Avocado – Health Benefits, Nutrition Facts & How to Select, Store & Prepare
Originally hailing from the South Central Mexico region nearly 10,000 years ago, avocados are one of the most popular fruits in modern diets today.
Yes, you read that right! Avocados are in fact a fruit, not a vegetable. Technically, they’re a berry because they contain a seed and can be eaten as a food. However, their taste is not nearly as sweet as most berries are.
The avocado has a mild, buttery flavor that lends itself to a huge range of dishes and cuisines. But, there’s another reason why this fruit has garnered so much popularity — avocados are full of amazing health benefits!
Avocados can reduce depression, support fetal health, improve digestion, and naturally detoxify the intestines. And that’s not all this superfood does. Keep reading to find out even more ways adding avocado to your diet can benefit your health.
The Top Health Benefits of Avocado
Avocados can prevent heart disease
Studies show that people who eat two servings of avocado a week are 16% less likely to develop cardiovascular disease and 21% less likely to have a heart attack. This is especially true when this fatty fruit is used in place of butter, cheese, or processed meats that clog the arteries.
Avocados improve eye health
Being great sources of both lutein and zeaxanthin, avocados are key to good eye health. These two carotenoids and antioxidants help prevent macular degeneration and cataracts, and they protect eye tissue from sunlight damage.
Your eye health and vision drastically deteriorate without them! Adding more avocados to your diet is an easy way to make sure your eyes are being taken care of.
Avocados may help prevent cancer
While the research on avocados and their effect on cancer is not complete, avocados do contain multiple compounds known for their cancer fighting benefits.
Avocados have very high levels of carotenoids, especially in the darker green flesh closest to the peel — carotenoids are known to slow cancer progression. Besides that, avocados also contain folate, which can block cancer in its early stages.
Buying Avocados: What to Look For
Buying the perfect avocado can be tricky. It’s easy to bring your produce back home only to realize your avocados are either too mushy and past their prime, or too hard to eat. However, there are a few things you can look out for at the store to make sure you get the best quality for your money.
If you’re planning on using the avocados the same day or within a day of purchasing them, buy avocados that yield to firm, gentle pressure. When an avocado is slightly soft with dark brown or black skin, it’s ripe and ready to eat.
If you’re going to be using your avocados in 3-4 days or more after buying them, you want to find greenish, rock hard avocados. Once you bring them home, they’ll ripen overtime.
To store your avocados, leave them out on the counter to ripen at room temperature. If an avocado is already ripe, or is nearly ripe, keep them in the refrigerator to prevent them from spoiling before being used.
Storing half of an avocado is a bit more difficult though. To prevent a cut avocado from going bad immediately, there are a few tricks you can try.
> Take out the pit and cover the avocado in lemon juice. Wrap it in plastic wrap or put it in an airtight container, then place this in the fridge.
> Fill an airtight container with water. Place the cut avocado into the water, flesh side down, and store in the fridge.
Cooking With Avocado
Yet, avocados can do so much more than that. Most people just don’t realize how versatile they can be!
If you’re looking for something savory, break out of your comfort zone and try baked and loaded avocados, avocado hummus, avocado mac and cheese, avocado grilled cheese, or even avocado pesto.
If you’d rather try something sweet, try avocado ice cream, avocado cheesecake, avocado pancakes, or chocolate avocado bread! Yes, avocados go great with chocolate.
No matter what you choose to make, try to incorporate avocado into at least two meals a week. But if you aren’t confident with your cooking abilities and want to try something simple, why not go for an easy breakfast quesadilla?
For a delicious breakfast quesadilla, take a tortilla and fill it with scrambled eggs, shredded cheddar cheese, hot sauce, sliced avocado, and fresh spinach. Fold the tortilla in half and cook in a pan until golden on both sides, or until the cheese melts.
This bright, healthy meal is the perfect way to kickstart your mornings!