Avocados are more than just a popular trend among self-proclaimed "foodies." This stone fruit can help make your diet healthy and tasty!
Whether it's in a smoothie, on toast, or in guacamole, avocado has proven itself in the food world. It's tasty, has a creamy texture and is super healthy for you. Adding avocado to your balanced diet has been linked to reducing the risk of many food intake-related health conditions. Heres some health benefits of the fruit:
1. They're good for your heart.
Avocados are high in monounsaturated fatty acids (aka. good fats), which can help the body keep cholesterol—a risk factor for heart disease— in check. And recent research out of Pennsylvania State University has found that avocados actually lower cholesterol better than other healthy fats, such as olive oil.
2. They improve nutrient absorption.
There are some food combinations that boost the body’s uptake of certain nutrients. It turns out, the avocado is a one-stop shop for nutrient absorption. According to a study from Ohio State University, the fats in avocados helped participants better absorb cancer- and disease-fighting carotenoids such as beta-carotene, which is found in carrots. It also helps the body convert them to vitamin A, which has an important role in growth and development, eye sight and even immunity.
3. They help you lose or maintain weight.
While an avocado can pack about 250 calories, those calories are well spent, especially if you're trying to curb cravings for less healthy foods. Researchers have found that adding half of an avocado to your lunch can help you feel satiated and avoid snacking later. Another study, published in Nutrition Journal in 2014, found that eating avocado was linked with a 40 percent reduction in the desire to eat over the three-hour period that followed.
4. They can help you see clearly.
Avocados are actually great for vision. They contain two phytochemicals that provide antioxidants to reduce damage from UV light. Because of their ability to improve nutrient absorption mentioned above, they also reduce the risk of developing retina disease, macular degeneration that can come with aging, according to Medical News Today.
5. They can protect you from disease.
Because of the high concentration of dietary fibre in avocados, incorporating them into your diet and making sure you are getting enough fibre in your day to day life can significantly lower your risk for chronic disease. Risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes and more can be reduced according to a study done by the Department of Internal Medicine and Nutritional Sciences Program of the University of Kentucky.
Looking for healthy and delicious ways to add avocados to your diet? Here are some Canadian Living recipes to add to weekday dinner options:
(Courtesy FlickrCC/Tony Webster)I've always been moved the way Canadians have incorporated our beautiful flag into cultural events. Of course, I'm biased. How could I not be? But even when I try to be objective, I'm still convinced our flag, that splash of red Maple Leaf on the stark clean white background is an attention-grabber. It also lends itself to artful depictions in paintings, wall-art, summertime light shows (as witnessed last July on Parliament Hill; see above), and even on celebratory cakes! Many Canadians are pulling out all the stops as our national flag turns 50 this month. It still surprises many people that our red-and -white maple leaf flag was raised for the very first time on Parliament Hill just 50 years ago on February 15, 1965. Cities and towns across Canada are hosting various events to honour the anniversary of our flag, and many of them coincide with Family Day weekend (February 15 and 16), which is a statutory holiday in some provinces. And why is our flag so important? To quote the official statement: "Our national flag speaks to what we have accomplished together, to the historical moments that have served to define us, and to the promising future of this great country." Here are ten across-Canada highlights from the Flag of Canada Day Calendar of Events: 1. Quebec City, Plains of Abraham, Feb. 15. Hockey Canada's Century Tour, which celebrates 100 years of Hockey Canada, hosts a Flag Day event during the Québec Winter Carnival. Bring your family and friends to the caravan on the Plains of Abraham. Organizers have arranged a photo booth in which visitors can take their picture with the Canadian flag as a backdrop. 2. Prince George, British Columbia - Feb. 15 Activities at the Canada Games Plaza include an outdoor selfie station where visitors are invited to have their photograph taken with the aim of creating a Canadian flag mosaic. 808 Canada Games Way 3. Toronto, CN Tower - Feb. 13 to 15 Head on down to one of the tallest structures in Canada to have your selfie taken. On the evening of Feb 15, the CN Tower will be lit in the colours of the national flag. 4. Gatineau, Quebec, Museum of History February 6 to July 5 The museum curators have produced an incredible exhibit with rarely-seen artifacts and memorabilia related to the Canadian flag. Must-see: the first known depiction of the flag as it exists today. Also, visitors can view flags that were proposed but weren't chosen!
This is just one of the numerous designs that was proposed, more than 50 years ago, as the National Flag of Canada, but obviously wasn't chosen. Courtesy: Museum of Civilization.5. Winnipeg, Manitoba at the Canadian Human Rights Museum - Feb. 15 There will be the heart-stopping raising-of-the-flag ceremony followed by hot chocolate (it's winter in Winnipeg, after all) and other indoor activities. 6.Victoria, British Columbia - Feb. 15 The public is invited to Government House for the outdoor ceremonial flag raising along with army, air and sea cadets. Indoor programming and refreshments follow. 7. Regina, Saskatchewan - Feb. 13 The "Celebrate the Flag!" exhibition includes an interactive touch table where visitors of all ages can create their own flag, and then record their own Canadian moment in the video booth. 8. Fredericton, New Brunswick - Feb. 15 to March 31 A special flag exhibit at Government House is a dual 50th anniversary celebration of both the Canadian and New Brunswick flags. 9. Ottawa, Confederation Park - Feb. 15. There are lots of activities in Ottawa in honour of the flag's 50th anniversary: outdoor events, ceremonial flag raising, unveiling of a collector's commemorative stamp and coin, a citizenship reaffirmation – and what's a party without cake! 10. Vancouver, British Columbia - Feb. 12, (morning) Guest speakers Senator Nancy Greene and John Furlong at this breakfast event reflect on the 50th anniversary of the flag and the 5th anniversary of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games. Vancouver Convention Centre West. For complete details and times of Flag Day celebrations, visit the Flag of Canada Day Calendar of Events. Oh, and if you're hosting your own flag celebration, you can always serve our delicious Tested Til Perfect O Canada Cupcakes.
Image courtesy of Americo Original Image by: Image courtesy of Americo Original
Enjoy our free knitting pattern for this easy, elegant, all-season wrap. You'll love wearing it on cool fall nights or paired with a coat in winter months.
The Billberry Bias Wrap is a timeless transitional piece that can be worn anywhere, with anything, all year round. Plus, it's a pleasure to knit. The pattern is the perfect introduction to lace knitting and the stitch shows off the yarn beautifully. Made with Brezo yarn—a luxurious blend of wool, mulberry silk and linen—it will keep you warm in air-conditioned restaurants and cool outside on a sunny day. A great travel item, the wrap fits into a small bag. You'll want to wear it as soon as you cast off the last stitch.
You may find that your stitches slip around on your needles because of the type of yarn and nature of the pattern. Some people find their yarn slips less if they use bamboo or wooden needles. Also, you may want to use point protectors or a rubber band when transporting your project to prevent the stitches from falling off your needles in transit.
2 Skeins of Americo Brezo (40% Wool, 35% Mulberry Silk, 25% Linen)
100g/437 yards (400 m)
4 mm (US 6) size needles
Yarn needle or crochet hook
Note about the yarn: Brezo is available through Americo Original online and in select yarn stores. You can substitute for other fingering weight yarns like Americo's Fine Tweed or any fingering weight yarn from your stash.
20 inches (48 cm) x 85 inches (216 cm). This pattern stitch creates a fabric that lays on its bias. To measure, lay flat and hold measuring tape against outside edge.
Not essential—with most knitting projects it is important to do a gauge swatch, but there are times when you can skip this part. The results will still vary depending on your tension as a knitter, so if you're very specific we recommend that you knit a swatch in the stitch pattern and block it before you start your wrap.
K, k : knit
P, p : purl
k2t (slant to R): Insert the needle into the front of the 2 knit stitches from left to right. Draw the yarn through to the front knitwise, and drop both stitches from the needle.
YO : Yarn over—To create an extra stitch when adjacent stitch is a knit stitch. Bring the working yarn to the front and lay the yarn over top of the working needle in counter-clockwise direction.
Row 1: K3, (YO, k2t) to last 2 stitches, k2
Row 2: K2, purl to last 2 stitches, k2
Repeat these two rows.
Using 4 mm (US 6) size needles, cast on 101 stitches. Purl 2 rows. Change to pattern stitch and continue until work measures 85 inches (216 cm). Knit 2 rows. Cast off.
Weave in all loose ends. Block garment—your stitches will relax and the lace portion of your wrap will open up and flatten out—leaving you with a more attractive finished piece.
Americo Original is a Canadian yarn company and online knitting shop that features a high-end selection of yarns, textiles, custom knitwear patterns and accessories. Only natural fibers, produced especially for us in the Andean highlands of South America are offered, including luxurious wools, llama, alpaca, organic and premium cottons, linen, silk and cashmere. Americo's one-of-a kind runway pieces and classic styles for the hand knitter are created in our design lab. Americo is based in Toronto, Canada and ships internationally from their online store: americo.ca/shop.
Follow Americo Orignal Inc. on Facebook, Instagram @americooriginal and Pinterest for daily knitting inspiration.
Your body needs some sugar to function, but Canadians, who consume the equivalent of 26 teaspoons of the sweet stuff every day, are probably overdoing it. We break down what too much sugar does to your body, and how you can cut back.
Good news for those with sweet tooths: Glucose is our main source of fuel, so, yes, we actually do need sugar in our diets. But don't get too excited— they're not all alike.
"All carbohydrate-containing foods, whether candy, pop, fruit, vegetables or grain products, break down into glucose in our bloodstream," says Patricia Chuey, a Vancouver-based registered dietitian. "But our bodies respond differently when we get sugar from nutrient-dense, fibre-rich foods, eaten as part of a balanced meal that contains protein, compared to 'empty' calories from zero-nutrient, fibre-less foods."
Those carb-heavy, low-nutrient foods cause our blood-sugar, or glucose, levels to spike, triggering the release of insulin in response. One of insulin's jobs is to move glucose from the blood to our liver, muscle and fat cells for storage, and when there's more in our bloodstream than what our bodies need for energy, it can end up as stored fat—"even though fat, per se, wasn't consumed," says Chuey. That's partially why excess sugar consumption is linked to fatty liver disease, as well as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Fibre-rich, nutrient-dense foods, on the other hand, break down more slowly, so they don't cause as much of a blood-sugar spike, or the resulting weight gain.
That doesn't mean you have to skip your favourite sweet indulgences entirely. What we know today is that moderation is key—a little sugar won't hurt you.
But, for the most part, Canadians are not consuming a little sugar. According to Statistics Canada, on average, 22 to 26 percent of our total daily caloric intake consists of sugar. Put another way, that's an average of 110 grams, or 26 teaspoons, per day. And it's not just how much; experts are also concerned about where it comes from.
"Whole foods that are sweet, like fruit, can be good sources of vitamins, minerals and fibre, which can contribute to overall health," says Gita Singh, a research assistant professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Boston's Tufts University.
It's added sugar, regardless of the source, that's the problem. You'll find it in processed foods, such as many breads, soups, salad dressings and pasta sauces. And then there's pop, sports drinks and fruit drinks, which experts collectively refer to as sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs). These drinks are among the top causes of obesity and its attendant ailments, which include heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer and other chronic diseases. In fact, Singh coauthored a report published in the medical journal Circulation that estimates SSB consumption is partially responsible for the diabetes-, cancer- and cardiovascular disease–related deaths of 1,600 Canadians each year.
The fact that SSBs are a leading source of excess sugar in our diets is galling but encouraging. That's because the solution is straightforward: Stop, or at least cut back on, drinking them.
Chuey says you can further reduce the added sugar in your diet by avoiding convenience foods that list sugar (or maltose, corn syrup, cane sugar or honey) among the first three ingredients; swap your caramel macchiato for a latte; and top plain yogurt with fresh fruit. The less sugar you consume, the less you'll end up craving.
But when you do indulge, go all in. "Apply the pleasure maximization principle," says Chuey. "Make it really worth it! Not in terms of quantity, but the kind of quality that will really satisfy." So skip the soda fountain. But those homemade cookies? Enjoy!
YOUR BODY ON SUGAR
There are lots of table sugar subs on the market, but how do they stack up, health-wise?
Stevia: Zero calories per teaspoon
Stevia is a zero-calorie, fructosefree option.
Date sugar: 11 calories per teaspoon
Date sugar contains all the fibre and nutrients found in the dried fruit.
Coconut sugar: 15 calories per teaspoon
Made from the sap of coconut-tree flowers, coconut sugar has the same calorie count as table sugar, but it's lower on the glycemic index.
Agave nectar: 15 calories per teaspoon
Agave nectar is about 1 1/2 times sweeter than refined sugar, so you can use less. But it's high in fructose (hello, blood-sugar spikes!).