The Awesome Avocado
Avocados range in size from a few ounces to several pounds, and have skins which can be anywhere from bright green to black in color, and smooth to pebbly in texture. In the US, avocados are grown in California, Florida, Hawaii and Texas. Each variety of avocado has its own distinct flavor.
No matter how you slice it, the avocado has plenty of health benefits including great brain food. Here’s a closer look at some of the nutrients found in avocados.
Healthy fats—As mentioned, avocados are high in healthy fats. Unlike other fats, this type of fat raises levels of good HDL-cholesterol and lowers triglycerides.
Fiber—Avocados are high in fiber, particularly soluble fiber, which promotes regularity, helps regulate the body’s use of sugars, and lowers blood cholesterol levels.
Vitamins—Avocados are a good source of many vitamins such as vitamin A, C, E, K, B vitamins like folic acid.
Minerals— Gram for gram, avocados provide more potassium than bananas. Potassium is critical for nerve impulse transmission, muscle contraction, and heart function. Avocados also provide a fair amount of magnesium, which your body needs to metabolize carbohydrates and fats. Additional trace minerals are also plentiful when the avocados are grown in mineral rich soil. Calcium, Copper, Zinc, Manganese, Iron, and numerous others in small amounts.
Great protein source since 9 Amino Acids are found inside.
Note that avocados also contain:
Lutein, a carotenoid, which is thought to help protect against eye diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration.
Beta-sitosterol (a plant sterol), which is currently being studied for its ability to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Avocados should be eaten as part of a balanced diet.
How to Choose, Prepare, Store, and Eat Avocados
Selection— When purchasing avocados, look for fruits that are firm, heavy for their size, and bruise-free.
Preparation— Test for ripeness with a gentle squeeze. The fruit is ripe when it yields to gentle pressure but doesn’t remain dented. A firm avocado will ripen in a few days sitting on a kitchen counter. To shorten the ripening time, put the avocado in a paper bag. Wash it before you eat it.
To cut an avocado, slice it lengthwise around the seed and rotate the halves to separate them. Lift the seed out with a spoon and then peel the fruit with a knife (or your fingers). Or, you can just scoop the fruit out with a spoon and eat it that way.
Storage— Cut avocados will turn brown. To minimize this, squeeze lemon or lime juice on the exposed area. When you next eat the avocado, simply scrape off the brown parts. Store the fruit in the refrigerator for 3-4 days in plastic food storage containers or covered in plastic wrap.
Uses— The avocado is not used simply to make guacamole (though most would agree that it is delicious that way). Avocados can be a healthy substitute for butter or cream cheese (on bread, toast, bagels or English muffins) and for other commonly used ingredients (e.g., sour cream). Avocados also go well in sushi rolls, soups, salads, and as a side dish.