Appearance and Basic Info
Also called the alligator pear because of its deep green wrinkled "leatheresque" skin, an avocado is a fruit about the same size as a pear or apple. It contains often a creamy bright green color pulp that surrounds a large seed in it's center.
Avocados are often shunned by many due to their high fat content, but lets examine the fat. One average sized avocado contains nearly a whopping 20 grams of fat! Don't have a heart attack, though; the type of fat contained in avocados is mostly monounsaturated.
Monounsaturated fats are considered healthy fats and linked to many health benefits. These fats actually help the heart remain healthy and can help fight heart disease and cholesterol. An average California avocado contains about 14 grams of monounsaturated fats (the good kind), about 2 grams of polyunsaturated fat (another good kind), and about 3 grams of saturated fat (the bad kind of fat). This composition is similar to olive oil. The ratio of healthy unsaturated fats to the dangerous saturated fat in avocados is about 5 or 6:1.
Fiber in Avocados
Don't let the creamy and buttery soft texture of the avocado fool you. One average avocado contains about 9 grams of fiber, which equates to over 25% of an adults recommended daily intake.
Fiber promotes a healthy gastrointestinal tract. Fiber helps reduce constipation and the risk of developing certain digestive disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome. It also helps lower bad cholesterol levels (LDL), helps regulate blood sugar and decrease the chance of developing diabetes, and helps to reduce hunger by making most people feel fuller for longer. Because of this, even with its high fat content, it's great for weight loss!
Not only are avocados are very high in vitamin K, something that many foods do not contain a significant amount of, they are also high in certain B vitamins, vitamin C, lutein, and potassium. In addition to all that good stuff, avocados help the body absorb nutrients when eaten at the same time. This fruit is very high in antioxidants.
They contain a small amount of protein, no sodium or cholesterol, and, according to Avocado.org, they "contribute nearly 20 vitamins, minerals and beneficial plant compounds that can contribute to the nutrient quality of your diet."
Dietary Uses of Avocados
When most people think of avocados they probably immediately think guacamole and not much else, but you can add this fruit to salads for an extra healthy flavor boost, or you can put a dollop in your bean soup as a garnish for color interest while adding extra nutritional value. Create a healthy salad dressing with olive oil, avocado, and your favorite sweet or spicy peppers. Throw some avocado in your potato salads and pasta salads. Add some to your burritos and put them on your kabobs. Toss with some pasta for a fresh alternative to the usual tomato sauce. I also love eating an avocado plain by itself with its light fresh flavor.
Make a roasted garlic dip with avocado. Stuff mushrooms with avocado. Use them in your stir-fry. Grill them and use them on your sandwiches. Avocados are a good substitute for other high fat foods. For example, if you are eating a quesadilla and love smothering sour cream on them, try using a smashed avocado as a substitute. Or use avocado spread on a bun with a sandwich instead of mayonnaise. These are just two examples of many, get creative!
Interestingly, because of its creamy smooth texture and fresh delicate flavor, avocados are perfect to use as one of baby's first fresh fruits!
Who'd Have Thought?
Avocado contains fiber, nutrients, and is very versatile. Obviously avocados promote good heart health, good digestive health, and are a good source of nutrients and can be used in a variety of dishes. This little fruit is a miracle. After all, who would have thought something so tiny yet so high in fat would help someone lose weight? I'll have some guacamole please, thanks!
Originally published at Yahoo! Contributor Network (Associated Content).