Avocado, alligator pear, or as the ancient Aztecs said “ahuacatl,” no matter what you call this buttery, creamy, versatile fruit, it tastes delicious!
Avocados are the fruit of an evergreen tree, Persea americana. These trees can grow to an amazing 65 feet. Avocados vary in color and size, depending on their variety. In general, avocados have a green skin and buttery light green fruit surrounding a large brown seed.
Eating Avocados Can Make Other Veggies Healthier
New research has shown that the fat found in fresh avocados or avocado oil can help your body absorb two vital nutrients found in veggies: lycopene and beta-carotene. Adding avocado or avocado oil to your salad can boost your absorption by 200-400%! Lycopene and beta-carotene are fat-soluble carotenoid antioxidants, meaning that they need to be paired with fats for the best absorption. Adding avocados into your favorite salsa will increase your absorption of carotenoids from it’s fresh veggies too! Plus, avocados are filled with carotenoids of their own.
Don’t Be Afraid of the Fat In Avocados
You might have heard that avocados are fattening or seen the high amount of fat they contain on a nutritional analysis. Don’t worry. The fat makeup of avocados is unique - and good for you! Nearly 85% of the calories in avocados come from fat. There are two reasons why this fat is not going to hurt you as long as you enjoy avocados in moderation, as part of a well-balanced diet:
The polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols (PFAs) and phytosterols in avocados are anti-inflammatories, reducing the inflammation throughout your body and providing relief from inflammation-related conditions, such as arthritis.
More than half of the fat in avocados is oleic acid. This monounsaturated fatty acid is the key to greater absorption of carotenoid and can decrease your risk of developing heart disease.
Research has shown that avocados can help regulate your blood sugar. They are low on the glycemic index and low in carbs. When avocados are still on the tree, almost 60% of the carbs they contain are 7-carbon sugars. These sugars could help control how your body metabolizes glucose. As the avocado ripens, the percentage of 7-carbon sugars they contain decreases.
Avocados Target Cancer Cells
Preliminary research shows that avocados target cancerous cells and increase the amount of oxidative stress they are under, causing them to die prematurely. Avocados also give healthy cells a boost by sending them larger amounts of anti-inflammatories and antioxidants. Further research is necessary to determine exactly how the nutrients in avocados interact with cancerous cells.
Choose the Best Avocado
A ripe avocado should be without cracks or indented areas and give slightly under pressure. Look for avocados with a bit of a neck, this usually means they ripened on the tree and have the most delicious flavor. California Hass avocados have a dark green or black skin that looks and feels textured. Fuerte avocados boast an intensely green, smooth skin. Florida avocados are the largest and contain the least amount of fat and calories per ounce. However, their flavor and texture is inferior to the California Hass avocado.
Peel Your Avocado the Right Way
Researchers have found that the dark green flesh found just below the avocado skin contains the most carotenoids. You want to make sure to keep all of that dark flesh intact so that you can enjoy its healthy boost!
The California Avocado Commission recommends peeling an avocado like you would peel a banana. Cut around the avocado lengthwise, letting your knife go through the buttery flesh, down to the seed. Gently place one hand on each avocado half and begin to twist them carefully in opposite directions. They should separate. Carefully remove the seed with a spoon or your knife. Cut each avocado half in half again lengthwise and gently peel off the skin, banana-style. Most of the antioxidant-packed, dark green flesh should still be on the fruit.
Worse case scenario: use a spoon to scrape off any of the flesh that has stuck to the skin and add it to your recipe or just eat it from the spoon, as is.
Keep Your Avocado Fresh and Bright
Do not refrigerate your avocado until you are sure that it is ripe. Put your unripened avocados in a paper bag on the counter to get them ripe. An avocado will stay good in the refrigerator for up to one week.
To preserve the bright green color of your avocado’s flesh, do not prepare it until just before eating. As avocado flesh has contact with air, it begins to turn an unpleasant brown color. Sprinkle your avocado with vinegar or lemon juice to prevent browning.
Cooking avocado destroys its valuable and unique fats, so the best way to enjoy it is with the least amount of cooking. Try to keep it as raw as possible. If mixing avocado into a cooked dish, such as rice or soup, wait until the dish is fully prepared and then add it.