Avocadoes - One of the Hottest Nutrition Trends
TEXARKANA, Ark. –
Avocadoes are one of the hottest nutrition trends right now. Maybe it is because we love guacamole, or that thick slice on a hamburger. Maybe we realize they are a healthy fat, are relatively inexpensive, or because they are just so creamy and good. Whatever the reason, they are showing up in all types of dishes and on restaurant menus.
The avocado originates from South Central Mexico, and maintains the title of top producer of the world’s avocados. There are many varieties including West Indian, Mexican, Guatamalan, and the most popular Haas. While many consider it a vegetable, botanically, the avocado fruit is a large berry with a single seed.
Part of the appeal of avocados is their nutrient density, with nearly 20 vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. In fact, one third of a medium heart healthy avocado contains only 80 calories. Heart-healthy avocados are naturally sodium and sugar free as well as low in saturated fat. The Dietary Guidelines emphasize good fats, like the type found in avocados, as part of healthy eating patterns. The fat in avocados is mostly unsaturated. Replacing saturated or trans fats with unsaturated fats, is associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease according to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines.
Their high fat content helps the body absorb fat-soluble nutrients like vitamin A, known for its important role in eyesight. In addition, the phytonutrients lutein and zeaxanthin, found in avocados are linked to reduced risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.
When purchasing avocados, look for hard, unripened fruit with light green skin, unless you plan to serve them immediately. Store them at room temperature. Haas avocados usually turn from light green to dark green to black during ripening. Some varieties due not change color so that may not be a good indicator of ripeness depending upon variety. Instead, gently squeeze the avocado in the palm of your hand. If it is ripe and ready to eat, it will be firm, yet yield to gentle pressure.
Avocados should be used immediately once ripened. Or stored in the refrigerator for no more than 3 days. Cut avocados must be stored in the refrigerator, but sprinkle with lemon or lime juice and tightly wrap in plastic wrap or in an airtight container to avoid oxidation.
The easiest way to prepare an avocado is to cut down the center lengthwise around the seed and then hold the avocado in the palm of your hand while using the other hand to twist the halves apart. To remove the seed, slip a spoon between the seed and fruit and gently work the seed out of the fruit. Use a dessert spoon to scoop the whole avocado flesh out from the shell. Then slice, dish or mash according to recipe you are preparing.
The avocado provides many ways to eat it, including eating it on its own. They are a self-contained bowl so simply sprinkle the flesh with some lemon or lime juice, add coarse salt if desired, then dive in with a spoon and enjoy that creamy goodness. Other ways to enjoy them are in spreads, dips, cubed in a salad or on a sandwich, blended into soups and smoothies, swapped for mayonnaise in chicken or egg salad, and more. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.
For more information, contact the Miller County Extension Office, 870-779-3609 or visit us in room 215 at the Miller County Courthouse. We're online at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Facebook at UAEXMillerCountyFCS/CarlaHaleyHadley, on Twitter @MillerCountyFCS or on the web at uaex.edu/Miller.
Try this Tossed Spinach Salad with avocados, blue cheese, and dried cranberries, next time you want a treat. To make it a meal, add grilled chicken. You will not be disappointed!
Tossed Spinach Salad
1 bunch spinach, rinsed and torn into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted optional
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 avocado - peeled, pitted and diced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons red raspberry jam (with seeds)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large bowl, toss together the spinach, nuts, cranberries, blue cheese, tomatoes, avocado, and red onion. In a small bowl, whisk together jam, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour over the salad, and toss to coat.
By Carla Haley-Hadley
County Extension Agent - FCS
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Carla Haley-Hadley
County Extension Agent - FCS
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
400 Laurel Street, Suite 215 Texarkana AR 71854
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