2013 has found me traveling hither and yon: first to NYC for an annual functional medicine conference, then to Sacramento to visit my husband Joe while he tackles a new career assignment, then on to Dallas for a gala and fun family wedding, and most recently to the big Island of Hawaii( I can still hear the tropical birds’ symphony in my dreams and almost feel the warm breezes and the scent of plumaria in the air…ahhh, heavenly!). Although I enjoyed ALL of my travels, my time in Hawaii with Joe and 2 of our closest friends truly was 10 days of relaxation, sunshine and attention to balanced living. Joe and I both vowed to leave work behind so that we could truly take in the aura of the island and adapt to the slowed down pace, savoring each moment of island living.
Due to the proximity to the equator, Hawaii has shorter daylight hours in the spring than we do in Oregon: sunrise at 6:15, sunset at 6:30 pm, so the rhythm of the day is quite different. People tend to get up with the sun(which definitely works for me!) and get a lot of living in during the daylight, but are often in bed tucked away snugly earlier than I am used to, often as early as 8:30 but certainly no later than 10:00 PM. I found myself getting almost 8 hours of sleep almost every night, which is quite different for me, as I am used to getting by with 6-7 hours of sleep most nights at home. It was lovely to adopt this rhythm and my body felt so nourished by all of the rest. As always after some time away from our normal routines, I came home determined to pay more attention to my resting hours.
We also were surrounded by fresh, flavorful and abundant tropical produce. I have never seen such large avocadoes and papayas: they were HUGE!! and so affordable: at the farmers’ markets ripe and yummy papayas sell for 5 for $2(sometimes even less), so we ate a ‘rainbow’ of fruits and veggies at every meal. I even tried some blue sweet potato chips with guacamole. freshly made at a market: Wow, is all I have to say about that combination!
My friend Susie and I went to an avocado festival last Saturday and learned that avocadoes pack some pretty amazing nutritional punch. First of all, I thought there were 2 types of avocados( as that is all I have ever seen sold on the mainland): apparently there are about 40 different types, which was news to both of us. I have always loved to eat these green fruits(technically this is what they are, although often prepared like a vegetable. Due to the festival , we learned just how healthy these “alligator pears” really are. Originally believed to possess aphrodisiac qualities by the Aztec Indians, we now know that they actually provide a broad spectrum of health benefits:
1. Cancer prevention: avocadoes contain certain compounds which help to not only identify but destroy cancer cells while sparing healthy ones and contain high levels of oleic acid, which can help to prevent breast cancer.
2. Support eye health, as they contain extremely high levels of carotenoid lutein, which protects you from macular degeneration and cataracts
3. Help to lower cholesterol , as they are high in ‘beta-sitosterol’. One study demostrated a 17 % reduction in cholesterol levels after eating avocadoes daily for only one week!
4. High in folate, which protects against heart disease and strokes.
In addition, avocado oil is amazing for your skin and hair and in South Africa, avocados are mashed, mixed with honey and lime, to use as a face mask and for after-sn’ treatment. One avocado contains more potassium than a banana as well as 2.5 grams of protein; all in all, one nutritiously packed ‘veggie fruit.
Of course, now I am back in Oregon, the weather distinctly cooler…farmers markets still waiting to open(I guess that is not a problem in Hawaii, where the season seems to be perennial summer!). I have made a point of buying avocados, incorporating them into salads, shrimp tacos and guacamole. I would love to hear some of YOUR favorite ways to use avocados, some of YOUR favorite recipes for including these wonderful veggie-fruits into your diet. Please share your recipes with all of us! I know that in South America, avocado ice cream is quite popular: I have yet to try it but it sounds yummy.
Oh, and back to whether avocados contain aphrodisiac qualities: apparently the jury is out on this, but one thing we DO know for sure: eating a whole foods based diet, exercising regularly, getting adequate sleep and managing your stress clearly all contribute to hormone balance, and in turn , this does support healthy sexual functioning. So don’t forget to eat some guacamole on a regular basis and share some of your favorite recipes with all of us.
Bon appétit and Mahalo……