Avocado

By EAT-SMARTER
Updated on 01. Jun. 2020

Avocados are more than just delicious-- they're heart-healthy as well!

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Avocados...

  • ...provides valuable fatty acids: The fat in avocado consists of monounsaturated fatty acids or omega-3 fatty acids, which have particularly beneficial effects on the heart and circulation and can lower cholesterol levels, among other benefits.
  • ...strengthens the nerves: Avocado’s large doses of lecithin and B vitamins have been known to effectively aid with stress and anxiety.
  • ...is good for the muscles: For a fruit, the avocado contains a relatively large portion of magnesium at around 30 milligrams. This mineral supports the build-up of muscle tissue, helps against cramps and promotes healthy nerve function.
  • ...takes care of the gums: Avocado has long been recommended by naturopaths and some dentists as a means of preventing against gum loss and gum inflammation.
  • ...keeps you young for longer: With around 1.3 milligrams of vitamin E, avocado helps protect our body cells from the influence of harmful free radicals and thus from premature skin aging. Avocados can combat premature signs of aging such as wrinkles.
  • ...protect the eyes: Two substances in avocado help to relieve eye strain and ensure good eyesight; lutein, a secondary plant substance which protects the eyes from harmful UV radiation, among other things, and vitamin A, which is known to help support healthy eye function.
  • ...aren’t for everyone Some people are allergic to avocados, and after eating them may experience symptoms such as shortness of breath, weakness and nausea.

What You Should Know About Avocados

Just 40 years ago, few people in the United States knew about avocados. Today, it’s one of the country’s favorite and most-consumed exotic fruits. This trajectory was to be expected; the avocado isn’t "green gold" for nothing. Its pale green flesh melts on the tongue and is so mild and flavorful it’s hard not to like it. For a fruit, the avocado has an unusually delicate flavor, which is why it is often prepared or combined with spices.

Experts estimate that around 400 different varieties of avocado grow worldwide. They can vary quite widely in color, shape and weight. Some avocado varieties weigh between 7-14 oz, while others can reach up to 4 pounds.

Depending on the variety, the skin of an avocado can be black, dark green or brown-red and can be both smooth and heavily nubbed. In every avocado, however, the green flesh encircles a hard, large round seed, which is not to be eaten.

Origins

The avocado is originally from tropical Central America, where it has been known and appreciated for at least 10,000 years. Imports come from South and Central America, especially in winter. Avocado is also cultivated in other countries such as Mexico and around the Mediterranean Sea, and especially in Israel.

Season

The avocado is imported yearround.

Flavor

Ripe avocados taste mildly aromatic and have a very soft, buttery flesh that yields slightly under gentle pressure.

Find all our Avocado Recipes here.

How Healthy Are Avocados Really?

It's true that avocados contain considerable amounts of fat, however these delicious exotic fruits are by no means fattening. Rather, avocados support the metabolism by breaking down fat and providing our body with valuable nutrients. This is mainly due to the enzyme lipase, which controls the melting of fat during digestion, and also in the fatty tissue itself. Some researchers even believe it is likely that the lipase prevents the avocado fat from being stored as bodily fat, and thus accelerates the overall fat breakdown so that you can lose weight with avocados

Apart from about 30 percent of healthy unsaturated fatty acids, avocados contain a lot of lecithin and vitamin B, which makes them an optimal brain and nerve food. Valuable oils plus vitamins A and E even make the avocado a beauty product: whether as guacamole or as a face mask, the pale green flesh has anti-aging effects.

Avocados are an excellent source of potassium, with 550 milligrams of potassium per 100 grams. All body cells, especially nerves and muscles, depend on this vital mineral. 

Superfood is particularly valuable as an ingredient in dishes such as salad or soup. According to researchers at Ohio State University, avocados can improve the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins from other vegetables. 

Avocado Nutritional Information (100 grams)  
Calories 130
Protein 1.5 g
Fat 12 g
Carbohydrates 3.6 g
Fiber 4 g

Shopping and Cooking Tips for Avocados

Shopping

Avocados are available at most supermarkets and produce stores yearround.

Increasingly, you’ll find avocados with a label that identifies them as "ready to eat" or ripe. Often such an avocado does indeed have the optimum degree of ripeness - but unfortunately not always. You can't tell from the outside whether the flesh of an avocado is unripe, rotten or perfectly ripe. This makes it all the more important to take a close look at the stem base: mold can form here, making an avocado inedible. But even if you don't find anything suspicious here, you might still get an unpleasant surprise when you cut the avocado: Brown and black spots in the green flesh are a sign that the avocado is already beginning to spoil.

Storage

Unripe and very firm avocados usually ripen well at home. You can accelerate the ripening process if you store the fruit together with apples and bananas. Storing the avocado in the refrigerator will stop this process. As a general rule, avocados should always be stored at room temperature. If the avocado is quite ripe, you should enjoy it as soon as possible.

Preparation

To halve and core an avocado, cut it once lengthwise all the way around to the core. Then turn the two halves slightly against each other until they come apart. If the avocado is still a little firm, you can now get the core out by pressing it lightly. For ripe, soft fruit, it is better to remove the seeds with a teaspoon. The flesh of the avocado can also be removed from the skin with a spoon. Or you can scratch the skin with a knife and carefully peel it off.

Pesticides may be present on the skin, which can get inside when it is cut. Therefore always wash and dry an avocado before cutting it.

If you’re not planning on eating the avocado immediately after you gut it, be sure to sprinkle the flesh with lemon or lime juice! The acidity stop the oxidation that turns avocados brown, instead ensuring it remains beautifully green.

Preparation Tips for Avocados

There are many ways to be creative with avocado. The first dish that comes to mind when you think of avocado is the classic guacamole: a delicious Mexican dip that goes perfectly with tacos, grilled food, shrimp and much more. As in guacamole, a ripe avocado can also be easily and quickly pureed for other purposes - the flesh tastes great in soups, sauces or even creams.

If you crush ripe avocado with a fork and season it with a little lemon, salt and pepper, you will also have a delicious and healthy spread in no time at all. Cubes or slices of avocado can be incorporated into a salad and go perfectly with shrimp, tomatoes and salmon, both visually and culinary.

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