Avocados are a nutritious food, there’s no argument there.They’re an excellent source of fibre, B vitamins, vitamins E and K, magnesium and potassium. One-half of an avocado, for example, supplies 163 mcg of folate (almost half a day's worth), a B vitamins that makes and repairs DNA in cells.
Avocados are high in fat and, as a result, they are a concentrated source of calories. One medium avocado delivers 30 grams of fat – almost 8 teaspoons worth – and 322 calories.
The good news, though, is that two-thirds of the fat in an avocado is monounsaturated, the kind that studies show helps promote healthy blood cholesterol levels, helps your body absorb some vitamins and reduce inflammation in the body.
Nutrition Information for 1/2 avocado (100 g):
|Monounsaturated fat||9.8 g|
|Vitamin E||2 mg|
|Vitamin K||21 mcg|
Source: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference (Release 28, September 2015).
The avocado was known early on as alligator pear, probably due to the pebbly textured skin of some varieties. The two most widely available avocado varieties are the pebbly textured black Haas and the green Fuerte, which has a thin, smooth skin. Depending on the variety, avocados can weigh up to 4 pounds! Some varieties are rounded while others are more of a teardrop shape.
Here are a few of the avocado varieties available today. Keep in mind that some of these may only be available in regions where avocados are grown such as California and Florida.
Bacon - a green-skinned variety of medium size and light taste. The skin is smooth, green and thin. The flesh is yellow-green. Available late fall into spring.
Fuerte - an established favourite, the Fuerte is a high-quality avocado, with a smooth, thin green skin. It is medium in size and the flesh is creamy and pale green. Available late fall through spring.
Gwen - is a plump, rounded fruit that ranges from medium to large in size. Its green skin is pebbly and thick but still pliable. The flesh is gold-green and creamy. Available late winter through summer.
Haas - is the only avocado available year-round. It is known for its skin that turns from green to purplish-black when it is ripe. Size ranges from medium to large. It is oval in shape and the skin is pebbly and thick but pliable. The flesh is pale green with a creamy texture.
To learn about more varieties, visit California Avocados.
Select avocados that are heavy for their size and have unblemished skins.
If an avocado yields slightly to gentle pressure, it is ripe enough to eat right away. If it's rock hard, it will need a few days to ripen.
Even if pressing an avocado leaves a small dent, it will still be suitable for dips and recipes that require mashed avocado. Avoid avocados that are very soft with large dents; this means it's overripe and the flesh won't be edible.
Ripe whole avocados should be stored in the refrigerator and used within two to three days.
If you have leftover avocado, mash the remaining fruit, add 1/2 teaspoon lemon or lime juice per half of mashed avocado and store in an airtight container. Lay plastic wrap directly on the surface of the mixture before putting on the lid. Stored this way, mashed avocado can keep for two days.
Unripe or hard avocados will ripen at room temperature in about 3 to 6 days. To speed the process, place several avocados together in a paper bag. You can add a tomato to encourage even faster ripening.
You can freeze mashed avocado in an airtight container for up to two months. Add lemon or lime juice and other seasonings, if desired, before freezing.
Cut the avocado lengthwise around the seed. Twist the halves in opposite directions to separate them. Carefully slip a spoon between the seed and the fruit and work the seed out. Or you can use a sharp chef's knife to carefully whack the seed so that the knife is solidly stuck in it, and then pull the seed out. Slip a spoon between the skin and the fruit and scoop away from the peel.
Once avocado flesh is cut and exposed to air, it will turn a grayish colour. Adding fresh lemon or lime juice helps prevents discoloration.
When many of us think avocado we immediately think guacamole! True, avocado is the essential ingredient in this creamy dip but that's not the only way to eat it. Avocado is delicious eaten on its own, sprinkled with fresh lemon or lime juice. It is also a tasty addition to soups, salads, pizza, tacos, sandwiches and eggs dishes.
Healthy Ways to Enjoy Avocados
- Avocado and eggs are perfect partners for omelettes, frittatas and breakfast egg wraps.
- Sprinkle diced avocado over scrambled eggs instead of cheese.
- Try this recipe for an Avocado Smoothie.
- Spread mashed avocado on whole grain toast instead of butter or margarine.
- Toss diced avocado in a leafy green or black bean salad.
- Usw mashed avocado instead of mayonnaise as a spread for sandwiches and wraps.
- Top soups with diced avocado.
- Avocado and crabmeat or shrimp, make a delicious sandwich filling or salad topping. Try this recipe!
- Serve grilled avocado with feta cheese on pizza instead of pepperoni and mozzarella cheese. Try this delicous recipe.
- Toss salad with avocado slices and balsamic vinegar instead of a creamy dressing.
- Try avocado salsa as a condiment for grilled chicken or fish.
- Mash potatoes with avocado instead of sour cream or butter.
- Try avocado soup for something different. Here's a recipe.
- Pair avocado with pasta.
- Serve guacamole with baked pita chips.
- Snack on cubed avocado, seasoned with lemon or lime juice and salt.
- Dipe pieces of fresh fruit in a sweet avocado dip.
Did You Know?
- Tiny Fuerte cocktail avocados are the size of a small gherkin and are called avocaditos.
- Avocados are actually a fruit not a vegetable.
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