Avocado: The Allgator Pear

Avocados are a wonderfully nutritious fruit (yes – fruit!) that comes from an evergreen tree that can grow up to 65 feet tall.  Because of its shape and the texture of its skin – the avocado is known as ‘The Alligator Pear’.

Avocado

Avocados

In my research – I found a number of very interesting facts about avocados.  Here are 3 facts – which may surprise you as much as they surprised me:

  1. Fresh avocado, or avocado oil can increase the absorption of lycopene and beta-carotene, which are two important carotenoid antioxidants.
  2. The way an avocado is peeled can make a big difference in the nutrition or how healthy the fruit is for you. The dark green flesh just below the avocado’s skin contains the greatest concentration of carotenoid antioxidants.  When removing the skin – be very careful not to remove the dark green flesh as well.
  3. Despite the green color – the flesh of avocados contain a large number of carotenoids (most people normally associate carotenoids with the color orange or red, like carrots or tomatoes).  These include beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, lutein, neochrome, neoxanthin, chrysanthemaxanthin, beta-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin and violaxanthin.  Lutein and zeaxanthin are particularly helpful for the eyes.

Many people think that avocados are not healthy because of their high fat content – not true! 

While it is true that approximately 85% of the calories in avocados come from fat, there are high quality benefits because of 3 unusual components of the fat:

  1. Phytosterols  – which provide anti-inflammatory benefits.  Research has shown this to be particularly helpful with arthritis.
  2. Polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols (PFAs) – also provide anti-inflammatory benefits for us.  The PFAs in avocados are unique because PFAs are mostly found in ocean plants, not in land plants.
  3. Oleic acid – comprises more than half of the avocado’s total fat.  This fat is similar to the fat in olives and olive oil.  Oleic acid helps the body absorb fat-soluble nutrients like carotenoids, and it helps lower the risk of heart disease.

Need more reasons to add avocados to your menu?

  • Avocados are low glycemic (won’t cause spiking and crashing of blood sugar)
  • they contain relatively low carbs
  • they contain:
    • omega-3 fatty acids
    • fiber
    • folate (helpful for cell repair)
    • vitamins K, C, B5, B6, E
    • phosphorous
    • zinc
    • magnesium
    • a high amount of potassium.

For a relatively small fruit – avocados certainly pack a nutritious punch!

Here are some storage tips:

  • Refrigerate avocados only if they are ripe. They will keep up to a week in the fridge.  If you have used only half of a ripe avocado – the remainder can be wrapped in plastic & stored in the fridge.
  • Firm avocados can be placed in a paper bag to ripen, or on your counter at room temperature. When the fruit is ripe the skin will darken.
  • When avocado flesh is exposed to air it will turn brown.  To help prevent this – sprinkle the flesh with lemon juice.

Avocados are a great ingredient in a healthy green Smoothie – whether it is made with fruits and vegetables or just vegetables.

Besides increasing the nutrition of the Smoothie, they can also help provide a creamy texture.  Here is a Smoothie recipe that contains avocado: Wonderful Strawberry Kiwi Smoothie

Are you interested in learning more about antioxidants and how to increase your body’s antioxidant level?  Do you often feel tired, especially in the middle of the day, and would like to know how increase your overall energy level to last all day long?  Are you interested in learning what foods pack the highest punch nutritionally, and give you energy to do all the things you love to do?  If you answered YES to any of these questions – I can help!   Contact me.

 

Informational Resources:

Best Health Magazine article

The Globe and Mail article

The World’s Healthiest Foods  – Avocados

The Smoothies Bible, Second Edition by Pat Crocker

 

Copyright © 2013 Cathy Ormon – All Rights Reserved