A Favorite Health Food- Avocados


Partner Content Idaho Nutrition Associates

Article by Mimi Cunningham, RDN & Heather Liddell, RDN

Photography by Heather Liddell

History of Avocados 

Although often associated with vegetables, avocados are fruits that have been cultivated for centuries. Within the last 20 years, consumption of avocados, according to the USDA, has jumped from one pound per person to seven pounds. The secret is out! 

Types of Avocados

While there are many avocado types, Hass avocados (pronounced like “pass”) are the most popular being known for their creamy texture, nutty flavor, and generous size. 

They account for 80 percent of avocados produced in the United States with 95 percent of Hass avocados being grown in California. 

You’ll recognize a ripe Hass by its dark, bumpy skin. Smaller avocados usually have a greener, smoother skin and may also darken as they ripen.

Hass avocados claim an accidental beginning when in 1926 a California postman, named Rudolph Hass, bought avocado seedlings to grow in his yard. One stubborn seedling didn’t immediately produce but when it did, the avocados were larger, darker, and richer in flavor than the others. 

Hass realized he was growing an exceptional avocado and ultimately partnered with a grower to promote the variety. Over time it gained popularity and became his legacy.

Today the avocado industry continues to research new avocado varieties that are more resistant to pests and growing challenges such as the climate change.

Benefits of Avocados

From guacamole, avocado toast, salads, sandwiches, and baked goods, the avocado has become a treasured culinary delight packed with health benefits.

Here are some the things you can take advantage of from an avocado:

Reduce Cardiovascular Disease. Studies have shown that eating at least 2 servings of avocado/week can decrease the risk of CVD (things like heart attacks, blocked arteries, etc). When half of a serving of margarine, butter, meat was replaced with avocado serving, the risk of CVD was even lower.

Decrease risk of becoming overweightAnother study found that people at a healthy weight at their baseline were less likely to become overweight if their diet included avocados.

Help support weight loss. Avocados are full of fat. While this may sound counter-intuitive, the fats found in avocado are considered healthy fats. These healthy fats help us stay full for longer. Because of this satiation, if eaten in moderation, avocados can be a helpful part of a weight loss diet.

High Fiber Food. Avocados are rich in fiber which plays an important role in our intestinal tracts. Fiber is necessary to allow our intestines to create bowel movements, help us absorb nutrients and build healthy gut bacteria. High fiber diets are also helpful to reduce risk of chronic diseases like Diabetes, Heart Disease, and certain cancers. Including avocados in your diet can help meet your fiber goals!

Working with a dietitian is one of the best ways to improve your health, increase your success with healthy weight loss, and prevent and manage your medical conditions. Idaho Nutrition has a team of dietitians that work with a variety of clients in their health journey. Reach out today to set up your appointment!

How to Pick the Best Avocados

Spring through fall are the best seasons to find abundant fresh avocadoes. The best way to tell if an avocado is ripe and ready for immediate use is to gently squeeze the fruit in the palm of your hand. Ripe, ready-to-eat fruit will be firm but will yield to gentle pressure. To learn more, CLICK HERE.

How to Speed Up Ripening Avocados

If you need to hurry the ripening process, place an unripe or hard avocado in a brown paper bag with an apple or a kiwi. Those fruits produce a natural ethylene gas that hastens the ripening process.

Microwaving is not recommended to soften an avocado. Flavor and texture are damaged making the avocado not especially fun to eat.


Keep Your Avocado from Browning

If you have a piece of cut avocado you aren’t using, lightly brush it with lemon or lime juice or vinegar then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate to keep it fresh and from browning.

Contrary to some popular beliefs, keeping the pit in the avocado does nothing to stop the browning process from occurring.

Want more help with your health and nutrition? Meet with one of our amazing dietitians to take your next step on your health journey.

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