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©2010 Shanna Lea (formerly Shanna Ohmes)
Avocados have been cultivated since 8,000 B.C. in Central and South America by the traditional cultures that lived there. The nutrient-dense properties of this tropical fruit are now verified by science as promoting health for the heart, bone and blood. Here are just a few of the rich nutrients in avocados and what they can do to help you be healthy.
Promote Heart Health
Avocados are rich in potassium. Potassium is needed by the body to regulate blood pressure. Eating a potassium rich diet that includes avocados can help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke. Avocados are richer in potassium than bananas!
The monounsaturated fat in avocados lowers cholesterol. Folic acid and vitamin B6 can repair damaged artery walls. Copper and vitamin C protect cells from free radical damage.
Protects Your Eyes
Avocados are rich in carotenoid lutein which protects against cataracts and macular degeneration.
Promotes Blood and Bone Health
Avocados are rich in vitamin K which is essential to activate clotting factors in the blood and mineralize bone. Eating a diet rich in vitamin K will reduce your risk for osteoporosis.
Promotes Skin Health
Avocado butter and oil can restore the skin’s elasticity, eliminate dry patches, and soften skin. Avocados are rich in vitamin E.
How to Choose Avocados
Did you know that avocados do not ripen on the tree? They only ripen after they have been picked, so that is why you see them in the store as hard and green. Pick hard avocados, let them ripen in your kitchen for a few days and you will have them at the peak of freshness. Just set them on your counter for up to 7 days to ripen naturally. Once ripened, they will keep in the refrigerator for about 2 days.
Avoid picking avocados that are overripe, have dark sunken spots, cracks, or rattle when shaken. And when you cut into them, do not eat them if the inner fruit is brown. Overripe avocados indicate the formation of free radicals.
How to Tell if Avocados Are Ripe
Avocados are ripe when the skin turns from green to dark green/brown. They will also feel just slightly soft and give just a bit under pressure. And they have a beautiful green flesh inside.
Ways to Eat Avocados–Easy Avocado Recipes
- Make a dip! Mash 1 medium avocado, 1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice, ½ cup chopped cilantro and sea salt and black pepper to taste.
- Add 1 teaspoon chipotle chilies to the dip.
- Make it guacamole! Add diced tomato and chopped green onions to the dip.
- Use mashed avocados as a substitute for mayonnaise.
- Add crushed garlic to the dip and use as a spread.
- Add sliced avocados to tuna salad or chicken salad.
- Sprinkle soy sauce and lemon juice over avocado slices.
- Drizzle olive oil and herbal vinegar over tomato and avocado slices.
- Cream together avocado with a favorite vinaigrette and use as a salad dressing.
- Make a Mexican dressing. Blend these ingredients until creamy: ¾ cup water, juice of ½ lemon, 1 small chopped tomato, 1 sliced medium avocado, ½ cup cilantro, 1 teaspoon maple syrup and 1 teaspoon chili powder. Add cayenne pepper and sea salt to taste.
- Make a sauce for chicken: blend 1 small avocado, 1 cup warm chicken broth, sea salt and black pepper to taste. Pour over cooked chicken.
- Papaya salsa for chicken or fish. Combine the following ingredients: 1 diced medium avocado, 1 diced medium papaya, 1 diced small sweet onion, 1 tablespoon cilantro, 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger and 1 tablespoon lime juice. Add sea salt to taste.
Simple and Easy
Avocados are best eaten raw, so not only are they full of healthy benefits, but are great on-the-go snacks and great for single servings! Many times I just slice open an avocado, sprinkle with sea salt and scoop out the flesh to eat immediately. Throw the skins and seed in the compost and I’ve had a satisfying healthy snack with minimal clean-up!