In lieu of my attempt to eat wholesome, minimally processed foods, I thought it might be interesting to look up some of those “wonder foods” and really find out why so many people are touting their health benefits. The one I see pop up the most is the avocado.
Besides being a beautiful green color when split open (mind you, if overripe you get an ugly brown-bleh!), this little miracle fruit finds itself mixed, diced and folded into a slew of my whole food recipes. And yes, I did type fruit because, much to my chagrin, I discovered the avocado is a member of the fruit family. In case you needed some useless fun facts to throw out at your next soiree, avocados are native to Central and South America and did not reach the United States until the early twentieth century. These tasty treats are best grown in tropical and subtropical climates, which explains why you see the majority distributed from Mexico and Central America.
Avocados come in three major categories, the West Indian, Guatemalan and Mexican varieties. Where they are grown determines the type of climate best needed for optimal development. The West Indian varieties do better in tropical climates; Guatemalan fare better in higher altitudes and Mexican avocados can withstand dry, arid conditions. Therefore, you may want to think twice before trying to plant and grow avocados in this year’s backyard garden.
Aside from finding out where they come from, avocados used to receive a bad reputation for being high-fat, unhealthy foods. So if you ever needed an excuse to have an extra dip into the guacamole bowl at your favorite Mexican eatery, then remind yourself of this: avocados are an excellent source of monounsaturated fatty acids, potassium, vitamins A, B, E and K. Besides also containing minerals like magnesium, iron and copper, avocados are also an excellent source of fiber. In fact, according to some of my nutrition books I keep on the shelf, avocados are known to have as much potassium as 2 or 3 bananas! Maybe this is why I see so many smoothie recipes require me to throw in part of one in my morning shake.
The downside is of course the avocado’s high calorie and fat content. But if you look at all the health benefits that go with this magical fruit, it might behoove you to swap out a serving of tree nuts or legumes and eat some avocado instead. The monounsaturated fat found in avocados (which explains the high fat content) are good for the body, much like olive oil, because it can help lower cholesterol thanks to the oleic and linoleic acids. This means avocados may help lower those bad LDL cholesterol levels and keep the good HDL levels high, which can help decrease your chance of heart disease and cholesterol build-up in your arteries. Avocados have recently been discovered to help with adrenal fatigue, most likely because of the high magnesium content. Research suggests eating an avocado once a day to help combat adrenal fatigue, something know to contribute to a slew of health issues ranging from depression to weight gain. Avocados may not completely eliminate this syndrome, but it definitely can’t make it worse. So if you think or know you suffer from adrenal fatigue, it might do you good to get some testing done and throw in an avocado into your daily eating routine.
Avocados are simple to add to your diet thanks to their mild flavor and soft texture. Besides making a great homemade guacamole, you can dice avocados up in to just about any salad, top off your morning eggs with a few slices, or even mash half an avocado on your bread instead of mayonnaise. The flavor of avocados make it easy to mix and blend into sauces and dressings. It all depends on the type of taste you or your family prefers.
So the next time you are at your local grocery store, consider picking up an avocado or two to have on hand at home. To choose the perfect avocado look for a dark green to almost purple skin and it should be easy to indent the side with just a slight push of your thumb. If you only have bright green avocados to choose from, simply stick them in a brown paper bag when you get home and they will quickly ripen in just a few days. Whatever you do, don’t miss out on these amazing fruits and the health benefits they bring to your body!