This is wonderful chilled soup combines my favorite comfort food – potatoes – with one of the best all around brain foods out there – avocado.
That’s right – avocado is good for your brain. And your mood. And your heart. And your weight.
According to Drew Ramsey, MD , a NYC psychiatrist who has started an amazing conversation about the role of diet in mood and brain function, avocados are rich in oleic acid –
Oleic acid …. is strongly linked to a decreased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and depression. It improves insulin sensitivity. Oleic acid is used by the body to create oleoylethanolamide, which enhances memory, induces fat burning, promotes weight loss, and reduces appetite.
Dr Ramsey has begun asking the question – Can you eat for a healthier brain? He has written a book called the Happiness Diet – a way of eating that eliminates processed foods and reintroduces us to the nutrients and foodstuffs that support a healthy mind. It’s a dietary message similar to that we’ve been hearing from food gurus like Michael Pollen and Mark Bittman, but focused on how the modern American diet has impacted our brain and our mood, and how getting back to foods like whole grains, grass fed meat, and fruits and vegetables can support and even enhance interventions to improve mood.
“Your brain is made of fat”, he says, and he is right, because fats form the precursors for neurotransmitters. Read Ramsey’s book, and you begin to understand why fat – the right kind of fat – is good for you.
Of course, the amount of research on this approach is limited, but suggests that Ramsey is on the right track. As a physician, I see dietary interventions as supportive of, but not necessarily replacing, psychiatric intervention, whether it be psychotherapy, or if needed, medication. I also see no harm in making the kind of dietary changes Ramsey recommends as a first step, along with exercise and talk therapy, when addressing milder forms of mood disorders that don’t require medication.
I’ve written before about the good fats found in whole sheep’s milk yogurt. Now I’ve added avocado to the list of good-fat foods in my diet.
Avocados are an incredibly satisfying food, not to mention delicious. Add some to your salad. Have a few slices as a side with your lunch or dinner. Grab a spoon and scoop some out for a quick satiating snack.
Or make this marvelous soup.
Modified from a Recipe from Mark Bittman in the New York Times, one of twelve recipes for cold soups in an article entitled “Soup, Hold the Heat”. Bittman calls for 1-2 avocados – I used 1 1/2, but that made for a pretty thick soup that required about 1/4 cup water to thin it. Next time I will just use one avocado and see how that tastes. (This was delicious). Don’t skip the cilantro – it is more than just a garnish, it’s essential for the flavor.
2 tbsp butter
3 Idaho potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 leeks, cleaned and chopped
4 cups chicken broth
1-2 avocados, peeled and coarsely chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped cilantro for garnish
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a soup pot. Add potatoes and leeks. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring, until softened. Add 4 cups stock. Boil, cover, lower the heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in the avocado and puree (I use an immersion blender). Refrigerate till cold, then serve garnished generously with chopped cilantro.