After a long-lasting fat scare that started in the 80s, the avocado has finally recovered its reputation and has seen a great spike in popularity over the last few years. Everyone’s new favourite food has been around for a long time, though: Originally from Central and Southern America, the name of the avocado comes from the Aztec language Nahuatl and simply means ‘testicle’. This name made its way to most of the Western world through the Spanish language, and the green fruit has also been called avocado pear, crocodile pear and alligator pear with reference to its thick, coarse skin. What many people don’t know is that the avocado is actually a fruit and grows on trees. A regular avocado tree can yield around 120 fruit every year.
Great nutritional value
This green, egg-shapes fruit is often considered a superfood by nutritionists, and there is a good reason for it. With most avos containing 300-500 calories, they are very rich and filling, and while they’re very low in sugar, more than 10% of the weight is made up of fat, which makes them ideal for a low carb high fat diet. Their thick skin protects a great mix of nutrients as well. More than 14 minerals, protein and fibre sit under the green cover, along with 18 amino acids, omega 3, vitamins A, B, C, E and K and iron. Avocados are also rich in kalium and caretonoids, which maintain healthy heart and muscle functions in the body and help protect the body against cancer and diabetes. The amount of minerals, fat and fibre can even help to balance cholesterol values, regulate the blood sugar and repel infections. If you were still wondering why nutritionists consider avocados a superfood – now you know.
The avocado is one of the few fruits that contain a relatively high amount of protein: roughly 2g of it make up every 100g. This means that 2% of the fruit consists of protein, and a whole fruit can give you about 4g of pure protein. On top of that, the protein in avocados is entirely made up of the type that your body can absorb immediately, in contrast to certain types of protein in meat, for example. While the avocado cannot exactly beat a boiled egg or two with its protein contents, it is a very valuable resource for vegans, who do not get their protein intake from eggs and meat, and it is a great alternative for other fruit and snacks with lower contents. For instance, a banana contains only around 1g of protein per fruit, meaning you would need to eat four bananas to get the same protein as an average avocado provides! Especially as a post-workout snack, it is definitely more suitable if you are looking to build up muscle. (That’s not to say that bananas aren’t a good snack, by the way. They still contain a lot of carbs and fibre.) By the way, there is no need to be worried about a high intake of avocados: Your body will still be able to absorb all the goodness. In fact, with a dietary reference intake of 0.8g of protein per kg in bodyweight, an average man would have to eat at least 10 to 11 whole avocados to hit the limit of the body’s daily protein intake.
Why they are good for you
There are countless reasons to start eating more avocados. A great advantage is that they are suitable for most lifestyles and diets: Vegetarian, vegan, gluten or lactose intolerant eaters can all enjoy this fruit without a worry. The very high fat content, most of which stems from mono- or polyunsaturated fats, makes it an ideal addition to a low carb diet as well. Avocados are also a good fit for people on a balanced diet and for those who are trying to build up muscle.
Due to the high amount of fat, many people avoided them in the 1980s and 1990s. However, more recent studies have all found that the vast majority of fat in avocados comes from mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, or as most avo enthusiasts call it, “the good kind of fat”. The high fat and fibre contents in this fruit can help reduce the feeling of hunger and cravings for sweet and sugary food, which in turn can help to reduce snacking in between meals. Unless you are on a very strict low fat diet, you can probably give in to avocado cravings without guilt.
How to get the most out of your avocado
Control the ripening – Sometimes it is impossible to locate a ripe avocado that can be eaten on the same day, so you might have to plan accordingly. The best is of course to always have a few of them at home and consume them once they’re ripe, since you really can’t eat too many of them. If you want your avos to ripen faster, you can either bake them for an hour at a very low temperature, or simply put one or two of the green fruits in a paper bag with a banana or an apple – they will speed up the process.
Keep them for longer – In case you are strong-willed enough to only eat one half at a time and want to keep the other half in the fridge, make sure to keep the stone. It will prevent the fruit flesh from going brown. Another great way to save half an avocado is by rubbing lemon juice on the flesh and covering it with cling film before it goes in the fridge.
Don’t spoon – Many recipes and videos show someone cutting the fruit in halves and spooning out the flesh. This is far from being the best way, though. Since most of the nutrients sit just under the thick dark skin, you’ll lose them by spooning out the flesh. A much better way is to cut the avocado into several parts and gently peel off the skin. The brownish layer you see on the fruit flesh is packed with nutrients!
Don’t cut yourself – Due to its rising popularity, avocado-related injuries in the kitchen have also seen a great increase in numbers and doctors and nurses in the UK have already invented a name for them: Avocado hand. This happens when people try to prod out the core with a knife and slip. To avoid avocado injuries, you should cut around the whole fruit first before you twist the halves. Instead of prodding at the core in your hand, simply put the avocado down in front of you and cut lengthwise into the core with a sharp knife. That way, your hand cannot come into contact with the knife, and you only have to pick it up and twist it until the core comes loose.
Not just for your stomach – We’ve been praising just how packed with nutrients this fruit is and how great it works as an alternative source for a higher protein intake, but there are many more ways you can use avocados to profit from its goodness. An avocado-based treatment can do wonders for your hair and skin. The antioxidants, amino acids and oil it contains can help repair damaged hair, moisturise your skin, relieve sun burn and even minimise wrinkles in the skin.Healthy Recipes
Its distinctive flavour and creamy texture make avocados a perfect fit for almost all food and it goes with both sweet and savoury food alike. You can combine it with other fruit to make a green smoothie, mash it to replace the butter on your toast, mix it into a creamy dressing for a salad or eat it just as it is. There are no limits to avocado cooking, but we’ve collected a few healthy recipes to get your imagination started:
1 large slice of bread
1. Toast the bread
2. In a bowl, mash the avocado flesh and add a dash of limejuice.
3. Spread the avocado mash on the toast and sprinkle with salt.
You can top your avocado toast with almost anything. Try adding a poached egg, a few slices of smoked salmon or simply fresh cucumber and tomato.
½ red onion
1 garlic clove
Salt, pepper to taste
1. Dice the tomato and red onion into small cubes.
2. Cut and peel the avocados and mash in a small bowl.
3. In a separate bowl, mix the diced tomato, onion, avocado mash, limejuice and pressed garlic. Flavour with chili flakes, salt and pepper to taste.
4. Serve as a dip with homemade fries or nachos.
Tip: If you put one of the avocado cores in your dip, it will prevent it from going brown.
2 handfuls of fresh baby spinach
1 tbsp grated ginger
2 cups almond milk
4 dates, pitted and dried
1. Cut and peel the avocado.
2. Peel and grate the ginger.
3. In a food processor, mix the avocado, spinach, ginger, almond milk and pitted dates until you get a smooth, creamy drink.
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
2. Cut the avocados into halves and remove the core. With the help of a teaspoon, spoon out some of the flesh where the core sat to make a bigger hole. Put the avocado halves into an oven tray.
3. Crack open the eggs and separate the yolks. Add one yolk into each avocado half.
4. In the middle of the oven, bake the avocado halves for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked.
5. Sprinkle with chili flakes, cilantro, salt and pepper to taste.
Cold avocado soup
3.5 cups vegetable broth
1 garlic clove
½ cup crème fraiche
½ cup natural yogurt
1 tbsp limejuice
2 tbsp virgin olive oil
1. Cook the broth and cool it in the fridge.
2. Cut the onion and carrot into small chunks.
3. In a frying pan or a pot, heat the olive oil and fry the onion, pressed garlic and carrot for 2-3 minutes.
4. Add the vegetable broth and let simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, until the soup thickens. Allow to cool and put in the fridge.
5. Cut and peel the avocados and remove the core.
6. In a food processor, blend the avocado, yoghurt and crème fraiche until you get a smooth mixture.
7. Take the pot with the broth and vegetables out of the fridge when cooled. With a stick blender, mix it until there are no chunks left. Add the avocado and cream mix into the pot and stir until smooth. Add limejuice and salt and pepper to taste.
8. If the soup is too thick at this point, it can be diluted with more vegetable broth.
9. Serve the avocado soup cold out of the fridge. Garnish with diced red onion, cilantro or chili flakes if desired.
8-10 dates, pitted and dried
1 ripe banana
1 dash of Vanilla bean powder
1 dash of cinnamon
½ cup cocoa powder
1. Cut and peel the avocados and banana.
2. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze out the juice. Grate the lemon zest and save it.
3. In a food processor, add the diced avocado and banana, the dates, lemonjuice and lemon zest and blend until smooth. This can take a while and you might have to open the lid and stir the ingredients a little. Once the mix is completely smooth, add the vanilla bean powder and the cinnamon and blend again. Slowly add in the cocoa powder until the mousse is to your liking.
Shared under Creative Commons – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
slgckgc – https://flic.kr/p/9wqRwD
Erich Ferdinand – https://flic.kr/p/b2Akwx