Avocados: Nutrient-Dense and Delicious?>

Avocados: Nutrient-Dense and Delicious

by Berkeley Wellness

Avocados are often considered a “vegetable” because they are widely used in salads and salsas. In fact, the avocado is a tropical fruit that has been cultivated for thousands of years. A favorite of the Aztecs, the avocado is native to Central America. Avocados were first cultivated in the United States in the mid-1800s in Florida and California, where domestic avocado production still thrives. California produces nearly 90 percent of the domestic crop, and the two states together provide a year-round supply that adds up to the world’s largest commercial production.

Avocados: Nutrition

Avocados provide ample amounts of folate (and other B vitamins), as well as potassium, magnesium, vitamin K, and copper. They’re rich in antioxidants, including vitamins C and E. Plus, they’re loaded with fiber: Each half has five to eight grams of fiber, the most of all fruits.

Although the avocado is high in fat—110 to 180 calories per half— its fat is mostly monounsaturated. The only other fruit that has comparable amounts of this beneficial fat is the olive. Research shows that when monounsaturated fat is substituted for saturated fat, it helps to lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels. Still, because they are high in calories, it is prudent to avoid eating large amounts of these velvety, nutrient-rich fruits.

For a full listing of nutrients, see Avocados in the National Nutrient Database.

Types of Avocados

Hass avocados are the most popular variety by far, but some two dozen avocado varieties grow in California and Florida. They range in size from a few ounces to several pounds, with skins bright green to black, some smooth, some pebbly, in texture. The Florida fruit tend to be larger and

How to ripen avocados

If avocados need ripening, you can speed up the process by placing them in a paper bag with an apple or banana. If you put hard avocados in the refrigerator, they ripen only very slowly.

How to Choose the Best Avocados

Select heavy, unblemished fruit. Most markets sell hard, unripe avocados, which should be bought three to six days before you plan to use them to allow time for ripening. But if an avocado yields slightly to gentle pressure, it is already ripe enough to slice. If pressing the fruit leaves a

How to use avocados

To pit an avocado, cut it lengthwise or crosswise all the way around and twist the two halves apart. Use a teaspoon to pry out the large seed. To skin the fruit, place the halves face down and pull off the peel like a banana skin. (If the flesh is very soft, scoop it out of the hull with a spoon.) If the skin is too tough to peel easily, use a paring knife to score it into peelable strips. Slice the flesh thinly or chop it into chunks.

The flesh of a cut avocado, exposed to the air, turns dark within a few minutes. This process does not affect nutrition or flavor, but makes the flesh look less appetizing. To delay darkening, rub slices with lemon or lime juice, or add the juice to mashed avocado. Plastic wrap pressed down onto mashed avocado, with all the air bubbles pressed out, will deter darkening. For longer storage of unused avocado halves, you can place them, peel side down, on top of coarsely-cut onion pieces. Then put it in a sealed container and refrigerate. The same sulfenic acids in onion that make you cry will keep the avocado from turning brown.

3 Ways to Serve Avocados

Think avocados are just for guacamole? Think again. Avocados can be served with hot dishes, and even substitute for mayonnaise.Avocados are rarely served hot because they can develop a bitter flavor when cooked over high heat. However, they nicely complement hot food. Fan avocado slices over broiled chicken breasts, toss avocado