Food Spotlight: Avocado
The avocado fruit grows on the Persea Americana tree and it can be pear-shaped, grape-shaped or spherical. It is usually 7 to 20 cm long and weighs from 100 g to 1 kg. Avocado has a rich creamy texture and a full buttery taste. It is a tropical fruit.
Nutrition and health benefits
Avocados are very healthy because of the high monounsaturated fat content, presence of omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids, as well as vitamins B, K, C, E and potassium. They are low in sugar and rich in fiber that gives a sense of fullness for longer period of time. Therefore, it helps in appetite regulation.
The health benefits of avocados are numerous and include:
- decreased risk of cancer and depression as well as maintenance of healthy pregnancy because of the presence of folate
- reduced symptoms of arthritis and osteoporosis because of the presence of vitamin K
- lowered inflammation and improved sight because of the presence of vitamin E
- improved digestion and regulation of bowl movement because of the high fiber content
- leveled blood pressure because of the presence of potassium
- decreased risk of heart disease because of the presence of monounsaturated fats
- better absorption of fat-soluble nutrients like vitamins A, D, E, and K
Avocado is used in both sweet and savory cuisine and is common in vegetarian dishes. Avocado is eaten raw as part of sandwiches, in salads, and also as the basis for the Mexican dip guacamole. In general, a plant-based diet including avocado helps in prevention of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
When store-bought avocados should be left to become ripe. You can either wrap them in a paper bag or place them next to bananas. When ready-to-be-eaten avocados feel a little soft when you press them. Avocados should not be kept in the fridge unless they are already ripe. Once cut, squeeze some lemon juice on top of the avocado so it will not oxidize and become brown.
Because of its high caloric value, the amount of avocados eaten per week should be limited to no more than 2, and combined with other low calorie fruits and vegetables. Otherwise it can lead to weigh gain.
If you have intolerance or sensitivity to the polyols or natural sugars in avocado, it can cause gas, bloating or upset stomach up to 48 hours after eating it. Although rare, avocado allergies are known to exist. Symptoms that appear are stuffy nose, wheezing, coughing and edema.
Also, because avocado contains vitamin K that plays a role in blood clotting, be careful of the amount you consume if you are taking blood thinners.