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There are so many health benefits of avocados that they can truly be your best friend during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and when you're trying to find food to feed your vegan children.
Your midwife or obstetrician will likely recommend you add a few hundred extra calories to your diet during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and adding an avocado to the daily mix can easily satisfy those requirements while giving you a punch of nutrients as well.
Avocados for Pregnancy
During pregnancy, if you're dealing with day-long "morning" sickness and can't find a way to eat much besides saltines, avocados are a great, smell-free way to add good fats and tons of vitamins like vitamin E, vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and B5, potassium, carotenoids, magnesium, folate, lutein, and and dietary fiber.
Some people find that avocados can help prevent and cure nausea, and so they eat them first thing in the morning to help balance their bodies for the coming day. The scientific reason for this is probably because of the amount of vitamin B6 in avocados.
One of the biggest health benefits of avocado during pregnancy is that they're packed with folate, which is crucial in the early development of your baby. Low folate levels very early on (sometimes even before you know you're pregnant) are linked to neural tube disorders and spina bifida. If you're considering getting pregnant or have just found out you are, an avocado a day can help keep the neurologist away.
Avocados also help your body to better absorb the nutrients from fat-soluble fiber sources like vegetables. It used to be common to worry about the fat content in avocados, but avocados have high amounts of monounsaturated fat, the "good fat."
If you're dealing with leg cramps during pregnancy, avocado can help you straighten them out. They have more potassium than a banana, and potassium levels (along with calcium) can help ease cramping.
Another one of the health benefits of avocados is that they help maintain your blood sugar levels and lower blood cholesterol.
Avocados as First Food and for Older Vegan Children
The health benefits of avocados also extend to the smallest members of your family. You can offer avocados as a first food at about 4-6 months of age, and they work perfectly because they are slightly sweet and incredibly easy to mash for your baby. I would make sure to strain them afterwards to get rid of any extra strings in the flesh.
Some favorite things to mix with avocados for baby food are bananas, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, mangos, rice cereal, apples, pears, peaches, and zucchini. Just remember to thoroughly cook, mash and strain any of the heartier vegetables and fruits.
You can also mix mashed avocados with other first foods like bananas and sweet potatoes, and normally your baby won't even notice because it has such a mild flavor. You can also feel relatively safe buying non-organic avocados because they are low on the contamination scale that the Environmental Working Group provides for the dirty dozen fruits and vegetables.
It's always best to serve avocados raw to ensure you're getting the full health benefits of avocados, but when you start with babies, they will only eat a tiny sliver of avocado. So, what I do is freeze them.
It's best to freeze individual slivers of avocado separately so they don't stick together. You can also dunk each slice into a mixture of water with a few drops of lime or lemon juice before freezing to prevent browning. Then, when you're ready to feed a slice, take it out of the freeze and let it thaw in the fridge before smashing for your baby.
With older children, avocados are great, dense sources of healthy fats, which is helpful for vegan children. Fan favorites are simple guacamole sandwiches with sliced vegetables and whole grain breads, chocolate avocado mousse, and smoothies with avocado mixed in.
Avocados on the TTC Ride
The ancient Aztecs considered avocado to be the fertility fruit, and named it after their word for testicle because of its shape. Creative as it their name is, there were also legitimate health benefits of avocados for fertility.
When you're trying to conceive, you'll do and eat just about anything that could possibly make you more fertile, and because of that, you've probably heard about adding avocados to your diet. One of the big reasons avocados are associated with increased fertility is because of the high levels of folic acid, which can increase fertility for both men and women.
The other big reason is because of the monounsaturated fat, which creates a healthier environment for conception than one in which you're introducing trans fats.
If you're a vegan, you probably won't be surprised to hear that the other foods that are recommended to women trying to conceive are whole grains, vegetable proteins like beans, nuts, and seeds, and cutting back on coffee, alcohol, and tobacco use.
Cautions and Risks
The biggest thing to worry about with avocados is that if you have a latex allergy, you might want to be checked for your allergy to foods like avocado and bananas. Studies show these specific fruits are linked to latex allergies.