Healthy Bites: Avocado… It’s more than just guacamole

Jammie Schrab, Mount Mary student dietition, health columnist

By JAMMIE SCHRAB

Avocados are commonly seen as a creamy accompaniment to freshly fried tortilla chips. Their buttery soft texture and mild creamy flavor lends itself nicely to the crispness of the more earthy flavored corn tortilla chip.

Yet, there is more to this lovable fruit than playing second fiddle to an appetizer favorite. Not only is it naturally pest-resistant, but it also contains a beneficial amount of fat and fiber.

Nutrition

Packed with health benefits such as dietary fiber and monounsaturated fat, avocados have gained popularity in recent years and worked toward defeating the unhealthy claims.

With 4.5 grams of fat per 1ounce serving, it’s not surprising many in the U.S. have kept their distance. When compared to the fat content of other side dishes, avocados have less fat than cheddar cheese (9 grams/ounce) and mayonnaise (10 grams/ounce). Avocados are comparable to sour cream (5 grams/ounce); however, sour cream contains mostly saturated fat.

Saturated fat is found in both animal products such as sour cream and shelf stable goods such as Twinkies  and potato chips. According to the American Heart Association, saturated fats are the largest dietary cause of high cholesterol.

Avocados are cholesterol-free and sodium-free. The fruit is mostly comprised of monounsaturated fats, which are heart healthy fats, according to the American Heart Association.

Saving and Serving

Ninety percent of the U.S. avocado crop is grown in southern California, according to the Californian Avocado Commission. An avocado’s thick, leathery outer skin is resistant to many pests, similar to the protective skin of bananas. This protective skin reduces the amount of pesticides growers need to produce a good crop.

Challenges exist when cutting an avocado for serving because a smooth stone-like pit lies inside, which makes it tricky to access.

Ripe avocados need only minimal pressure from a knife to cut through its leathery skin to the pit. Turn the fruit and keep the knife in place. This technique creates a perfect circle all the way around the avocado. Just twist to separate the two halves. Still worried? Hold the fruit with a thick cloth for safety.

Avocados are finicky fruits. They can go from under-ripe and hard to over-ripe and soft. Avocados oxidize rapidly, changing from its green and gold colored inside to an unappetizing brown color. Before putting the unused portion in the fridge, cover the leftovers of the avocado with lemon juice and plastic wrap to stave off oxidation, which keeps it green and fresh longer.

Give this lovable fruit a chance to be center stage on the dinner table. The health benefits warrant cracking its leathery outside for a creamy nutrient boost.

Avocado health facts:

  • Vitamin K aids in blood clotting.
  • Vitamin E aids in protecting cells.
  • Folate prevents gestational spinal cord deformities.
  • Fiber aids in feeling full longer and aids in regularity.
  • Vitamin B6 aids in creating antibodies to fight diseases.
  • Potassium aids in metabolism.

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