‘Alligator pears’ is the nickname given to avocados. They do have a peculiar shape and general outer appearance I must admit, but there is no denying that they may just be one of the healthiest and most versatile foods around.
Avocado is the fruit of the avocado tree, scientifically known as Persea americana.
Avocados first arrived in Australia from North America in 1840 in seed form, but it wasn’t until the late 1960’s that a developing Australian industry began to take shape.
The two main varieties of avocados grown in Australia are Hass and Shepard.
The yellow-green flesh inside the fruit is eaten, but the skin and seed are discarded.
The faithful avocado is a rather unique fruit.
It has become an incredibly popular food among health-conscious individuals, being referred to as a superfood.
Now, this is not surprising given its health properties.
Let’s take a look…
A Healthy Boost To Your Diet
While most fruits consist primarily of carbohydrates, avocados are high in healthy fats. In fact, an average avocado can hold up to 15 grams worth.
In addition to good fats, they are jam-packed with 20 different vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, fibre, and protein.
Some of the most abundant nutrients include vitamin K, folate, vitamin C, potassium, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, and vitamin E.
Also present are small amounts of magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, zinc, phosphorous and vitamins A, vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and vitamin B3 (niacin).
This amazing fruit can also boost the nutrition of other healthy foods. Adding avocado to a salad can increase your ability to absorb goodies from other colourful ingredients five-fold (such as lycopene from tomatoes and beta carotene from carrots).
The unique combination of vitamins and minerals found in avocados can help keep your immune system fighting fit, your heart strong, boost energy, enhance brain power, build bone, aid gut health, support healthy skin and can even put you in a better mood. Basically, avocados make everything better!
While technically a fruit, avocado is often used as a vegetable in many recipes.
Not All Fats Are Created Equal
Avocados contain mostly monounsaturated fats which can assist weight loss via appetite control (or satiety) and for this reason, they are popular in ketogenic diets.
Higher fat diets are more enjoyable and easier to stick to in the longer term than low-fat diets, ensuring greater weight management success.
Studies have found that avocados contain the monounsaturated fat, oleic acid, which triggers the release of gut hormones, glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) and gastric inhibitory polypeptide (GIP), which control insulin release.
Avocados also inhibit the action of acetyl-CoA carboxylase, a key enzyme in the production of fat in the body and they also modulate other enzymes involved in carbohydrate metabolism.
Once the dieters’ foe – avocados are now the dieters’ friend.
A Wonderful Food For Mums-To-Be And Baby
Nutritional needs are increased during pregnancy so enjoying nutrient-dense foods like avocado is a great way to ensure you are getting more bang per mouthful.
Avocados are a source of folate which helps support a healthy pregnancy, B-group vitamins to fight tiredness, and healthy fats to boost the nutrient absorption from other foods.
With their soft, creamy texture, mild flavour and impressive nutrient composition, avocados are also a great first food for babies.
The vitamins and minerals found in a single serve of avocado assist with infant growth and development, brain function, muscles and nerves, bones and teeth, vision, skin and hair, healthy gut, immunity and the absorption of iron.
A Great Mood Food
Did you know what you put in your mouth doesn’t just affect your body but can impact your brain and nervous system? This is what we term gut-brain connection.
Avocados contain a brain-loving bundle of nutrients that help put you in a good mood, boost your energy levels and fight fatigue – talk about the ultimate food to kick-start your day!
It’s avocados delicious combination of niacin, folate, potassium, vitamin B5 and vitamin C that help your brain and nervous system perform at its best.
The Difference Between The Types Of Avocados?
– most common avocado variety Australia-wide
– classic oval shape
– distinctive pebbly, textured skin
– changes colour as it ripens – green to purple-black
– available nearly all year round
– creamy texture and taste
– available every year for a limited time (February to April)
– longer and more elongated
– smooth, glossy green skin
– always stays green, even when ripe
– nutty flavour and buttery texture
– doesn’t brown when cut
How To Enjoy Your Avocado
There are endless ways of using avocado every day. Here are just a few to tempt your taste buds:
- Smashed avocado on toast – try a poached egg or smoked salmon on top.
- Mix avocado into scrambled eggs.
- Use avocado in place of mayo for egg sandwiches or instead of any processed spreads (such as margarine) for a healthier choice.
- Avocado in sandwiches, wraps, and burgers – add plenty of vegetables, plus some seafood (eg tuna, salmon or prawns), egg or legumes (black beans, tofu or hummus).
- Rice and noodle bowls with avocado – add different coloured veggies, legumes (eg lentils, black beans), nuts (eg almonds, cashews or pistachios) and seeds (sunflower, pumpkin or chia), plus some egg, seafood or chicken.
- Salads with avocado such as green salad, pasta salad or salad with lean meat or seafood (eg prawn and avocado salad).
- Guacamole or avocado salsa with lean meat, chicken, seafood, eggs, beans or vege-burgers.
- Avocado in shakes and green smoothies and ‘better-for-you’ sweet treats such as chocolate mousse and ice-cream.
Check out my recipe for BANANA & AVOCADO CHOCOLATE MOUSSE
NOTE: Please adjust these suggestions based on any diet restrictions or intolerances.
STORAGE: Pouring a teaspoon of lemon juice on the cut surface of the avocado helps form a protective layer which prevents oxidation and the avocado going brown in colour. Store this half in an airtight, opaque container, and refrigerate. Placing a slice of tomato on the cut surface also has the same action. The citric acid forms a protective layer that slows down the browning process.
The Bottom Line
Avocados are a great addition to a modern diet, which is often lacking nutrients. They are so body-loving and they taste incredible.
I would strongly recommend you find a way to eat at some avocado every day so that you too can feel its powerful health benefits.
Go and be creative…your body will thank you!
**If you’ve got this far – thank you for reading and I look forward to bringing you more information in the future.
Now, some quick lessons on how to pick and cut up your ‘alligator- pear’…