Why We Love Avocados
Rich in flavor and consistency, avocados are great to consume if you’re craving something creamy and thick. High in potassium, they help to keep blood pressure low. They also contain important heart healthy monounsaturated fats, which help to lower blood pressure and triglyceride levels. Research has shown, these important fats additionally provide beneficial cognitive changes and improvements for brain health. Avocadoes aid in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A,D,E and K and are a good source of vitamin K, which has been indicated to promote bone health in the elderly. Avocados are a nice source of protein, especially for anyone on a plant-based diet. Surprisingly, avocadoes are also an excellent source of soluble fiber – half a medium size avocado contains 6 grams, which is more than in a bowl of oatmeal.
How to Shop for Avocados
Avocados can be found at the supermarket all year long. Some varieties may have more phytonutrients than others. The Hass Avocado, sold in most supermarkets, can have two to four times more antioxidant values than most other varieties.
Look for pear-shaped, round, or egg-shaped fruit that is green or purplish-black in color. Choose those that are soft at the top and are heavy when picking up. Avoid those with dark spots or broken skin. If you have the opportunity to open at the point of purchase, take a look at the pit – it should be anchored firmly in the flesh.
How to Store Avocados
If your avocados are already ripe, you can store them in the refrigerator for up to five days. Avocados release ethylene gas, and are better if stored away from ripe bananas, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower and other produce items listed here. If you have purchased unripe avocados, put them in a closed paper bag and store at room temperature until the stem end begins to soften – this ripening process will take two to three days. To speed up the process, add a banana to the paper bag.
Avocados that have been cut do not store well and will start to oxidize and turn brown rapidly. There are two ways to keep it fresh if you have already cut your avocado. If you are only using half the avocado, keep the stone in the half you are storing (the stone keeps it from browning). Next, drizzle lemon or lime juice on its flesh, and place in a tightly wrapped plastic bag before storing in your refrigerator. A surprising way to prevent browning is to store your half-cut avocado pit side down on a bed of sliced onions. The onions’ volatile oils and antioxidant activity helps to prevent the avocados flesh from browning.
Avocados also freeze well and can be stored to use later in smoothies. Peel the skin away and either chop or puree the avocados green flesh. Add lemon juice to prevent browning and place in a covered airtight container to use within six months.
How to Prepare Avocados
Avocados can be enjoyed in all sorts of ways – blended in smoothies or dips, raw in salads, as a snack, or as is. Please note that avocados are one of the few produce items that cannot be used in your juicer. To test ripeness before cutting into your avocado, gently press the stem end or squeeze the avocado to see there is a slight give.
Blend: Fresh or frozen avocado is a wonderful addition for a delicious thick and creamy smoothie. You can also blend avocados to make a creamy sauce or dressing like this No-Mayo Raw Avocado Slaw.
Blended Dessert: Who knew that blended avocado can even make for a tasty dessert like this creamy, raw chocolate mousse!
Raw: Fresh, raw avocados are an excellent snack alone or with a drizzle of lemon or lime juice with salt and pepper to taste. Add fresh avocado to any green salad, vegetable slaw, or even whole grain toast for breakfast. Learn more for easy tips to cut your avocado.
Grilled/Baked: You might be surprised, but baked or grilled avocados are a wonderful way to enjoy this fruit. Once split and cut, remove the pit and replace with tomatoes, garlic, and parsley. Grill, bake or broil and top with a drizzle of lemon juice, salt and pepper before serving.
Skin Care: The healthy fats and variety of nutrients in avocados make these stone fruits an amazing addition to a soothing face mask for beautiful skin!
Cooked, Raw, or Frozen? How to Get the Most out of Avocadoes
Avocados in their raw fresh form will preserve the most nutrients and healthy fats. If you plan to cook or grill an avocado, it is best to use the quickest cooking time to reduce nutrient loss. No matter what format you choose, avocadoes provide nutritious options to add to your next morning smoothie, afternoon snack, hearty salad, or late night treat.