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Surprising Superfoods – Avocados

How about a buttery green fruit that you can spread on a sandwich, dice into a salad, or mash into a favourite dip? If avocados were only delicious and versatile, they would still be a treat worth serving frequently. Recent research has demonstrated that avocados also offer some surprising and powerful health benefits. One of the most nutrient-dense foods, avocados are high in fibre and, ounce for ounce, top the charts among all fruits for folate. potassium, vitamin E, and magnesium. Indeed, the very impressive health benefits of eating avocados regularly should encourage you to adopt them as a new SuperFood

The delicious healthy monounsaturated fat in the avocado is one of its biggest SuperFood health claims. The only other fruit with a comparable amount of monounsaturated fat is the olive. The monounsaturated fat in avocados is oleic acid. Half a California avocado has a really excellent overall nutrient profile. At 145 calories it contains approximately 2 grams of protein, 6 grams of fibre, and 13 grams of fat, most of which (8.5 grams) is monounsaturated fat

What’s so super about them?

Avocados are brimming with essential nutrients, including potassium, B-vitamins and folic acid. They also act as a so-called nutrient booster; when eaten with other foods, avocados enable the body to better absorb cancer-fighting nutrients, such as carotenoids, found in vegetables that include spinach and carrots. Avocados are a rich source of monounsaturated fatty acids, including oleic acid, which offers significant protection against breast cancer

The potassium content in avocados regulates blood pressure and helps guard against heart disease and strokes, as well as aiding digestion and helping the body flush out toxins

The combination of B6, C and D, riboflavin and manganese found in avocados helps maintain a strong immune system. They are also a good source of vitamins A and E, which help protect against cancer. Avocados are high in omega-3, which reduces the risk of heart disease and lecithin, a type of fatty acid crucial for healthy nervous tissue

While avocado won’t increase your IQ, it will help you make the most of what grey matter you’ve got. The potassium in avocados helps fight fatigue and depression, both of which reduce your ability to concentrate. It is thought that they are as good as blueberries for promoting brain health

Avocados are naturally high in fat, but it is mostly healthy, monounsaturated fat that is essential for plump, youthful skin. They also stimulate production of anti-wrinkle collagen, which, together with vitamin E, makes them the best food to eat for a healthy complexion

How many calories?

Avocados are high calorie. A large avocado can contain as many as 400 calories. A Mars Bar has 230 calories, but it’s not nearly as good for you

How many do I need to eat?

For a mood-boost, eat a small avocado every day for a week or so. Otherwise, eat a half or whole avocado several times a week

How should I eat it?

If you are on a diet, eating avocado scooped out of its skin will satisfy cravings for high-fat, unhealthy foods. Add avocado to salads, to maximise your nutrient intake.

Common varieties of avocado

The  most common type on sale in UK is the Hass avocado which is easy for consumers as the thick knobbly skin conveniently goes black as it ripens, The green-skinned Fuerte, with its slightly more refined flavour and lighter texture, is also an excellent fruit, particularly if you want a large avocado

Selecting and storing avocado

When selecting your Hass avocado ripeness can be measured by the colour of the fruit

-  if green, the fruit is unripe. Don’t refrigerate, instead leave in a bowl to ripen
-  once the skin is olive-green it has 2-3 days until it is ready to eat
-  when brown-green the fruit is ripe but firm. This is ideal for dicing or cutting into cubes
-  once dark brown the avocado is quite soft and as such is suitable for mashing or using in dips
-  if the skin has turned black the avocado is overripe and is not suitable for eating

Fuerte  avocado retain their light green colour even when ripe. It’s best to test firmness to determine degree of ripeness. To speed up ripening, place the avocado in a paper bag for a few days at room temperature. Or, keep avocado next to apples or bananas, as both release natural chemicals which help speed the ripening process. Once cut, any unused avocado should be sprinkled with lemon juice to prevent browning and stored in the fridge. If browning occurs simply cut-off and discard

To freeze simply remove the skin then puree the flesh, adding one tablespoon of lemon juice for every two avocado. Place into containers and freeze for up to 5 months

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