Avocados are the darling of the produce section. They’re the go-to ingredient for guacamole dips at parties. And they're also turning up in everything from salads and wraps to smoothies and even brownies. So what, exactly, makes this pear-shaped berry (yes, that’s right!) such a super food?
Avocados offer nearly 20 vitamins and minerals in every serving, including potassium (which helps control blood pressure), lutein (which is good for your eyes), and folate (which is crucial for cell repair and during pregnancy).
Avocados are a good source of B vitamins, which help you fight off disease and infection. They also give you vitamins C and E, plus natural plant chemicals that may help prevent cancer.
Avocados are low in sugar. And they contain fiber, which helps you feel full longer. In one study, people who added a fresh avocado half to their lunch were less interested in eating during the next three hours.
The Skinny on the Fat and Calories
Avocados are high in fat. But it's monounsaturated fat, which is a "good" fat that helps lower bad cholesterol, as long as you eat them in moderation.
Avocados have a lot of calories. The recommended serving size is smaller than you’d expect: 1/5 of a medium avocado (or 1 ounce) is 50 calories.
How to Prepare Avocados
Store avocados at room temperature, keeping in mind that they can take 4 to 5 days to ripen. To speed up the ripening process, put them in a paper bag along with an apple or banana. When the outside skins are black or dark purple and yield to gentle pressure, they’re ready to eat or refrigerate.
Wash them before cutting so dirt and bacteria aren’t transferred from the knife onto the pulp.
While guacamole is arguably the most popular way to eat avocado, you can also puree and toss with pasta, substitute for butter or oil in your favorite baked good recipes, or spread or slice onto sandwiches.
When ordering at a restaurant, remember that not all avocado dishes are created equal. Some items -- like avocado fries and avocado egg rolls -- are coated in batter and fried, making them much higher in both calories and fat.