By: Leanne Ely
If I could be married to a food, avocado might be the lucky guy. So delicious and healthy, this tree fruit (also known as the Alligator Pear) is not only an incredibly high quality source of fat, but it’s also very versatile.
I enjoy avocado on its own with a simple drizzle of balsamic vinegar and a dash of salt and pepper, but it’s also yummy sliced in a salad, spread on a sandwich instead of mayo and, of course, as the leading star in a big bowl of guacamole (my favorite snack!).
When I eat avocado, I know I’m consuming essential fatty acids and providing myself with a clean source of fuel and lots of important minerals. There was a time when we were told we shouldn’t eat avocados . . . that they’re too fatty. Now we know that we need the good fats that are found in foods like avocado. It’s not fat that makes us fat—It’s sugar!
Avocados have been cultivated in the United States since the early 20th century, primarily in California and Florida. However, they’ve been enjoyed by folks in South and Central America for the past 10,000 years or so.
There are many different varieties of avocados out there, but the one we’re most familiar with in the US is the creamy, rich Hass variety. Other types you may see during the fall and winter months are Zutano, Bacon and Fuerto. Mmm, avocado and bacon!
So, what health benefits do we gain from avocado? Let’s take a look.
Vitamins and minerals. Avocado is high in vitamins E, B6, B6, C and K. It’s also a good source of magnesium, potassium, folate and dietary fiber.
Carotenoids and carotenoid absorption. We often think carrots and orange, not green when we think carotenoids, but the gorgeous green avocado can increase the absorption of carotenoids by anywhere from 200-400%. When you slice avocado onto a salad, or drizzle your greens with avocado oil, your body can make better use of two important carotenoid antioxidants: beta-carotene and lycopene. So, think avocado when you think salad and you’ll get that much more good out of what you’re eating. The same goes when you add avocado to salsa! Avocado contains carotenoid antioxidants as well, mostly in the dark green flesh right beneath the skin.
Anti-inflammatory. Avocado fat contains many many (many) nutrients that help keep inflammation in the body under control. If you suffer from arthritis, add this luscious fruit to your diet. STAT!
Cardiovascular health. Avocado can help improve many aspects of heart health, from inflammation to blood flat levels.
Avocado can do lots more in the body, from regulating blood sugar to preventing cancer of the skin, mouth and prostate!
So much good underneath that ugly green skin!
Now, keep in mind that you do want to watch how much avocado you consume. You don’t want to overload on calories. But, I don’t want you to be afraid of the fat that’s inside an Alligator pear.
Avocado shopping, storage and preparation tips
When you’re shopping for the perfectly ripe avocado, try gently squeezing the ends. If you have a little bit of give, that’s a sign that the fruit is ripe. If it’s very soft, it’s probably overripe and full of brown spots. If it’s hard, it’s under ripe and needs time on the counter before slicing into it.
If you need your avocado to ripen quickly, put it in a brown paper bag with a banana. Magic happens in there!
The best way to open an avocado is to slice it lengthwise with a sharp knife, and gently twist the fruit and pull the halves away from one another. Take your knife and nick the pit, twisting it with the knife to remove it. Use a spoon to scrape all of the beautiful green flesh out from beneath the peel and enjoy!
To store your avocado once it’s already been open, squeeze the exposed flesh with a bit of fresh lemon juice and store, wrapped in plastic wrap, in the fridge. Eat it within a day or so.
One of my favorite things about the 30 Day Paleo Challenge is how we help each other. Here’s a post from the private Facebook group that’s part of the challenge… “Our e-mail from Saving Dinner had a recipe for Paleo Beef Danube from the new winter 30 day paleo challenge… it looks yummy… but I have a question: Are green peas legumes? (I thought they were legumes, so I have avoided them for 5 years… so now I am wondering about it.) Thanks.” What a great question, and yes, it was answered by myself and other PCs (paleo challengers). Click here to join the challenge, join the conversation, and join the transformation!