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It Isn't Easy Being Green! Nutritional Benefits of Avocados

“Oh my goodness, this is good! What’s in it?”

“A little of this, a little of that, and a little of my special ingredient; Avocado!”

Yes, avocado. If you have neglected eating avocados for fear of the fat content or because you don’t know what to do with it, it is time to put those fears aside.

This pear-shaped fruit is as delicious, as it is nutritious and it is time that you gave it a try.

WHAT IS AN AVOCADO?
Avocados have been cultivated in Central and South America since around 8000 BC. This powerful fruit had to wait a long time to get discovered by the rest of the world, but in the mid-17th century evidence suggests that avocados began to travel, first to Jamaica, then Europe and beyond. Nowadays, avocados can been found the world over, but the tropical and subtropical climates of Southern US and Mexico provide the bulk of the world’s cultivation. Not generally able to tolerate freezing temperatures, the only other place you will find avocado trees in cooler climates is indoors, as the pits are quite easy to be grown as house plants. If you try your hand at growing your own avocado tree, just be aware that the pit, skin, bark and leaves are all toxic to animals, so keep your plant out of reach of your cat and dogs.

With a wide variety of cultivars available, the most common is the Hass avocado, with its dark, rippled skin, which accounts for almost 80 percent of the market. The green-skinned “Fuerte”, “Bacon”, “Gwen” and “Zutano” are a few of the other more common varieties. The tall evergreen trees tend to be biennial, and depending on growing conditions, produce fruit every other year. If temperatures are too cool or windy, production is reduced. Usually a poor growing year is followed by an abundance the year after though.

AVOCADO NUTRITION AND BENEFITS:
While it is well-documented that avocados are high in fat, what is less commonly known is that the nature of this monounsaturated fat makes it quite desirable. Its high fat content makes it a good alternative  for vegetarian diets, or those with less access to high fatty meat or fish sources. The fat in avocados has anti-inflammatory properties, as well as the ability to help lower the risk of heart disease. On top of that, add in that they are a rich source of potassium, dietary fiber, carotenoids, B vitamins, vitamin E and vitamin K, how could you not want to eat them?

Aside from the obvious benefits noted above, there is also evidence to suggest that avocados can promote well being in other ways. Adding avocados into your diet improves heart health, helps to regulate blood sugars,  acts as an anti-inflammatory agent and even has been shown to help in the prevention of certain cancers. Pretty impressive from this creamy green fruit.

HOW TO BUY AN AVOCADO:
Now that you are sold on the benefits of avocados, before you rush out to buy a bushel of them, take a moment to figure out how to buy the perfect one. Avocados are picked from the tree when they are in a mature state, but not quite ripened. Similar to bananas, they ripen rather quickly and are at their peak for a short time before browning, so it is important to know how to pick one at the grocery store.

If you are looking for an avocado to use immediately, select one that is firm, but gives slightly when squeezed. If it is too soft, it is susceptible to bruising, and likely to be brown already.

If you know that you will be using your avocado later in the week, pick one hard when you squeeze it. It will not getting bruised in transition, and will still ripen nicely within a few days at room temperature. Do note though, that if you store it close to bananas, avocados will ripen faster due to the ethylene gas that is produced by bananas as they ripen.

HOW TO STORE AN AVOCADO:
Avocados are relatively easy to store. As noted above, if it is purchased still in its firm state, leave the fruit at room temperature to ripen. Once it is ripe, it can be stored in the fridge. It is best to leave it in one piece until it is ready to be used, as it oxidizes quite quickly when cut into. If you are only using half and need to store the remainder of your avocado, leave the pit in the remaining half and sprinkle it with vinegar or lemon juice to prevent it darkening, then wrap it and put it in the fridge.

We, at Premier Fitness Camp, are a weight loss retreat that is committed to your health from all angles, especially in what you eat and your nutrition. We want you to eat foods that have a high food value content and high impact on your life. We include teaching you how to shop, cook, and prepare meals as part of your journey to living a better life. Give these avocado recipes a try and you will be amazed at the fantastic taste of this green power-packed food!

AVOCADO RECIPE – GUACAMOLE DIP:

Ingredients:

  • 3 avocados – peeled, pitted, and mashed
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 roma (plum) tomatoes, diced
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 pinch ground cayenne pepper (optional)
Directions:
In a medium bowl, mash together the avocados, lime juice, and salt. Mix in onion, cilantro, tomatoes, and garlic. Stir in cayenne pepper. Refrigerate 1 hour for best flavor, or serve immediately.

AVOCADO RECIPE – AVOCADO SALAD:

Ingredients:

  • 2 small avocados
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup carrot, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup cucumber, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup tomato, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 10 whole Spanish olives, finely chopped
  • 1 lime, juice of
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • pepper
  • tabasco sauce
  • cilantro, for garnish

Directions:

  1. Cut the avocados in half (carefully, if you want to use the shells to serve the salad). Scoop out the insides and chop finely.
  2. Combine all of the chopped vegetables with the olives, and season with lime juice, salt, pepper and tabasco to taste.
  3. Add the avocado and stir carefully, trying not to mash the avocado.
  4. Heap the salad into the avocado shells and serve. Garnish with cilantro if desired.

AVOCADO RECIPE – AVOCADO PINEAPPLE SMOOTHIE:

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium ripe avocado, peeled, pitted
  • 1 ½ cups chopped fresh pineapple
  • 1 ½ cups fresh orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey, optional
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • ¼ teaspoon coconut flavoring, optional
  • 2 ice cubes

Preparation Instructions:

Combine avocado, pineapple, and juice in a blender; puree until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until smooth. Serve immediately.

SOURCES:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avocado
http://www.avocadorecipes.net
http://www.avocadofruit.com
http://www.whfoods.com

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