Avocados, Yes or No?

Avocados, Yes or No?

Everything you need to know

Avocados are popular and loved by many. In fact, consumption in the U.S. has risen more than fourfold in the last 20 years.

Is that a good thing?

Are avocados a healthy food? Where do they come from? Are they sustainable? What are the best varieties? What’s the best way to store, peel, and eat them? And how can you tell when they’re ripe?

Find out everything you need to know about avocados in this article from the Food Revolution Network

Avocados are popular and loved by many. In fact,
consumption in the U.S. has risen more than fourfold in the last 20 years. But
how much do you know about the creamy green fruit (yes, it’s a fruit!)? Are
there avocado health benefits you should know about? Where do they come from?
And are they sustainable? Keep reading to find out!


You can find avocados almost everywhere — from grocery
stores and farmers markets to chocolate pudding recipes.

Once considered a delicacy, this green tree fruit is now a
common addition to tables and menus all over the world.

People’s love affair with avocados has gained traction in
recent years. The growth in sales outpaces that of any other fruit. And in
2015, The Washington Post dubbed avocados “America’s new favorite fruit.”

What Is an Avocado?

The avocado is an evergreen, tropical tree with
green, pear-shaped, nutrient-dense fruit
. The term avocado refers to both
the tree and the fruit.

Avocados come in hundreds of different varieties. And the
tree is a member of the flowering plant family, Lauraceae.

The fruit itself is technically a berry containing
one large seed
. But keep in mind that the scientific definition of a berry
(a fruit derived from the ovary of a single flower) varies from common usage.
Botanists will tell you that eggplant is a berry and a strawberry is not. So I
wouldn’t jump at a berry cobbler made by a botanist!

While they aren’t sweet, avocados are a satisfying
and
 versatile food with a creamy, buttery texture.
And they have a rich flavor from the high-fat content.

Avocado Health Benefits: The Skinny on This Healthy Fat
Fruit

Avocados offer an abundance of fiber, potassium (more than a
banana!), and vitamins B6 and C. They’re also rich in folate, which can boost your mood!

But any way you slice it, the nutrient avocados
offer the most of is fat
. In fact, one cup of avocado provides 21 grams of
fat. The type of fat found in avocado, therefore, matters a great deal. And
it’s mostly a mixture of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

Polyunsaturated fats are essential. This means
they’re necessary for your body to function, but it can’t make them itself.
Your body uses these fats to build cell membranes and the covering of nerves.
And they’re also needed for blood clotting and muscle movement.

Monounsaturated fats are similar to the fats
found in olive oil. Some studies have linked them to reduced inflammation, lower risk
of heart disease, and anti-cancer 
effects.

While many people debate the health effects of specific
types of fat, I think that’s a bit like debating whether a trumpet is a good
instrument. Taken by itself, it’s arguable. But when it’s in a talented band,
playing excellent music, the equation can change considerably.

To me, avocados are a bit like one of the finest
orchestras ever assembled
. They’re not only delicious — but they also
contain a fabulous and nutritious symphony of components that combine to create
a nourishing, satisfying (and, in my personal opinion, delicious!) result.

And unlike, for example, avocado oil, a cup of
avocado provides 10 grams of 
fiber.

Plus Avocados Have Few Pesticides

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), avocados
are one of the Clean 15. (The list of produce least likely to contain
pesticide residue.)

Fewer than one percent of conventional avocados tested
positive for pesticides.

So if you can’t afford organically grown avocados, you can
choose conventionally grown varieties without any major pesticide exposure.

15 Ways Avocados Can Support Your Health

Avocado health benefits are extensive and include:


  1. Avocado eaters tend to be healthier. A
    2013 study published in the Nutrition Journal found
    that avocado consumers tend to have higher nutrient intake and lower rates
    of metabolic syndrome. They also have lower weight, lower BMI, less belly
    fat, and higher levels of HDL (high-density lipoprotein, or
    “good”cholesterol).


  2. Avocados can help you better absorb
    antioxidants. 
    Some nutrients are fat-soluble. That means you
    should consume them with fats so your body can properly absorb
    them. A 2005 study published in The
    Journal of Nutrition
     found that eating carotenoids (antioxidantsincluding
    lycopene and beta-carotene) with avocado or avocado oil increased their
    absorption.


  3. Avocados may help prevent and treat cancer. A
    2015 study published in Cancer
    Research
    found that avocatin B, a compound derived from avocado, can
    help kill leukemia cells. A 2015 research review published in the Journal of Agricultural
    and Food Chemistry
     found that phytochemicals (plant compounds) in
    avocados make them potentially beneficial for preventing cancer.


  4. Avocados can reduce your risk of heart disease. A
    2015 study published in the Journal of the American
    Heart Association
     found that eating one avocado per day as part
    of a moderatefat,
    cholesterollowering
    diet reduced LDL (low-density lipoprotein, or “bad”cholesterol).


  5. Avocados may aid in weight loss. A 2013
    study published in the Nutrition Journal found
    that people eating avocado with a meal felt 23% more satisfied. And they
    had a 28% lower desire to eat in the next five hours versus people who
    didn’t eat an avocado.


  6. Avocados may boost brain health and memory. The
    fruit is rich in oleic acid (or OEA), an omega-9 fatty acid that’s linked
    to improved cognition. A 2009 study published in the Proceedings of the
    National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
     found
    that these types of acids can enhance memory.


  7. Avocados may help lower the risk of depression.
    Eating monounsaturated fats have been shown to
    reduce depression. (And balancing fat intake may help control depression.) And the high amount of
    folate has been shown to help maintain your brain’s feel-good
    chemicals, dopamine and serotonin.


  8. Avocados can help prevent neurodegenerative
    diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. 
    A 2016 study published in Advances
    in Neurobiology
     found that the “diverse array of bioactive
    nutrients” present in avocados play a key role in the prevention and cure
    of these types of diseases.


  9. Avocados can keep your eyes healthy as you
    age. 
    The fruit is rich in the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin,
    which can help protect and maintain healthy cells in your eyes. According
    to a 2017 study published in the journal Nutrients,
    avocado can help boost macular pigment with age.


  10. Avocados can help prevent gum disease. A
    2006 study published in the Journal of
    Periodontology
     found that key ingredients in avocados may enhance
    protective effects against periodontal disease.


  11. Avocados can help ease osteoarthritis. A
    2010 review published in the journal The Physician
    and Sportsmedicine
     found that key ingredients in avocados can
    help patients with arthritis of the hip or knee.


  12. Avocados can combat metabolic syndrome. Metabolic
    syndrome is an assortment of linked issues including high blood sugar,
    high serum cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high body mass index,
    which lead to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular
    disease. A 2017 study published in the journal Phytotherapy
    Research
     found that the “lipidlowering,
    antihypertensive, antidiabetic, antiobesity,
    antithrombotic, antiatherosclerotic, and cardioprotective effects of
    avocado” can help protect
    against this syndrome.


  13. Avocados can help prevent food poisoning. A
    2013 study published in the journal BioMed Research
    International
     found that the antibacterial activity of avocados
    can help protect against e. Coli and other foodborne pathogens.


  14. Avocados can help reduce liver damage. A
    2000 study presented by the American Chemical Society found
    that avocados contain chemicals that can protect against liver toxins. And
    avocados may be able to lessen the
    liver damage caused by the hepatitis C virus.


  15. Avocados can be great for pregnant women. A
    2016 study published in the journal Nutrientsconcluded
    that avocados are high in folate and potassium (typically under-consumed
    in maternal diets) as well as fiber, monounsaturated fats, and
    lipid-soluble antioxidants — all of which are tied to improvements in
    maternal health, birth outcomes, and quality of breast milk.

Any Down Sides to Avocados?

Avocados are high in fat and calories. So if
excess weight is a concern, you may want to create some limits on how many you
eat. A small amount can go a long way.

And if you’re prone to migraines or are allergic to
latex, avocados might not be the fruit for you.

For those who suffer from migraines, certain
foods, circumstances, or environmental factors can trigger episodes.

Avocados sometimes appear on lists of such foods due to the high levels of tyramine
(a substance formed when proteins break down) they contain when overripe.

In addition, avocado contains some of the same allergens found in latex. So
if you have a latex allergy, you may want to watch out to see if avocados
trigger any of the same symptoms.

8 Types of Avocados Worth Knowing About

Hundreds of varieties of avocados exist, which vary widely
in color and size. Some are green, others are black, and they range from as
small as only a few ounces to as large as five pounds.

The most common types of avocados include:

Hass Avocados

Hass — the small, dark green, bumpy variety you’re
probably used to
 — is eaten more than any other. In fact, Hass
avocados made up 97% of avocado sales in the U.S. in 2018. And
they accounted for about 80% of all avocados eaten worldwide.

Hass has become so popular because it’s great for exporting and
importing. Believe it or not, it also ripens more slowly than
other kinds (believe it or not). A Hass avocado also changes color when
ripe and has a relatively thick skin.

They’re quite rich and can have up to 20% oil content. Their
season is year-round
, which works out well because that’s exactly the same
as my season for guacamole!

Choquette Avocados

Native to South Florida, these large,
bright-green 
avocados are lighter in flavor and less oily than
Hass
.

They have firmer flesh and hold up
well in salads
 — though most people tend to prefer the buttery flavor
of Hass.

Many Floridians have shady Choquette trees growing in their
backyards. And they’re in season in Florida from June through March.

Bacon Avocados

Not to worry — no pigs are harmed in the making of
these tasty avos
!

Bacon avocados are oval shaped and
have smooth green skin. They have pale yellow flesh and a creamy
texture. They tend to be sweeter and more watery than Hass. Bacon
avocados are in seasonfrom November to March.

Fuerte Avocados

Considered extremely flavorful, these
pear-shaped, green avocados are grown in California and have a smooth, medium
skin.

The Fuerte is easy to peel, and many
consider it the best tasting
, so grab some if you can! Fuerte avocados
are in season from November to June.

Tonnage Avocados

This green, pear-shaped variety originated
in Guatemala. It has a lower oil content than Hass or Choquette and
sweeter taste.

It’s in
season
 from August through late September.

Daily 11 Avocados

Weighing up to five pounds, the Daily 11 avocado is related to
the Hass
. It may be the largest variety grown in California.

Pear-shaped or baggy with a thick skin, this avocado
also has an oily texture. It’s in season from August through October.

Macarthur Avocados

Originally cultivated in California, the Macarthur is a large
variety with a hard green shell and creamy inner fruit
.

Buttery and nutty when ripe, it’s in
season
 from August to November.

Shepard Avocados

Native to
Australia, these “greenskin” (their skin stays green as they ripen)
avocados are the second most common variety down under.

They’re longer than Hass, have a nutty flavor,
and are available from February to April in Australia.

Where Do Your Avocados Come from?

With the increasing demand for avocados, it’s important
to consider the source 
— as well as other issues surrounding the
massive growth of avocado consumption.

The majority of avocados consumed by Americans come from
Mexico.

In 2017, the country exported more than 1.7 billion pounds of Hass avocados
to the U.S. Given the exponential rise of the industry, particularly in Mexico, many
are concerned about its role in
deforestation and increased greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition, according to The Smithsonian, the popularity
of Hass avocados is creating a monoculture
, where native varieties of
avocado are being cut down and replaced with Hass trees.

So what can you do?

To vote with your dollars against a future of monocultures
of Hass avocados, consider giving another avocado variety a try! Also, buying
U.S. grown avocados helps minimize transportation distance and greenhouse gas
emissions.

If you’re in Florida, California, Hawaii, or a tropical
country, you’re likely to find some other options at your local farmer’s market
or sustainable grocer.

When Is an Avocado Ripe?

s many an avo-lover is aware, avocados can ripen quickly —
often too quickly!

Most of us know the pain of forgetting about an avocado and
then realizing it’s become too mushy to eat.

So how do you know when your avocado is ripe? It does
depend on the variety. 
Hass avocados grow darker as they ripen, but
so-called greenskins keep their color.

To determine ripeness, gently squeeze your avocado with all
fingers. If a slight amount of pressure causes it to “give,” it’s ready!

Don’t press avocados with your thumb, though. It can bruise
the fruit. (That technique is why many supermarket avocados end up ruined.) The
human thumb is the natural enemy of the avocado!

You can also peel back the small stem or cap at the top of
the avocado. If it comes away easily and if you find green underneath, you’ve
got a good avocado that’s ripe and ready to eat.

And with a thicker-skinned or hard-shelled variety, you can
pull out the little cap and stick a toothpick in. If it’s soft, the avo is
ready to eat!

The Best Way to Peel an Avocado

Peeling this fruit can be a challenge sometimes.

The highest concentrations of antioxidants are closest to
the skin
. So, you want to try to get as much of the flesh as you can.

The California Avocado Commission recommends the “nick and
peel” method. Here’s how it works (you can check out a visual how-to on the CAC website):

  1. Wash your avocado.

  2. Cut it lengthwise, around the seed.

  3. Rotate your fruit and cut it into one-quarter
    segments.

  4. Separate the pieces and remove the seed.

  5. Starting from the top of each piece, nick and peel
    the flesh off. Then discard the skin.

How to Store Avocados

For storage, keep avocados at room temperature until
they’re ripe
.

If your avocado is ripe, but you’re not quite ready to eat
it, put it in the fridge. They’ll usually keep that way for three to five more
days.

To speed up the ripening process, put your avocado in a
brown paper bag and add an apple.

If you have half an avocado or it’s already cut up,
squeezing a little lemon juice on it will help keep it from browning.

5 Different Ways to Eat an Avocado — Besides Guacamole!

If you’re looking to add more avocado to your diet, here are
a few creative recipe ideas to try!

Basil
Avocado Pesto

This flavorful recipe uses avocado in a dip along with basil
and walnuts to create a nutrient-dense, perfect party food!

Baked Avocado Fries

You may have seen avocado fries on the menu at select
eateries, but this oil-free recipe from Simple Vegan Blog is a baked, healthier
version of the snack!

Vegan Avocado Toast

Avocado and toast are a match made in heaven. This recipe
from Minimalist Baker is super simple and uses whole-grain bread, avocado,
vegan parmesan, and red pepper flakes.

Avocado
Quinoa Salad

Combine avocado and quinoa, and it’s the ultimate superfood
salad! Try this easy, delicious recipe from Veggies Save the Day.

Avocado Chocolate Mousse

Who knew avocado made such a wonderful addition to desserts?
This mousse recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie is rich and full of
antioxidants.

Remember to sign up for your free Healthy Living / Personal Development book a month

Also check out our book site for help with Healthy Living Solutions.


Also check out our site where we have great recipes.

.

Rod Stone
Author,
Publisher and Supplier of Healthy Living information and products to improve
your life.

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