In the produce section, there’s a fruit making all others green with envy. If you guessed the pear-shaped berry (yes, we said berry) known as avocado, you’re correct. But are avocados really good for you? And are there any other ways to enjoy them besides guacamole? How to eat avocado is easier and tastier than you might realize. Yet before we share some of our favorite tips and recipes, let’s take a quick look at why this star of the produce section shines.
Yes, Avocados Are Good for You (Really)
While avocados are the main ingredient of one of America’s most beloved party dips, they’re also showing up in everything from burgers and salads to smoothies and desserts. Here are just some of the reasons why this green berry reigns a supreme superfood:
- Avocados provide nearly 20 vitamins and minerals in every serving, including 20 percent of your daily recommended amount of folate, 17 percent of your daily recommended amount of vitamin C and 26 percent of your daily recommended amount of vitamin K.
- Avocados have more potassium than bananas. Studies have shown that routine consumption of potassium can help you maintain a healthy blood pressure (high blood pressure is linked with heart attacks, stroke and kidney failure).
- Avocados may be high in fat, but the fat is monounsaturated, a “good” fat that actually helps lower bad cholesterol, as long as it’s eaten in moderation.
- Avocados are high in fiber. Fiber helps you feel full longer, and therefore, has important benefits for weight loss and metabolic health. A 3.5-ounce serving of avocado contains 7 grams of fiber, or 27 percent of the daily recommended amount.
- Avocados are loaded with antioxidants, specifically lutein and zeaxanthin. These nutrients are essential for eye health, and lower your risk of macular degeneration and cataracts.
- Avocados are a good source of B vitamins, which can help you stave off disease and infection.
Despite the many health pluses, it’s important to keep in mind that avocados aren’t calorie-free. One ounce (or one-fifth) of a medium avocado equals 50 calories.
How to Eat Avocado (and Love It)
Now that we’ve told you why avocados love you, we’ll show you how you can love to eat them. Below you’ll find 12 delicious ways to think outside the standard party-dip bowl:
1. Avocado smoothie, anyone? You scream, I scream, we all scream for avocado smoothies. To be honest, it isn’t ice cream, but it may be the next best thing (and it’s good for you, too). Avocados make for a great summer-time smoothie. Simply combine:
- 1 ripe avocado (halved and pitted)
- 1 cup milk
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
- 8 ice cubes
into your blender, and blend until smooth.
2. Go ahead, have fries with that. No fryer needed. Simply slice the avocado, dip the slices in egg, roll in bread crumbs and bake. Check out this tasty recipe from Epicurious.
3. You’re on a (sushi) roll. This sushi recipe from Health.com features an avocado and shrimp roll that’s as tasty as it is easy to roll. The secret to its straightforwardness is the fiber-rich addition of avocado. You can also boost your fiber by switching to brown rice.
4. Now you’re cooking. Cooking avocado. What used to be considered a mistake is now a foodie trend. For a vegan-friendly dish, brush a grill or grill pan with olive oil and place half a pitted avocado face down on the heat for three to four minutes. Fill the cavity with your favorite salsa.
For breakfast, whisk an egg, and season with salt, pepper and garlic. Pour into a pitted avocado half and bake for four or five minutes at 350 degrees until egg is set.
5. More mac and cheese, please. This avocado mac and cheese recipe only takes 30 minutes to prepare, it’s perfect for any weeknight dinner and it’s definitely kid-friendly.
6. Jazz up that boring salad. Tired of the same-old spinach and kale? In addition to the wealth of nutrients they offer, avocados make food more colorful and engaging, helping you meet your recommended daily servings of fruits and veggies. You can spruce up any salad just by adding some sliced or chopped avocado. Create your own salad (or even salad dressing), or for a little inspiration, check out these avocado salad tips.
7. These avocado brownies aren’t just for kids. Plus, they’re egg-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, and therefore, guilt-free. Seriously, these dark chocolate avocado brownies are some of the best brownies you’ll ever taste.
8. Soup’s on. Fans of gazpacho and cold soups should consider trying this zucchini and avocado soup with cucumber salsa. Great for a healthy appetizer, this soup has a smooth texture, a refreshing taste and just the right amount of spice.
9. Chocolate mousse. (Yes, you read that right.) It’s a snap to make, too. Just combine:
- 1 very ripe avocado
- 6 ounces of melted semisweet chocolate
- 3 tablespoons honey
- a pinch of salt
in a food processor, and blend until smooth. While nobody will be able to identify the secret ingredient, they’re sure to recognize the love at first taste.
10. BLAST (Bacon, Lettuce, Avocado, Salmon and Tomato) Burgers with Sriracha Aioli. Okay, so the acronym doesn’t roll off the tongue quite like BLT, but trust us, you’ll enjoy the wonderful complexity of this burger recipe from Rachael Ray. The avocado makes this brunch, lunch or dinner burger richer and more satisfying.
11. Sculpt the perfect sandwich. If you’re trying to maintain a healthy weight, swapping mayo or cheese with avocado can not only lighten up your sandwich, but also add 20 vitamins and minerals. Using one-fifth of an avocado (either spread on the bread or sliced) versus two tablespoons of mayo or one slice of American cheese will trim out 40 to 50 calories and three to four grams of fat. Try skipping the mayo in chicken salad, and instead, add a very ripe avocado to the mix. Mash the avocado in a large bowl. Add chicken and salt, and mix well. Place mixture on toasted wheat with some crunchy greens.
12. Because it’s still okay to dip. When it comes right down to it, we all still love our dips. Give this lighter and more grown-up version of guacamole a whirl. It’s a sophisticated addition to any celebration or your average Wednesday night.