and other foods high in vitamin E may help to protect against macular degeneration, an age-related eye condition that leads to severe vision loss. Almonds also provide magnesium, a mineral needed for more than 300 enzyme reactions in the human body. One ounce of almonds contains 77 milligrams of magnesium, 18 percent of the daily recommendation for men and 24 percent of the daily recommendation for women. A study conducted by Harvard University and published in November 2013 by the “New England Journal of Medicine” found that people who regularly ate nuts, such as almonds, may have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Using data from the Nurses' Health Survey, Harvard researchers evaluated nut intake and disease risk of 120,000 adults. The study concluded that adults who ate nuts every day were less likely to die from respiratory illness, cancer and heart disease than adults who did not eat nuts daily.
- SuperfoodsRx.com: The Superfoods
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Avocados, Raw, All Commercial Varieties
- American Heart Association: Monounsaturated Fats
- Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition: Hass Avocado Composition and Potential Health Effects
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids
- Nutrition Journal: Avocado Consumption Is Associated with Better Diet Quality and Nutrient Intake, and Lower Metabolic Syndrome Risk in US adults: Results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001-2008
- American Council on Exercise: Top 25 Superfoods
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Nuts, Almonds
- Harvard Health Publications: Top Foods to Help Protect Your Vision
- Harvard Health Publications: Eating Nuts Linked to Healthier, Longer Life