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In his expert series on affordable, accessible superfoods, author Dave Lieberman talks about why avocados, and their fat, are good for you, reveals the best way to keep avocados fresh and shares preparation tips beyond the tried-and-true guacamole.
Avocados have more fat than virtually any other fruit, which is why a lot of people shy away from eating them. But all that fat is the incredibly good-for-you, monounsaturated kind that has the power to protect your heart from disease! And then there's the fiber content—avocados have a higher fiber content than any other fruit out there with 30 percent of your daily recommended amount in a single cup. So, eating avocados will not only protect your heart but lower your cholesterol too!
Putting the pit into a bowl of guacamole will keep it from turning brown, right? Actually, not entirely. Exposure to oxygen is what turns avocados' flesh brown, so while the pit may keep the area it's in direct contact with green, it won't do anything at all for the rest of that bowl. What does work is adding lime or lemon juice to avocado flesh. The acid slows the oxidization process, which means your guac will stay green longer.
The best way to pick a ripe, tasty avocado is to get your hands on one. Literally. Ripe avocados give to the touch but should still have some firmness to them. You're definitely not going for a mushy consistency here. A lot of people think they can go by an avocado's color, but there are hundreds of varieties of avocados, some of which turn dark when they're ripe and others that don't. So, the feel-good test is the fail-safe one.
Most people's avocado repertoires start and stop with guacamole, but avocado is incredibly versatile. I work it into everything from soups to salads and even desserts! One of my favorite recipes from my new book is a hot and spicy avocado soup that makes me feel like I'm back in Mexico. And because avocados are naturally high in creamy, heart-healthy fat, I substitute avocado in place of other kinds of fatty ingredients that aren't as good for you, like butter.
Getting Kids to Eat It
Because avocados have such a mild flavor, they can be slipped into all kinds of food and remain undetected by children and adults alike. One of my favorite ways to use avocados is actually in sweet, creamy things like smoothies, mousse and even brownies. Every kid I know loves a banana and strawberry smoothie! Just add a half of an avocado, and they will think you added big heaps of ice-cream to the mix because it turns out so rich and creamy. It can be your little secret.
Check back in two weeks to get one of Dave's delicious avocado recipes!
More About Superfoods from Dave Lieberman
Published on March 30, 2010