This week, we’re bringing you the delicious and nutritious Avocado as the Spartan Food of the Week. It’s extremely versatile, satiating, and loaded with nutrients, and we’ve got plenty of recipes to help you incorporate this superfood into your diet.
The avocado is thought to have originated in central or southern Mexico and was cultivated in Central Peru long before the arrival of the Europeans. Nowadays, avocados are grown in nearly all parts of the tropical and subtropical world. This leathery-skinned fruit, sometimes referred to as the “alligator pear” is actually classified as a berry, containing one large single seed.
Nutritional Data & Health Benefits
- Healthy Fats. Though often criticized for their high fat content, the fat in avocados contain primarily monounsaturated fat, the same type of heart-healthy fat found in olive oil. These monounsaturated fats help to lower the unfavorable LDL cholesterol, while maintaining or increasing the “good” HDL cholesterol, both beneficial effects to help prevent heart disease.
- Fiber. Avocados contain a high amount of dietary fiber. Fiber promotes digestive health, lowers blood cholesterol levels, and provides fuel for beneficial probiotic bacteria in our gut.
- Potassium. Avocados contain 35% more potassium than the so-called potassium superstar, the banana. Why is potassium important? Well, it’s an electrolyte mineral that helps our muscles function properly and keeps our blood pressure in a healthy range.
How to Select Avocados
- Give the avocado a gentle squeeze. The skin should yield slightly with a gentle touch if fully ripe. If it’s rock hard, it’s not ready to eat! If it’s very soft to touch, it’s spoiled.
- Once you crack open an avocado, it should have a consistent light to dark green color. If there are brown spots or streaks throughout the avocado, toss it.
How to Prepare Avocados
- Grab the avocado in one hand.
- Cut through the avocado lengthwise, spinning your knife all the way around the avocado’s large pit.
- Remove the seed from the avocado. The easiest way is to just spoon it out.
- Alternate riskier method: For safety, fold up a rag or towel and use this to hold the avocado half with the pit. Lightly hit the pit with a knife with just enough power so the knife barely enters the pit, but not so hard as to cut all the way through it. When the knife is in the pit, remove the knife with the pit attached. This method takes some practice and is not recommended since there is a chance of injury.