Everyone knows the saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”, but apples aren’t the only fruit with health benefits. With National Guacamole Day just happening on September 16, we though it would be proper to get better acquainted with the avocado and talk about some of the super powers that avocados possess.
Guacamole, fondly referred to by some as “guac”, is a tasty spread commonly offered at Mexican restaurants. While the recipe may vary, two things that don’t change are its versatility and its delicious primary ingredient, avocados.
Avocados are a green, leathery-skinned fruit native to Central America, historically called “alligator pear” or “ahuacate” in Aztec. This may seem surprising, but they are botanically classified as berries, due to having a seed (the pit) and a fleshy pulp, but unlike most berries and fruits you may otherwise be familiar with, the flesh of the avocado is smooth and creamy like butter, with a mild, unassuming flavor. Grown on trees, they offer a plethora of health benefits and delicious uses in a variety of recipes.
The avocado’s super powers
Avocados are amazingly versatile. Why?
- Their flesh is firm enough to be cut into slices or diced, but smooth and soft enough to mash into a creamy spread.
- Their mild flavor lends itself to a multitude of surprising dishes, from sweet treats like chocolate mousse and smoothies, to savory recipes like avocado toast and guacamole.
- Their mildness also means they can be subbed in for butter and oil in baked goods, providing a healthier-fat alternative for your favorite cakes and muffins, and breads.
- You can use them as a bonding agent in recipes where flavors fight for attention—the soft texture and flavor of avocado brings dishes into harmony without calling attention to itself.
- You can share them with younger members of the family without triggering any “ick” faces. (You’ll even see avocado as an ingredient in baby foods—but feel free to offer it au naturel.)
On top of their seemingly limitless uses, avocados are incredibly good for you.
- They’re commonly known for being a good source of healthy fat, which helps lower cholesterol and, and possibly less commonly known to be high in fiber too. The healthy fat and high fiber content promote weight loss because they take longer to digest and keep you feeling satisfied longer (perhaps it’s the body’s way of taking the time to enjoy all that goodness).
- Packed with nearly 20 nutrients, they are another one of nature’s “superfoods”—this is especially important for anyone who is on a restricted diet while trying to get all the vitamins and minerals the body needs.
- Their oleic acid and carotenoid content have been shown in some studies to help lower cancer risk and even aid in cancer treatment.
- They’re high in potassium and virtually devoid of sodium, so anyone with blood pressure issues can indulge guilt-free (they are DASH diet-approved).
- They’re eye candy—so to speak—containing the carotenoid lutein, which has been shown to promote healthy eyes and vision.
- The Aztecs prized them as powerful aphrodisiacs (this may or may not be the case, but you’ll have to test them yourself).
Even if you’re not a fan of “green” food (yet), try the same trick my parents used on me when I was a kid to get me to eat my veggies: sneak it into your baked goods and smoothies, and other recipes where avocado is a “secret” ingredient. You’ll never know its there!