Olé for Avocados

Though it seems too tasty to be true, the beloved fruit is a superfood worth celebrating.

As springtime swings into full gear, so does chip-and-dip season. And kicking it off is Cinco de Mayo, the happy-hour-heavy holiday lauding Mexican tradition and culture. Is there a better excuse to indulge in those undeniable cravings for margaritas and guacamole? I say no! “Guac” is one of the best recipes that uses the bright green, creamy fruit that tastes like no other: Avocado.

Although avocados often get pushed out of the limelight due to their high fat content, this is one food that deserves some major love for its unique health benefits. Avocados contain glutathione, a substance that blocks intestinal absorption of certain fats that cause oxidative stress. It's also an excellent source of antioxidants beta-carotene, vitamin E and folate, which stress-proof our bodies and cut down inflammation.  

Still worried about that fat? The monounsaturated fat in avocados help lower your risk of heart disease by reducing levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol. Plus, researchers have found that mashing up fruits and vegetables with avocado can actually increase the absorption of nutrients from those other ingredients. Vitamins A, D, E, and K in fat-free fruits and vegetables need avocado's heart-healthy fats in order to be absorbed by the body.  

Avocados are also a good source of fiber: one avocado contains 12 grams! All that fiber and those heart-healthy fats help us to feel satisfied, so we stay full and ward off cravings later.

If you’re just starting to incorporate avocados into your diet, there are a few things you should know about this alligator-skinned fruit. The method you use to peel an avocado can actually affect the nutrients you are getting from it. Researchers have found that the dark green flesh just beneath the skin of an avocado has the greatest concentration of carotenoids, the plant pigments that are powerful antioxidants. For the greatest possible benefits, use the slice-and-peel method: with the skin still on, cut the avocado in quarters, remove the pit, and then peel the skin off each avocado quarter instead of scooping out the avocado flesh.

Mango Guacamole

Mango Guacamole
(Serves 8)

Ingredients:

4 small ripe avocados
1/2 c. finely chopped Vidalia onion or shallot
1 fresh Serrano chili, finely chopped
1/4 c. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. salt
1 large tomato, seeds removed and diced
1 large mango, peeled and diced
1/4 c. fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tbsp. minced garlic

Directions:

1. Halve, pit and peel avocados. Mash in a bowl.

2. Stir in onion, chili, lime juice, salt, tomato, mango, cilantro, and garlic.

3. Serve with plantain or tortilla chips.

4. Storage: Cover bowl by pressing plastic wrap directly onto guacamole. This will keep avocado from browning. Refrigerate, and bring to room temperature and stir when ready to serve. 


Nationally recognized nutrition expert and author Keri Glassman (@KeriGlassman) is the founder and president of Nutritious Life, a nutrition practice based in New York City.