The more you get to know about avocado the more you’ll realize it’s a true super food. Plus, it’s full of healthy fat from a whole food source, they taste great too. You can enjoy them savory or sweet and everything in between. Even though avocado is high in fat, it’s all healthy, good for you fat that you need in your diet.
Avocados have been used as food and for other things, like added to beauty treatments, for several thousand years all over the world. Today, the top three producers of avocado are Mexico, Chile and the United States.
Even with the US being a large producer, over 500,000 metric tons of avocado are imported each year to add to the 200,000 metric tons grown in the USA. To put it simply, we love our avocado. You can find it in all types of food and beauty products and for good reason. It’s good for you. It tastes delicious, and it satisfies you like nothing else can.
Did you know that the avocado is classified as a fruit? The fruit is really considered a berry, which makes it a super healthy choice to add to your diet. There are a few different types but the one most common in North America is the Hass Avocado which is native to Mexico and Central America. They are light green in color which turns darker, rougher and leathery as it ripens. The flesh inside is light greenish yellow. The flesh is smooth, creamy and oily. They have a large stone type seed in the middle which should be removed before eating or blending.
Each cup has approximately 240 calories and the following makeup by percentage.
• Pantotheic Acid – 42
• Fiber – 40
• Vitamin K – 35
• Copper – 31
• Folate – 30
• Vitamin B6 – 23
• Vitamin E – 21
• Potassium – 21
• Vitamin C – 20
• Fat — 70
Plus a whole host of important minerals like iron and calcium. All of which are important for your health. They may seem high in fat but remember that the fat is mostly monounsaturated health fat and there is no cholesterol.
VARIETIES OF AVOCADO
The other varieties of avocado include:
Fuerte – Grown mostly in the winter in California, this variety is just as healthy as the others, it has smooth skin and has about the same nutrient content as the other types.
Reed – This is grown in the summer in California. You’re likely to only find it in California but you should try it when you’re visiting. Many people love eating this variety plain just in slices.
Slimcado – This is not a fraken-fruit at all. This is a naturally grown avocado variety grown in Florida which has 35 percent less fat. While you need not fear the fat in avocados if you like to eat a lot this is a good choice to put on salads. They are larger than Hass and have a smooth green skin.
AVOCADO NUTRIENTS & BENEFITS
Let’s look closer into the nutrients that make up an avocado and its health benefits.
• Healthy Fats – Avocados provide slow-burning monounsaturated fats that help improve your health. Healthy fats help lower cholesterol, help you stay full, and improve your skin and hair. Eating avocados will help lower your triglycerides and make you a lot healthier.
• Reduces Cholesterol – Avocado has a lot of phytosterols which helps reduce cholesterol. Unrefined avocado oil is the best source of the phytosterols because there are more phytosterols per serving.
• Anti-Inflammatory – One of the things that make people sick is inflammation. Avocado is rich in substances that help reduce inflammation such as beta-sitosterol which also is believed to have a positive effect on immunity.
• Antioxidant – Full of beta-carotene, alpha-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin and other anti-oxidants that protect your system from free radicals that damage your skin and organs leading to signs of aging, cancer and other diseases.
• Rich in Vitamin C & E — You know that vitamin C is also an antioxidant and it’s found in abundance in the avocado at about 15 mg per cup. That’s a full ¼ of your recommended daily intake. Plus, there is a good amount of vitamin E, also an antioxidant which prevents against heart attacks and strokes.
• Great Source of Vitamin B – Important for good health, folic acid and other B vitamins lower the chances of stroke, heart attack, mental issues and more. Even chronic pain suffers experience fewer nerve pain issues when they get enough B vitamins.
• Improves Metabolism – Vitamin K is an important nutrient that you don’t always hear much about, but it’s an important part of what makes up an avocado. It’s responsible for proper blood clotting and is a huge factor in protecting against heart issues.
• Get Important Minerals – Outside of everything else you’ve learned so far about avocados they are full of minerals that you need in your diet. Pesticides aren’t a concern since they have a harder outer skin they’re safe to eat and if grown in healthy soil they’ll be high in magnesium, potassium, iodine, calcium, and iron.
• Improves Digestion – Due to the 8 grams of fiber per cup, along with healthy amounts of fat, and low in sugar the avocado doesn’t impair your digestion and in fact, aids it. They fill you up without making you bloated and fat.
• Great for Your Eyes – The nutrients, lutein, and zeaxanthin are very important to eye health and can help reduce the risk of contracting macular degeneration and cataracts. This a great thing for anyone worried about these conditions.
• Cancer Preventative – Some studies have shown that incorporating avocado into your diet can help lower the side effects of cancer treatments and also inhibit the growth of some types of cancer cells.
• Reduce Chronic Pain – Some studies point to the effectiveness of an extract that you can get from avocado to be effective in reducing pain caused by diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.
• Weight Loss – Eating healthy fats can be satiating and help you eat fewer calories over all. But, most of the time eating fat is not good for you. However, eating natural plant-based fat is good for you and only improves health rather than takes away from it.
Avocados are also very versatile; you can use them raw or cooked. You can create sweet or savory dishes that will amaze your family, friends, and guests. They contain more potassium than even bananas and should be part of a healthy diet whether you’re eating paleo or vegan.
What’s more, there are some benefits to avocado that you may not realize.
• It’s Plant-Based – More people are turning to plant-based diets each year. Avocados play a major role in healthy plant-based diets.
• It’s Versatile – You can eat them cut up, blended, tossed in, and as a topping in soups, stews, casseroles, and salads. You can even eat them with fruit. You really cannot go wrong with avocado.
• They’re Easy to Use – Cutting into an avocado is simple and easy. You want to ensure that they are fully ripe first. You can tell if they’re ripe by looking at the skin. Purchase avocados while firm and unripe, leave out on your countertop, and once ripe – which you can tell by the fact they become moderately soft and darker in color — you must eat as soon as possible.
You don’t have to be bored eating them either. There is more to avocado than guacamole, which is delicious of course, but you can make a lot of other things from them. Don’t be afraid to experiment and add it to everything. Eating as much as 1/4 of an avocado per day is perfectly healthy.
USES OF AVOCADO
Try using avocado in these ways:
In a high-speed blender, add sweetener, ripe avocado, a splash of almond milk, vanilla, and cocoa powder until fluffy and then pulse until smooth to avoid warming it. Then enjoy without guilt, for a boost of nutrient-rich deliciousness.
Grilled Avocado Sandwiches
You can do this in a pan or in a Panini maker. Instead of meat or butter spread your bread with fresh avocado before cooking. You can also put large slices inside any sandwich for a delicious and creamy flavor.
Soup & Salad Topper
Chop fresh avocado into small bite-sized squares and use as a garnish on your salad or soup. It will add a needed creamy flavor to your fat-free dressings and healthy soups.
Home Made Dressing
You can use the creaminess of avocado as the fat in a homemade dressing in place of mayo or other fattening ingredients to make dressing instantly more healthy and flavorful. Try mixing, in a blender, a whole avocado, a clove of garlic, lime juice, sea salt, pepper and a splash of water if needed for a great and yummy healthy dressing.
Eating avocado is a great way to improve your health, but it also tastes great. The little added touch of using avocado in your cooking will make you seem almost like a gourmet chef instead of a home cook.
Using Avocado on Your Body
Besides being easy to use in cooking, avocado is also good to use topically. Try these tips for great hair and skin.
• Soften Knees and Elbows – Before tossing the skin rub them on your knees and elbows to soften your skin and act as a natural lotion.
• Reduce Sunburn Pain – When you get too much sun you can rub avocado on your skin to help stop the burn and treat the skin by moisturizing it thus cutting down on scars.
• Reduce the Signs of Wrinkles – Skin care can be expensive so a dollar or two on a ripe avocado is a bargain. Especially when all you have to do is blend it in your food processor and then rub on your skin. Let sit for 10 minutes while you relax before washing off.
• Moisturize Hair – If you have dry hair and scalp rubbing an avocado into your hair, letting sit for 10 minutes before washing out will make a huge difference. The fat in the avocado will make your hair super soft.
• Get Rid of Calluses – If you have calluses on your feet, you can rub straight avocado on your feet, cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 20 minutes before taking a shower and washing it off. Do this for a week and your feet will be smooth and soft.
Try these treatments at home to see how it works for you. Soon you’ll come up with your own treatments. Remember that anything you put on your skin should be edible in the first place. After all, it gets absorbed into your skin which is the largest organ of your body. So, what could be better than choosing something right from the produce counter?
ABOUT AVOCADO OIL
Outside of the actual avocado, you can also get a lot of uses from avocado oil. You want to buy cold-pressed, unrefined and unprocessed oil to get the most benefits. It’s very versatile for baking sweet or savory dishes and using for all purposes including, because the flavor profile is very light, as oil for your salad.
• In Baking – You can use avocado oil as a substitute for butter in baking. This will help your baked treat become healthier because of the fact that avocado oil is a perfectly balanced healthy fat with no cholesterol combination.
• As a Topping – If you like butter on your popped corn or even your toast, you can use avocado oil instead. It tastes great and will make you feel satisfied without clogging your arteries. You only need a little. You’ll love it.
• Replacement for Coconut Oil – While the benefits of coconut oil are known, some people still want to avoid saturated fat. You can use avocado oil in the same way as you use coconut oil except it will not harden so don’t use it for candy making.
• Replacement for Olive Oil – Some people don’t realize it but olive oil has a lot of saturated fat, so if you want to avoid that, use avocado oil anyplace you’d use olive oil such as in salad dressings, and cooking.
You can actually use avocado oil in every way that you can use other oils. It has a light flavor that can really satisfy your taste buds, while not being overly full of saturated fats and cholesterol. What’s more is that you can also use avocado oil on your skin and hair just like you can the full fruit.
TIPS FOR PICKING AND KEEPING AVOCADOS
While avocado is really good, it can be tricky to keep around at its most edible state. That’s because once it’s ripe you really need to eat it within a day or two or it’ll get brown, slimy and very unappealing.
The best thing to do is to buy your avocados when they’re firm and underripe and ripen them at home. If you do buy ripe avocado plan to use it that day. If you buy them in various stages of ripening then you can always have a couple on hand to use in cooking and beauty.
You can buy the firm avocado and keep on the table in a fruit basket to ripen or place in a paper bag to ripen faster. Once ripe you can put them in the fridge for up to a week but it’s best to use as soon as possible. To store a cut avocado put in a sealed container, sprinkle with lemon juice and put into the fridge for up to a day or two. The lemon juice will prevent the avocado from browning from oxidation.
TIPS FOR USING AND PREPARING AVOCADOS
As mentioned, avocados can be tricky. You need to be careful to avoid bruising the flesh or it’ll turn slimy and brown. To do that, you use a stainless steel knife for cutting. The best way to cut it is to slice the outer flesh lengthwise, and then twist to open revealing the pit or seed inside. You can remove the pit safely with a spoon, peel the flesh from the skin, and then simply slice the avocado the way you want to use it.
In most recipes, the avocado will be added last, while fresh instead of cooked into the food. This is the best way to get the most health benefits from the avocado. There are recipes that require cooked avocado but the most flavorful will be raw unheated room temperature avocado. If you wish, you can warm avocado in a microwave for a few seconds without ruining it. This is a good trick for adding it to warm dishes.
CONCERNS ABOUT AVOCADOS
If you are allergic to latex, potatoes, tomatoes, or kiwi you may also be allergic or have a reaction to avocados, so if you’ve never tried one, and have any of these allergies be careful and start slowly. Not everyone who has these allergies reacts to avocado but it’s good to be aware and tread carefully if you have those types of allergies already.
THE TAKE AWAY
The important thing to remember about avocado is that it’s a healthy, whole food that you can and should incorporate into your diet. Plus, it’s easy to do since you mostly just add it sliced or chopped raw to your dishes.
You can use the oil in place of any type of oil in any type of cooking sweet or savory, baked or not. You can also use the oil and flesh in your beauty care regime. Since avocados are relatively cheap per serving, it’s more than worth it to try them every way you can. You can use the flesh in all sorts of ways.
Try them in your morning eggs, on top of your salad, make a sweet chocolate pudding in your food processor or blender and yes, eat lots of fresh homemade guacamole. Feel good about eating them because they are really good for you. With over 8 grams of fiber per serving, you can’t go wrong.