Looking for a good way to embrace a healthy diet? Add avocados to your list of super foods.
Avocados are ancient fruits that have been cultivated for centuries. But within the last 20 years consumption of avocados according to the USDA has jumped from one pound per person to seven pounds. The secret is out. Think guacamole, avocado toast, salads, sandwiches, and baked goods. The avocado has become a treasured culinary delight packed with health benefits.
While there are many avocado cultivars, Hass avocados (pronounced like “pass”) are the most popular being known for their creamy texture, nutty flavor, and generous size. They account for 80 percent of avocados produced in the United States with 95 percent of Hass avocados being grown in California. You’ll recognize a ripe Hass by its dark, bumpy skin. Smaller avocados, usually have a greener, smoother skin and may also darken as they ripen.
Hass avocados claim an accidental beginning when in 1926 a California postman, named Rudolph Hass, bought avocado seedlings to grow in his yard. One stubborn seedling didn’t immediately produce but when it did, the avocados were larger, darker, and richer in flavor than the others. Hass realized he was growing an exceptional avocado and ultimately partnered with a grower to promote the variety. Over time it gained popularity and became his legacy.
Today the avocado industry continues to research new avocado varieties that are more resistant to pests and growing challenges such as the climate change.
With their dark, bumpy skin you might not think of an avocado as a fruit packed with multiple health benefits but cut one open and it becomes a super star in a healthy diet.
According to a comprehensive review of Hass avocado clinical trials and observational studies, Hass avocados have multiple health benefits including
Reducing cardiovascular disease risk in healthy overweight or obese adults with elevated lipid levels by promoting epithelial vascular health for better blood flow.
Lowering the risk of becoming overweight or obese, supporting weight loss, and reducing visceral fat.
Improving cognitive function especially executive function.
Stimulating and improving microbiome health in overweight and obese adults.
Positive health benefits come from four nutrition factors including…
- A positive oleic acid ratio of 1:6 saturated fat to oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat like olive oil.
- A combination of water soluble and insoluble fibers that support gut health.
- An excellent source of lutein, a carotenoid essential for eye health, that when combined with other vegetables becomes more bioavailable.
- A relatively low caloric density. One-third of an avocado is roughly 80 calories.
Spring through fall are the best seasons to find abundant fresh avocadoes. The best way to tell if an avocado is ripe and ready for immediate use is to gently squeeze the fruit in the palm of your hand. Ripe, ready-to-eat fruit will be firm but will yield to gentle pressure. To learn more, CLICK HERE.
If you need to hurry the ripening process, place an unripe or hard avocado in a brown paper bag with an apple or a kiwi. Those fruits produce a natural ethylene gas that hastens the ripening process.
If you have a piece of cut avocado you aren’t using, lightly brush it with lemon or lime juice or vinegar then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate to keep it fresh and from browning.
Microwaving is not recommended to soften an avocado. Flavor and texture are damaged rendering the avocado not especially fun to eat.
Homemade guacamole is one of the freshest ways to enjoy any time of the year. Serve it with any kind of meal, use it as a dip, spread on toast, a sandwich, hamburger, or scrambled eggs. It’s always a crowd pleaser and a healthy one at that!
4 large, ripe avocados
Juice of one lime
1 serrano chili, diced
3 tablespoons minced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro (optional)
1/8 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 tomato, cut in 1/4-inch dice
- In a medium bowl, mash avocado with lime, chili, onion, garlic, and cilantro (if using) until guacamole is mostly smooth and only small chunks of avocado remain. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Stir in tomatoes, gently, without mashing them. Serve immediately or chill by covering the top of the guacamole directly with plastic wrap to prevent browning.
For detailed information about avocados, check the California Avocado Commission website at: CLICK HERE.
Written by: Mimi Cunningham, Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist, Diabetes Educator
Mimi Cunningham is a dietitian-nutritionist living in Eagle, Idaho. Her nutrition specialty is diabetes education and management. She loves writing about embracing healthy eating as fun plus a route to good health. She serves as a member of the Idaho Foodbank board of directors addressing food insecurity as a challenge to good health for Idaho children and adults.
On behalf of Smart Strategies for Successful Living, our sincerest appreciation goes to Mimi Cunningham for her contribution to our community website and commitment to healthy living and aging.
Avocados: Recipes, Lifestyle, Nutrition: CLICK HERE
Source: California Avocados
Avocado Imports and Growth: CLICK HERE.
Source: U.S.Department of Agriculture
The Long, Lonely Quest to Breed the Ultimate Avocado: CLICK HERE