We use avocados to make guacamole spiced with garlic and onions, melt them in soup, put slices of them on hamburgers, and stuff their halves with beans and corn. These may be strange uses for fruits, but that’s what avocados are, even with their buttery taste.
Avocados are incredibly nutritious and considered a superfood, so don’t let a little identity crisis keep you from enjoying them in a number of different ways. In addition to the appetizing savory options mentioned above, try using avocados in smoothies, ice cream, and specialty dips.
Avocados are dark green ovals that fit in the palm of your hand. The most popular variety is the Hass, which has a leathery, deep green skin. Other varieties include the Lamb-Hass, Reed, and Fuerte—all green, but perhaps with lighter color and smoother skin.
All varieties have soft interior fruit of a lovely pale green color.
A fruit that tastes like a vegetable may seem a cruel trick of nature, but one bite of an avocado’s buttery, nutty flavor should make everything okay. Depending on the fruit’s variety, you may also notice a slightly sweet or even grassy flavor as it melts in your mouth.
Approximately 95 percent of all US avocados are grown in California, so they’re readily available in grocery stores all year long. Europeans can enjoy this imported fruit primarily between October and May.
The most commercial avocado is the Hass, and it’s available all year long. Specialty varieties such as the Reed, Lamb-Hass, and Fuerte peak between February and May.
The green skin of the common Hass variety avocado darkens as it ripens, so that’s a good indicator. Also, the “give” of an avocado determines how you can use it. If the fruit is firm but gives a little to slight pressure, it’s perfect for dicing or slicing. If you can apply a gentle squeeze and leave a bit of a dent, that fruit is ready for mashing.
If the avocado yields greatly to your touch, it’s probably overripe, discolored, and of no use in your recipes.
Organic foods are noted for having a higher concentration of vitamins and minerals because the soil is free of leaching pesticides, insecticides, and herbicides. Pesticides, insecticides, and herbicides may cause hormonal imbalance and complications with the nervous system. These chemicals may also increase erosion, contaminate ground water, and contribute to the devastation of honey bee populations, which are important pollinators in our ecosystem.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is an environmental health advocacy and research organization in the United States. From cosmetics to produce, water to cleaning products, EWG provides insight regarding the impact of pesticides, manufacturing practices, and product ingredients on our health and environment. EWG produces a consumer guide ranking 48 fruits and vegetables with pesticide residue. The higher the rank, the lower the residue. You don’t have to worry about avocados—they appear on the EWG’s “Clean 15” list, which means you are assured of pesticide-free enjoyment.
The Environmental Working Group and Yoffie Life stress that consuming conventionally grown vegetables and fruits when the organic version is unavailable or financially impossible is far better than eating none at all.
Unripe avocados, which are hard to the touch, can be ripened on the countertop in open air or in a brown paper bag for two to six days, depending on your need. Ripe avocados can be refrigerated loose in your crisper for approximately five days.
In 2014, the California Avocado Board promoted peeling avocados, rather than slicing and scooping them, in order to preserve the nutritional benefits found in the dark green fruit close to the skin.
So wash your ripe avocado and pat dry. Place it lengthwise on a cutting board and, holding the fruit at the top, slice it in half around the pit. Rotate the fruit a half turn, and make another cut lengthwise all the way through, so you have four quarters. Pull the quarters apart and remove the pit. Next, with the tip of your knife, nick the top of an avocado quarter and peel the skin away in one piece and discard. Peel your other quarters, then slice, chop, or mash as needed.
You can also puree avocado and freeze it to use later in dips and for smoothies.
Vitamin K, specifically vitamin K2, is helpful for regulating and directing dietary calcium in and out of the bone. It is also responsible for proper blood clotting and may aid in protecting the arteries from calcification.
Far more than protecting the body from the common cold, this immune-system-building vitamin offers a host of benefits. Vitamin C is an important nutrient necessary for collagen production, and is essential for maintaining the integrity and function of skin and bone tissue. Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant, fighting free radicals and protecting the heart, kidneys, and lungs from disease. This essential nutrient, often found in large amounts in citrus fruits and raw vegetables, may play a role in reducing systolic blood pressure, reducing heart disease risk.
B9 (Folate or Folic Acid)
An important nutrient necessary for normal cell division during pregnancy and infancy, folic acid (vitamin B9) plays a powerful role in the developing infant. For adults, vitamin B9 is also essential for proper metabolism, aiding in energy and the production of red blood cells.
Vitamin B12 is also known as the energy vitamin, important for metabolizing all macronutrients (fats, protein, and carbohydrates) and transforming them into useable energy. Vitamin B12 also plays an integral role in cognitive function and the nervous system.
B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
Helpful for metabolizing fatty acids and protein, two of the most satiating and long-lasting nutrients in the body, vitamin B5 is also responsible for maintaining the proper functioning of insulin receptors and energy maintenance.
Avocados provide a powerful boost of energy, encourage cell restoration, and keep blood sugar in check. Ample amounts of beta carotene and carotenoids can help prevent cancer, and “good” fat keeps inflammation in check and your digestive system running smoothly.
- Avocados originated in South and Central America, and have been cultivated since 8,000 B.C.
- There are many ways to enjoy avocado as a fruit. In Brazil, people add avocados to ice cream. In the Philippines, it’s popular to make a dessert drink from milk, sugar, and avocados.
- A nickname for an avocado is “Alligator Pear” because of its exterior and shape.