By Katherine Brooking, MS, R
Ah, the avocado! Forbidden fruit? Or all-star nutrition? Once criticized for being a high-fat food, research in the last few decades has proven that avocado is a nutritional potency. Check out 6 reasons to love this versatile fruit:
1. They are packed with nutrients. Avocados provide about 20 vitamins and minerals, phytonutrients including vitamin E, vitamin C, folic acid, fiber, iron, potassium, lutein and beta-carotene. What’s more, they are a ‘nutrient booster’, allowing our bodies to absorb more fat-fighting nutrients, such as vitamins A, D, E and K, into foods we eat with fruit.
2. They can help your waistline. More good news: Avocados are low in calories. A fifth of a medium avocado has 50 calories and is a smart substitute for butter, mayonnaise, cheese, bacon and other high-calorie toppings. Replace a slice of cheese for 2 tablespoons avocado, and you’ll cut calories and fat in half!
3. Choosing a perfect avocado is easier than you think. Avocados mature after being harvested. The best way to know if one is ripe and ready for immediate use is to gently squeeze the fruit in the palm of your hand. The ripe fruit, ready to eat, will be firm yet but will yield to gentle pressure. Do not judge by color alone. Some varieties have the light green bark, even when ripe. To speed up ripening keep the avocados in a paper bag until you are ready to eat. Place an apple or kiwis in the bag to speed up the process because these fruits emit natural ethylene gas, which will aid the ripening process.
4. Yes, avocados contain fat – however, fats in avocados are mostly from the healthy monounsaturated variety to the heart. According to the American Heart Association, monounsaturated fat can lower “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and are beneficial when consumed in moderation.
5. They can help your blood pressure. 1/5 of a medium avocado provides 140g of potassium or 4% of the recommended daily value. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends consuming a diet that is high in potassium, which decreases the effect of salt on blood pressure and may also reduce the risk of developing kidney stones.
6. They can be stored after cutting. You may think that once you cut or open an avocado you have to eat it right away. While it is true that if left unprotected, after cutting the avocados will turn brown naturally, you can extend its freshness after cutting, wipe the avocado cut with lemon or lemon juice and refrigerate it. Storing this way will help keep the avocado fresh for a day or more.