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I like to think of avocado as nature’s mayonnaise – add it to anything and it will be instantly improved. It’s delicious, rich, and packed full of healthy benefits. This superfood has reached levels of popularity unbeknownst to most health crazes; it’s now included in many restaurant chains and has prominent placement in grocery stores. Now that it’s so easy to get, there’s no reason not to add it to your diet.
Avocadoes contain all of the omega fatty acids. Omega-3 and -6 help control blood pressure and inflammation, and they help keep your brain functioning at its peak. Omega-9 fatty acids help your nerve cells run efficiently. The mono and polyunsaturated fats help lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease. Avocado is also high in fiber and vitamin C. Plus, the Wall Street Journal says that it is a “nutrient booster,” meaning that it helps you absorb nutrients from other foods consumed at the same time.
The fats in avocados are good fats, but they’re still fats. That’s something to keep in mind as you shovel the delicious, buttery fruit flesh into your mouth. Eating a whole avocado will rack up 250 calories and 22.5 grams of fat (that’s just about fast food burger territory). Nutritionists warn that fats shouldn’t be more than one-third of the calories you consume during the day. A serving size is about two tablespoons, but who can stop at just two tablespoons? That tiny serving contains 4.5 grams of fat and 50 calories.
Of course, it still has fewer calories than butter or mayonnaise, and it is just as delicious. If you’re new to avocado, you can sneak it into your diet by substituting it in equal parts into recipes that call for butter. It works well in brownies, muffins, and quick breads. Chocolate mousse can be made with the superfood, too. I love to put it on burgers or sandwiches in place of mayonnaise.
Avocado has never been easier to find. You can pay a little bit extra to add it to your Subway sandwich. Panera Bread and Au Bon Pain have added avocado to their menus, too. It’s already a staple of Mexican food to balance out the spicy flavors, so you can find it at Mexican restaurants or in guacamole.
If you’re brave enough to buy it for yourself at the grocery store, it’s important to check if it’s ripe. Give the avocado a quick squeeze. It should be soft, but not too soft. If it has more than just a little give or if it feels liquefied within its bumpy green skin, that’s not the avocado for you. If it’s rock solid, it just needs time to ripen. You can either leave the hard avocado on the windowsill or, to hurry the ripening along, you can place it in a paper bag with an apple or banana (which will release gases to speed up the process).
To cut into an avocado, cut the fruit in half but leave the pit in the center intact. Twist each half in opposite directions to pull the halves apart. To remove the pit, carefully press a knife into it until it is stuck enough to move the pit with it and twist to remove. Then scoop out the flesh, or you can cut segments out of it and remove the peel. Just remember, a serving is one-fifth, so to store the rest you can wrap it in plastic wrap or put in face-down in a plastic container. The Kitchn recommends putting a piece of onion in with it to prevent browning.
Now you’re a pro, so go nosh on some avocado.