As with all fruits and vegetables, wash avocados before cutting. Check out our tips for how to choose and use California Avocados
Written by our friend Bonnie Taub-Dix, MA, RDN, CDN
Certain words like “antioxidants,” “phytonutrients,” and “probiotics,” have become part of our everyday language. As a registered dietitian nutritionist, I know they are good for us, yet most people don’t know what those terms mean. The same goes for the word, “superfood.”
What Makes Avocados a Superfood?
From my perspective, what makes a superfood “super” is that they contain a variety of nutrients that support health and well-being. Ideally, a superfood’s value would be further enhanced if these foods were also easily accessible, affordable and of course enjoyable.
I consider fruits and vegetables to be the jewels in the superfood crown, and one of my family’s favorites, the California Avocado, stands out from the rest for an assortment of reasons, including the following:
Fast facts. One-third of a medium avocado (50 g) has 80 calories and contributes nearly 20 vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients including 254 mg of potassium and 3g of fiber, two nutrients we don’t get enough of according to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Diets rich in fiber may reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes, and as a fresh fruit, avocados contain 11% of your DV of dietary fiber. Plus, avocados are naturally sodium-free.
Avocado Health benefits. Avocados contain 136 micrograms of the carotenoids lutein + zeaxanthin per 50 g serving (one-third of a medium avocado) and some research suggests that these carotenoids may help maintain eye health, especially as we age. It’s not always easy to get vitamin E in our diets, and avocados contain 6% of your daily value of Vitamin E, an antioxidant that protects body tissue from damage and helps keep the immune system strong. Essential for growth and repair of tissues throughout the body, Vitamin C is an antioxidant that also contributes to a healthy immune system and avocados contain 4% of the DV for Vitamin C.
A fabulous fat. Too many of us are fat phobic and miss out on the benefits of those foods that contribute good fat and lots of flavor. A 50 gram serving (1/3 of a medium avocado) contains 1 gram saturated fat and is trans fat- and cholesterol-free. According to the American Heart Association, mono and polyunsaturated fats, when consumed in moderation (and eaten in place of saturated or trans fats), can help reduce blood cholesterol levels and decrease risk for heart disease. Avocados are one of the few fruits (yes, a fruit) that provide “good” fats (1 g poly and 5 g monounsaturated fat per serving).
Perfect Partner. Avocados can act as a “nutrient booster” by helping increase the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients like Vitamins A, D, K and E.
Culinary superstar. An avocado’s creamy texture makes it a perfect substitute for traditional baking ingredients, such as butter or shortening. Simply replace these ingredients with an equal amount of avocado in any muffin or quick bread recipe. As an example, your whole family will love my Avocado Pumpkin Bread with Dark Chocolate Chips and Almonds, in which I replaced one-third cup of butter, with 1 fresh ripe mashed California Avocado.
Sustainable. California Avocados are grown on small family farms. The growers plant with their hearts as well as solid practices; they put care into how their trees are nurtured, planted and harvested. Sustainability is not a trend for California Avocado farmers…it’s a way of life to ensure that the land they grow on is sustainable and fruitful for generations to come. They grow by taking people and our planet into consideration.
One size fits all. Avocado can be enjoyed by anyone at any age. Its creamy consistency makes it one of the first fresh foods a baby can enjoy. A 50 g serving of avocados provides 6 grams of unsaturated fats, known to be important for normal growth and development of the central nervous system and brain. Kids love to dip veggies into guacamole, teens and adults enjoy avocado sliced on salads and spread on sandwiches, and older adults savor the health qualities of those fats with benefits.
Versatile. California Avocados can seamlessly appear at any meal or snack. Whether they’re incorporated into a dip with veggies, used as a sauce with chicken or fish, tossed in a salad, or swirled in a smoothie, avocados provide a decadent creamy texture that can jazz up many of your traditional recipes.
When it comes to choosing powerhouse foods to feed my family, I’m not looking for something that will be trending today and passé tomorrow; I want foods we can count on every day. And keep in mind that just because a food has super qualities, doesn’t make it void of calories, so you’ll need to keep portion sizes in mind, no matter which food you choose.
Please share some of your super ideas with us on how you enjoy your avocados!