Americans love inflammatory foods…wait, I mean they love a good burger. Sorry, I do that sometimes.
Back to the burger. We love our burgers so much so that we consume roughly 50 billion of them each year and 7.3% of restaurants in this country are burger joints (stats courtesy of this interesting little burger statistics website). That’s a lot of burgers. And the toppings…oh the wonderful array of toppings. There are restaurants out there where the toppings options will make your head spin (in fact there’s a local restaurant near me where they offer more than 50 burger options with toppings ranging from the simple lettuce tomato and pickle to fried eggs and hot dogs!). And yes, avocado is definitely a great addition to many burger toppings options.
So why am I writing an entire article about putting an avocado on top of your burger? Let’s start at the beginning…or close to it…the cooking process. Have you heard of free radicals? These are unstable components that cause cell damage in the body and lead to inflammatory responses and vasoconstriction (tightening/shrinking of the blood vessels that can lead to or worsen high blood pressure). During the cooking process, free radicals are formed in the burger. And once consumed, our stomachs add to this effect by making more free radicals. Is this killing your appetite for a burger yet? Ok, no that’s not my goal, but I do want you to be armed with a little bit of knowledge and something you can do to make that burger a little bit better for you.
Avocados to the rescue!
Avocados are no doubt popular on the food scene. Personally I don’t ever recall eating or knowing about avocados when I was growing up. That could be due to the upper midwest mashed potatoes and tomato soup nature of my upbringing. But I know about them now and they are rapidly becoming one of my favorite foods.
Avocado and your burger…
Avocados gained traction in American cuisine with the rise in popularity of the Mediterranean diet. They are typically seen in recipes for Mexican foods and Mediterranean salads. And yes, you can even add them to the top of your burger. Adding this colorful creamy and yet fairly bland tasting fruit to your next burger has more benefits than just making it look pretty. You remember those free radicals produced during the cooking of the burger? Avocados actually reduce that vasoconstriction and inflammatory response. Another added benefit authors found was in after meal blood levels of triglycerides (TG). TG levels were not any higher after the meal when avocado was added to the burger. This occurred despite the added fats and calories from the avocado. Study authors concluded, “These observations are suggestive of beneficial anti-inflammatory and vascular health effects of ingesting added Hass avocado with a hamburger patty.”
And it doesn’t end there. An article published last year in the International Journal of Food Properties, scientists reviewed several studies (8 in all) and concluded, “The consumption of avocado, a source of antioxidants, fiber, and MUFA, was able to reduce body weight, control dyslipidemia, and reduce the plasma concentrations of pro-inflammatory markers, acting in the prevention and control of CVD.” (CVD is cardiovascular disease) You can read the full article here and more about what I have to say about inflammation here.
So next time you’re making burgers at home or choosing from one of 50 burger options on a restaurant menu, maybe you’ll be more inclined to try the one with the avocado?