The ingredient: avocado
Avocados are a summertime smash! But there’s more to this super-fruit than guacamole. Whether they’re smashed or sliced, avocados can add heart-healthy flavor to a variety of dishes. Here, we’ve included recipes to expand your avocado horizons—Avocado-Orange Salad, Spiced Avocado Sandwich Spread and Broiled Fish with Avocado Salsa—as well as a classic, chip-worthy Guacamole recipe.
Did you know?
- What is an avocado?
The avocado is technically a seeded berry. But it’s unlike most fruits in that more than three-fourths of its calories come from fat—almost all of which is healthful monounsaturated fat. The avocado was brought from Central America to be cultivated in the United States in the mid-1800s; California and Florida now produce most of the domestic crop. The Hass variety (the most flavorful) has bumpy, leathery skin and silky flesh, earning it two nicknames: alligator pear and butter pear.
- How do I choose an avocado?
Choose an avocado that feels heavy for its size. Allow it to ripen in a paper bag (along with a banana or other fruit) for several days. (Unlike other fruits, which ripen on the tree, an avocado won’t begin to ripen until it’s picked.) When the avocado dents under gentle pressure and the skin turns from dark green to almost black, it’s ready. The flesh should be pale greenish yellow, and the skin should peel off easily. To store a cut avocado in the fridge, brush the surface or mash the flesh with lemon juice and cover tightly. Or freeze the mashed avocado and use it within four months
- Why should I eat avocados?
The avocado is very good for your heart. Its monounsaturated fat can lower blood cholesterol and may even help decrease belly fat, a risk factor for heart disease. A compound called beta-sitosterol provides a second cholesterol-lowering punch. Avocados also have vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, B vitamins and fiber. And half of one contains nearly as much heart-healthy potassium as a small banana. But don’t share with your pet! Avocados contain persin, a substance that is toxic to dogs, cats, birds and even horses.