The avocado is a delicious little mystery. It has a pit, so it’s technically a fruit, and yet it’s almost always used as a savory element in recipes. In fact, I have yet to open up one of my cookbooks and find the avocado listed as the star ingredient in any of the desserts. All that said, I still can’t get enough of them these days.
It’s unfortunate that so many people shy away from avocados because of their fat content. As Sally Fallon points out in Nourishing Traditions, most of the fat in an avocado is of the monounsaturated oleic acid variety—in other words, the good kind. And according to Fallon, eating avocados straight up gives you the “full complement of lipase and vitamin E.” Even better, avocados bring all of the following nutrients to the table:
- C vitamins
Not bad, eh? But there’s even more to love about the avocado, according to Benjamin P. Sandler, MD. In a chapter of his 1958 book How to Prevent Heart Attacks (available at the Selene River Press Historical Archives) Sandler outlines the best diet for those with heart disease. He cites the avocado as one of the carbohydrate foods that can be eaten in unlimited quantity because it has little to no starch.
Like almost everyone else on the planet, guacamole is one of my favorite ways to eat avocados. I like mine on the chunky side, with tomato, plenty of lime juice, and a little kick. But I have lots of other ways to sneak this nutritional powerhouse into family meals. I like to smash it up on a slice of sprouted grain toast and top it with a fried egg—the combination of avocado and yolk is a mouth-watering start to any day. And I like topping off a steamy bowl of chili with slices of avocado, which adds a wonderful, unexpected layer of creaminess. The avocado is also a great addition to almost any smoothie. Then there’s the recipe for green goddess dressing that our clinical nutritionist shared with me , which is beyond yummy. You can easily find a version of it online by searching for “green goddess dressing with avocado.” It’s worth checking out—trust me.
It doesn’t stop there, though. The avocado can be just as nourishing to the outside of your body, both as a deep hair conditioner and as a moisturizing facial mask. Avocado oil can also be combined with other essential oils in all sorts of aromatherapy applications.
If you’ve never used avocados before and find them a little intimidating, here are some tips:
- Haas avocados are the most common at the grocery store. They’re also the best for flavor and for how well they ripen.
- Avocadoes are on the EPA’s “Clean Fifteen” list of produce that isn’t absolutely necessary to buy organic. While buying organic produce is preferred, don’t let it stop you.
- Store avocadoes at room temperature until soft.
- To speed up the ripening process, put avocadoes in a paper bag with a banana and keep at room temperature.
- Avocadoes are ripe when you press on them and they have a little give.
- Once ripe, avocadoes can be stored in the refrigerator for about a week.
- Here’s a video from Jamie Oliver on how to prepare an avocado.
- Keep sliced avocadoes from turning brown by squeezing some lime or lemon juice on them.
The avocado may look unassuming, but it’s a true multitasking food wrapped up in a dark green, bumpy package. What’s is your favorite way to use it?
Photo from iStock/ValentynVolkov