Avocados are a delicious and wonderfully diverse treat; equally satisfying as a soup, salad, sandwich or featured in a main course. And they are so good for us — rich in monounsaturated fat, avocados actually help our bodies reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) and increase the good one (HDL).
Avocados are loaded with nutrition. In addition to their heart health qualities, avocados contain lots of beneficial vitamins, minerals and other nutrients important to our diet. An avocado contains almost twice the potassium as a medium banana, and it is a good source of vitamin K, dietary fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin C, folic acid and copper.
I also happen to think that avocados are very sexy! The avocado has to be the most sumptuous and sensual of fruits. No wonder it appears on everybody’s list of aphrodisiac foods and is the subject of so much wonderful art — it’s round and curvaceous shape, the way the skin feels in your hand, the big, sexy seed embedded in the middle of all that goodness that’s revealed when you cut it in half, as well as the perfect void it creates when removed, its silky, soft and creamy texture of its flesh and of course, that rich, mellow and decadent taste.
Although we use it more like a vegetable in our cuisine, it is botanically a tropical fruit. It is grown all over the world and is used for many different purposes. The leaves and seeds have medicinal applications, and the oil extracted from the seeds is used in the bath and body care industry. The avocado is a fast-growing subtropical tree that can reach 80 feet tall. The trees are usually quite dense in foliage and often have a spreading growth form. The pear-shaped fruit is green to black in color, depending on variety. Today it is one of the most popular and commonly available tropical fruits, Americans consume almost a billion of them every year. The avocados in your supermarket probably came from Mexico, California, Hawaii or Florida. California is the number one producer of avocados in the United States. Mexico is the world's leading producer.
Avocados can be eaten fresh as is, but are more commonly used in conjunction with other foods. It is grown all over the world and is used for many different purposes. The leaves and seeds have medicinal applications, and the oil extracted from the seeds is used in the bath and body care industry.
Purchasing Avocados — Select avocados that are soft to the touch, but not mushy. The flesh should be firm not hard, and yield when pressure is applied to the skin. To hasten ripening, store avocados in a closed paper bag on the counter. Once ripe, refrigerate to maintain them until ready for use.
Preparing Avocados — Cut the avocado in half lengthwise to remove the pit. If the avocado is going to be mashed or pureed for a sauce, the pulp can be easily scooped from the shell with a spoon. If it is to be cut into slices for a salad or garnish, lay the avocado half cut side down on your cutting board, score the skin with a sharp knife, and peel it away from the pulp, then proceed to cut the avocado pulp into slices
Hass (California) or Caribbean (Florida) — which one to use? — they’re both great! California are smaller — so there is less yield per fruit, but fruit is denser and higher in calories — maybe a better choice for guacamole, sauces and soups. Florida avocados are much bigger, the fruit is much less dense and it has fewer calories. It may be a better choice for salads and for stuffing. In some parts of the country the price differential alone, may make the choice easy for you.Avocados are a good source of Vitamin E, which is not only essential for the normal functioning of the body but is also a potent anti-oxidant which protects polyunsaturated fatty acids in cell membranes from free-radical attack. Free-radicals are linked to the beginnings of cancer and heart disease.