Avocados are often avoided by many health-conscious people because of their high fat content. It’s true, 1 cup of avocado contains 240 calories, 184 of which are fat, or 34% of the fat you should ingest daily. The problem with standard nutritional data, though, is that they tend to lump all fats into a single category, with the exception of saturated fats (16% in a serving of avocado). Monosaturated and polysaturated fats are in fact healthy for you in moderate quantities, actually reducing menacing LDL cholesterol.
The avocado originated in the state of Pueblo, Mexico, dating back as early as 10,000 BC. A close relative of the Hass variety we currently consume called Criollo can be dated back to 900 AD. The Aztecs referred to the avocado as “the fertility fruit” referring to both its shape and dense nutritional content. Most of the avocados eaten in the United States now come from California and Florida, and Mexico still exports a large portion to the US.
Avocado Nutritional Facts
As you’ve already noticed, avocados have plenty of fat. They should be eaten in moderation, as a result. If eaten in moderation, though, enjoy all the wonderful benefits that it has to offer.
Most of the fats contained in avocado are monosaturated fats – the good kind of fat. This will reduce your LDL cholesterol levels and boost HDL cholesterol levels. Multiple studies have shown this to be true. For example, after a sample of people went on a 7 day diet of high avocado intake, LDL’s and triglycerides dropped by 22% and HDLs increased by 11%. That is a markedly sharp difference in such a short period of time.
Avocados and Your Diet
Avocados are great for replacing fats that are already present in your diet. Instead of a grilled cheese sandwich, try replacing the cheese with avocado. Instead of buttering your toast, throw on a few slices of avocado. Replacing any cheese you might put in your salad with avocado will not only replace those bad fats and cholesterol, it will assist in absorbing all the other nutrients in the salad, as well. Fat replacement is definitely the healthiest way to incorporate more avocados into your diet.
Avocados are eaten raw most of the time – they’re tasty enough to eat right out of the peel. If you do cook them up – say, in a scramble – make sure they’re only cooked for a short period of time, or they’ll become bitter. Avocados are also excellent in any milk-based shake. Just put 2% milk, avocado, and a little sugar into a blender, and behold a beautiful and delicious treat. Avocados are a very flexible food, so use your imagination and start incorporating them into foods you wouldn’t otherwise think of.
Picking the Right Avocado
A ripe avocado will be slightly soft when squeezed gently, but firm overall. If an avocado is overripe, it will likely be brown and black with bruises when you crack it open. Avoid avocados with cracks or with their top stem broken off, as they oxygenate very quickly and begin to go brown and spoil soon after. If you’re buying avocados to have around the house for a while, though, picking an unripe avocado is a prudent choice. Leave it on your kitchen counter, and they’ll be ready to eat in a few days time.