Avocados count as a fruit on the DASH diet.
The DASH diet has been recommended as a healthy eating plan by the American Heart Association, the Mayo Clinic and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. It was also named the best overall diet by the "U.S News & World Report," topping other popular diets like the Mediterranean diet and Weight Watchers. Standing for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, the plan aims to help you prevent and treat high blood pressure by lowering your intake of sodium, fat, saturated fat and cholesterol. DASH diet followers are encouraged to consume plenty of whole grains, lean protein, nuts, seeds, legumes, low- or nonfat dairy, vegetables and fruits, like avocados.
Avocado as a Fruit on the DASH diet
While you're on the DASH diet, you're instructed to consume at least four or five servings of fruit each day. Unlike some weight-management programs that count avocados as a fat, the DASH diet defines avocados as a fruit, because they are a rich source of fiber and the minerals potassium and magnesium. A high intake of these nutrients is linked to a decreased risk of high blood pressure, says the Colorado State University Extension. The DASH diet guidelines define 1 ounce of avocado as a fruit serving. Each ounce of avocado supplies 2 grams of fiber, 150 milligrams of potassium and 9 milligrams of magnesium.
Monounsaturated Fat in Avocados
Johns Hopkins Medicine adds that another reason avocados are recommended for people on the DASH diet is their high concentration of monounsaturated fat. Eating plenty of monounsaturated fats can help lower your risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. It may also aid in lowering your overall cholesterol level while increasing your HDL, or "good," cholesterol level. Adhering to a DASH diet that emphasizes monounsaturated fat from sources like avocados may be even more effective at lowering blood pressure than diets that don't advise eating them regularly, says Johns Hopkins Medicine. A 1-ounce serving of avocado contains 3 grams of monounsaturated fat.
For breakfast, try tucking slices of avocado into an egg-white omelet along with chopped tomatoes, diced green onions and sprouts. In your lunch sandwich, use mashed avocado as a healthy substitute for mayonnaise, or top the sandwich with avocado instead of cheese, which is higher in total fat and saturated fat. Add diced avocado to salads, or blend an avocado with canola oil, garlic, lime juice and chipotle to make a creamy, low-fat salad dressing. Mashed, seasoned avocado can be used as a dip for fresh vegetables.
Although avocados can be a healthy part of the DASH diet, be aware that they are still higher in fat than most other fruits, containing 4.5 grams of fat in every 1-ounce serving, or approximately 7 percent of a healthy adult's recommended daily intake of fat. They also contain 0.5 grams of saturated fat, which is about 3 percent of the amount an adult should have per day. While you shouldn't exclude avocados from your diet, Johns Hopkins Medicine recommends substituting them for some carbohydrate when you include them in meals to avoid gaining weight.