All About Avocados

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You’ve had them diced on tacos, mashed on toast, and mixed into guacamole, but how much do you really know about avocados? It turns out the little green fruits are packed with healthy fats, fiber (yes, fiber!), and many other essential nutrients, making them a smart addition to your diet.   

“The most well-known nutritional benefit of avocados is that they are high in monounsaturated fats, the same heart-healthy fats that are in nuts and olive oil,” says Rachael Hartley, RD, author of the upcoming book Gentle Nutrition. “They also have fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin E and K as well as magnesium and potassium.” On top of that, half an avocado contains about 7 grams of fiber and 2 grams of protein.

It might seem counterintuitive to eat a high fat food in order to be healthy, but research backs this up. A recent study from Penn State found that eating one avocado a day was associated with lower levels of LDL cholesterol (the bad kind). Combine that with the high levels of potassium, which can help to bring down blood pressure, you’ve got yourself a top heart-healthy food to add to your weekly shopping list.   

Even better? Avocados can also make your snacks and meals way more satisfying. “Including fat creates a more indulgent-feeling eating experience,” says Hartley. “And when the fat is broken down into fatty acids, it sends a signal to your brain to turn off hunger cues.” On top of that, the fat takes a longer time for your body to digest, which Hartley says makes you feel full longer. In other words, you won’t be so quick to reach for that next snack. Plus, all that fiber provides a double whammy of hunger-busting fullness.

So now that you know all the reasons you should eat more avocados, you’re probably wondering how to include them in your day. In addition to the ways mentioned above (everybody needs more guacamole in their lives!), here are some more unique ideas:

Use half of an avocado as a vessel. Hartley loves halving an avocado, taking the pit out, and filling the hole with crab salad, shrimp salad, or a smoked salmon mixture.

Grill up avocado halves. The next time you fire up the barbecue, throw on some avocado halves to give them a smoky flavor. “It’s easiest if you cut them in half and leave them in their skin, then just place cut side down on the grill,” says Hartley.

Use them as a condiment on your sandwich. Hartley mashes up avocado with some goat cheese and spreads that on sandwich bread instead of mayo.

Puree them into a soup. This Green Gazpacho with Cucumber & Avocado is creamy and bright, perfect for sipping on a summer day.

Toss them into any salad. The creamy, mild flavor goes with pretty much anything, like sweet potatoes, grapefruit, or even chickpeas.

Spoon them into your grain bowls. Add creaminess and color to your favorite grain bowls. Try this Quinoa Bowl with Black Beans, Mango & Avocado, or the California Roll Sushi Bowls with Crab & Avocado.  

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