Wherever you are on your healthy lifestyle journey, you are not alone. I tell my patients that the key to being healthy is being disciplined in eating the right foods, staying active and getting enough sleep; and that’s for both you and your kids.

Committing to your overall health and wellness should start early on. When you’re pregnant, it doesn’t always mean you’re eating for two. A growing baby needs nourishment from the mother’s diet throughout the day, but experts say nutrition during pregnancy should be about adding extra nutrients and not extra meals. Moms to be need to be eating foods that are good for them and their babies. They just need to choose the right ones.

Avocados are a power food loaded with critical vitamins and minerals pregnant moms need to pass along to their unborn babies. For example, nutrients like folate help prevent birth defects of your baby’s brain and spinal cord.

It’s so important for pregnant moms to consume a host of vitamins and minerals, and avocados are a great resource. Avocados contain powerful antioxidants like lutein, an ingredient found in breast milk known to protect important cells in a baby’s eye. You might say avocados are a very similar to a prenatal vitamin. And avocados may even help reduce morning sickness!

The health benefits of avocados don’t stop once your baby is born. If you’re breastfeeding, avocados are high in monounsaturated fats, which are good fats and are important for a baby’s weight gain, growth and brain development.

Avocados are the perfect first food for your baby. Between 4 and 6 months you can introduce avocados into your child’s diet. They work perfectly because they are easily mashed and slightly sweet. This is a good time to introduce new food textures as well.

What’s the foolproof way to know that your family’s favorite fruit is ripe? Push lightly near the neck and feel for a gentle yield. If you’re still not sure it’s ready to eat? Pop the stem button. If the stem button pops off easily, then the fruit is ready to eat.

We always put children first, so, moms and dads, don’t forget about you. Avocados are a fit food fruit. Studies show avocados may reduce total cholesterol levels, while they lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol. Avocados are also loaded with dietary fiber, which may help you lose weight and reduce blood sugar spikes.

The next time you’re grocery shopping, make sure you add a few avocados to your cart. They’re nutritious, they’re heart healthy and they taste delicious. They’re good for you and everyone in your family! What more could you ask for in a fruit?

Sue Hubbard, M.D. /The Kid’s Doctor; the kidsdr.com