Yummy, soft, creamy avocados. One of my favorite veggies . . . er . . . fruits. Whatever.
I didn't grow up eating avocados. I don't really recall them ever being around. It wasn't until recent years that I have come to adore the avocado, learn how to know when it's ripe, how to cut the thing open, preserve half if I didn't want to use the whole thing, and how to make yummy guacamole. In recent years my family and I have gotten into the habit of adding it to meals on a regular basis, and frequently have a plethora of avocados on hand. Read further to learn the amazing health benefits of the avocado, how to select, store and cut them, along with ideas on how to serve them.
Avocados are Healthy Fat
The fat in avocados is extremely good for you. If you shy away from this high quality food due to its fat content, you're a loser, and I mean that in the most sincere and caring way. You're not only losing out on a way scrumptious food for no good reason, you're also losing out on the amazing health benefits provided by its fat.
The fat in avocados supports your anti-inflammatory system, which means it helps you heal from injury, but more importantly aids your body in warding off disease, such as heart disease and cancer, which are tied to chronic inflammation. If you have arthritis, the anti-inflammatory properties in avocado's phytosterols have been documented to be helpful. Oleic acid makes up half of the fruit's fat content and can increase our absorption of carotenoids. If you're like me, you're wondering, "What's a carotenoid and why do I need to absorb more of them?" Well, most of us know what an antioxidant is. Apparently carotenoids are powerful antioxidants, which means they boost your immune system. Antioxidants combat everything from the common cold to cancer.
So don't be a loser. Eat avocados!
More Healthy Stuff About Avocados
Avocados help regulate blood sugar, and even if you're not diabetic, its unhealthy for the body to experience sweeping highs and lows of blood sugar. I suppose that means we shouldn't ever have sugar either, but let's not get carried away here. Avocados are high in fiber, so a small amount satiates hunger while regulating our bowels. Sweet. They are high in omega 3 fatty acids, which, among other things are good for brain and nerve function.
So get some nerve. Eat avocados and be a smarty pants.
One cup of avocados has more muscle-healthy potassium than a medium banana, is a high source of heart-healthy fiber, bone-supportive vitamin K, and energy boosting B5. The folate in avocados produces cancer-fighting red blood cells, thwarts heart disease, fights depression, and boosts brain function. We all know vitamin C is great for the common cold, but it also promotes the immune system, fights cardiovascular disease and eye disease, and can even help thwart wrinkly skin.
Avocados are Happy Heart Food
You may have noticed that cardiovascular health has come up several times. Between the anti-inflammatory properties of its fat content, its fiber and vitamin C, avocados protect the heart in multiple ways. And I haven't even mentioned the monounsaturated fatty acid found in this excellent food, which is yet another advocate of a happy heart.
Choosing and Storing Avocados
Depending on the variety an avocado that is ripe and ready to eat is usually dark in color, however don't go by color alone. A ripe avocado should be soft but without any dark sunken spots or cracks. You can bump up the ripening time by putting an avocado in a paper bag at room temperature. My family loves avocados, so I typically buy a variety of avocados from very ripe to not ripe at all. This helps ensure we have a ripe avocado on hand as the week goes by. If you open an avocado and find some dark discoloration in the flesh that means it is overripe, however depending on how much there is, you may be able to remove those dark areas and save the good flesh.
Unripened avocados should be stored at room temperature and never in the fridge. Yet, once ripened, avocados can be stored in the refrigerator where they will stay fresh for up to a week.
Here's a tip I learned from my nephew. If you only need to use half an avocado, which I frequently do, leave the pit in the other half, wrap it with cellophane and refrigerate it. This will help keep the flesh from turning brown. Oxygen is part of what causes the browning, so both the pit and the cellophane prevent exposure to oxygen.
How to Cut and Remove Avocado Flesh
Using a sharp knife, cut the avocado in half pushing the knife into the flesh until it touches the pit. Keep the knife in contact with the pit and turn the avocado as you cut around the entire fruit, ending where you started. Twist the two halves of the avocado in opposite directions until they separate. The pit will remain in one half. If the avocado is ripe, the pit should be easy to remove. One way is to tap it with a sharp knife and wiggle it out. I find a heavy chef's knife works well for this. To remove the pit from the knife and throw it away, tap the handle of the knife against the edge of a trash can and the pit will fall off into the trash can.
To remove the flesh, first decide if you want it cut. With the flesh still inside the skin, cut it into slices lengthwise without cutting into the skin. To dice it, cut the opposite direction. Then scoop out the flesh with a spoon. An average soup spoon works well. Make sure you scoop out all the darker flesh closest to the skin, as this is the most nutritious part.
Another method, which ensures getting all of the nutritious outer layer of flesh, is to peel the halves as you would a banana. Be aware that an avocado that is not quite ripened will be difficult to peel.
Serving Ideas for Avocados
Avocados go well with many things. Here are some ideas.
• Slice it and use it fresh on salads, sandwiches, omelets, breakfast burritos, any kind of burrito, or garnish for black bean soup, chili, etc.
• Spread some on bread as an alternative to mayonnaise.
• My daughter likes to sprinkle salt on a halved avocado and eat it straight from the skin with a spoon.
• Make up a bowl of yummy guacamole. Mix up avocado, diced onion, tomato, salt and pepper. Add garlic and/or cilantro if you like. Lime juice helps keep the guac fresh, and in using it you require less salt.
• Use the guacamole to dip tortilla chips, pita chips, carrots, or other veggies
• Scoop some guacamole into a taco, burrito, or on a mexican salad
There's No Excuse For You
So in short, you really have no excuse not to eat this marvelous food. You know how fantastic it is for your health. You have been educated on how to cut it and get that goodness in you, and you are privy to a bountiful number of ways to consume it. So get to the store, purchase some avocados and consume them with due diligence.
Written by Jenna Dawn ©
Photos provided by FreeDigitalPhotos.net