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Quinn on Nutrition: Of Super Bowls and avocados

February 9, 2015

Yes, I know the Super Bowl is over. But this was truly one of the greatest football battles I can remember watching. Even the commercials seemed to move up in quality from years pastÖsome of them at least. I wasnít particularly convinced that a yellow Skittle is worth arm-wrestling over. And even though the lost puppy finding his way back to his Clydesdale buddies made me cry, Iím not sure it enticed me to want to drink a Budweiser.

Not surprising, there werenít many gazillion-dollar Super Bowl commercials coaxing us to eat more fruits and vegetables. One exception was an ad for avocados. (Yes, the avocado is officially a "fruit.") One writer commented, "How dare a health food sneak its way onto our television screens while we gorge ourselves on wings and chips." To which I would answer, Speak for yourself; I was gorging myself on guacamole and chips.

So now that the big game and big calories are behind us, what is a "health food" anyway? According to the Mayo Clinic, it is a food that meets at least one of these criteria:

It is an excellent source of fiber, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.

It is high in phytonutrients (plant-based substances) and antioxidant compounds such as vitamins A, E, and beta carotene.

Eating this food helps reduce our risk for heart disease and other health problems.

Nuts, apples, berries, broccoli, beans, salmon, spinach and sweet potatoes all make the cut as health foods. Do avocadoes? Here are some stats: One-fifth of a medium avocado supplies 2 grams of fiber, reasonable amounts of B-vitamins, vitamin C, and other important trace nutrients. They contain no sodium or cholesterol (before you turn them into guacamole).

This small one-fifth of an avocado contains 50 calories of mostly monounsaturated fats, the type that can help keep blood cholesterol levels in check. This bit of fat also helps the body absorb fat-soluble nutrients, including all-important vitamin D. In addition, avocados contain lutein, an antioxidant that protects our eyes from sun damage.

On Super Bowl Sunday, we Americans ate an estimated 80 million avocados, and not so much because nutritionists advised it. Like it or not, the same folks who convince us we need a beer because that puppy was so darn cute may also have convinced us to buy a boatload of avocados for game day.

I wonít soon forget Malcolm Butlerís divine interception during the last 20 seconds of this great game. But next year, if I find myself slamming down guacamole during a commercial break and wondering why I feel like drinking a beer, Iíll try to remember that food is only healthful within the context of what and how much we eat.

 

 





 


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