Avocado, the green delight

By | January 23, 2014

Native to Central and South Americas, avocados surprisingly have only been available in all 50 US States since 2007.  That might explain why so many people inquire “What is that?” when they see an avocado in the skin sitting on my desk or in my produce bowl.

When fully ripe the avocado has a very light subtle taste which in my opinion is much like the taste of a raw, fresh kernel of corn.  The avocado’s smooth, rich & creamy texture lends to enhanced palatability of many foods.  An avocado can be eaten by itself or with some salt, pepper and/or a touch of olive oil.  Avocados are a magnificent addition to salads, sandwiches and burgers and can be added as slices, cubes or spread.  Guacamole is pretty much salsa with mashed avocado.  Avocados can be used as an emulsifier when making homemade ice cream or as a partial butter substitute in baking.  Avocados are a fantastic first food for baby!

Avocados provide your cells with a wealth of nutrients found particularly concentrated in the outer green flesh.  The unique mix of antioxidants and fats in avocado makes it an anti-inflammatory superstar which can help prevent osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.  Avocados contain a plethora of carotenoids – antioxidants that come from plant pigments, which gives fruits and vegetables their color and protects our heart, skin, eyes, lungs & immune system as well as prevents cancer.  But unlike most produce avocados also contain a good amount of fat which needs to be present in the intestines in order for the carotenoids to be absorbed through the intestinal cells.  Researchers have found that more fat soluble nutrients are absorbed from other vegetables when they are eaten with avocados.  In addition to providing our cells with cancer preventive antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, avocados have shown to do the exact opposite in cancer cells.  By promoting inflammation and oxidation in cancer cells avocados can produce enough stress that the cancer cells perform apoptosis (cell suicide)!  Avocados are also a good source of fiber, potassium, vitamin K, vitamin C, folate and vitamins B5 & B6.

When purchasing avocados I always select the fruit that is firm which tells me that it is not yet ripe.  I then ripen avocados at home by leaving them out at room temperature for a few days or putting them in a brown paper bag if I need to accelerate the process.  Avocados are ready to eat when they are soft and give slightly to the touch.  Once ripe avocados will need to be consumed fairly quickly.  Ripe avocados can be kept in the refrigerator for a few days to extend their life.