Heart Healthy Avocados

Written by: Beth Blessing

The avocado is a fatty fruit that is native to Central America, originating in the state of Puebla, Mexico. Ancient Central and South American cultures were known to use avocados that had grown wild. Cultivation of avocado trees began a few thousand years ago with their appearance in other parts of the world beginning only 500 years ago. Avocados grow on an evergreen tree from the Lauraceae family, and are related to cinnamon and bay laurel. They have grown in popularity for their unique appearance, taste, and health benefits.

Avocados are a super food that is very nutritious and energizing. They have a high fat content between 71 to 88% of their total calories—about 20 times the average for other fruits. A typical avocado contains 30 grams of fat, with 20 of these fat grams coming from heart healthy monounsaturated fat, especially oleic acid. This is the same fat found in olives and olive oil and found abundant in the heart healthy Mediterranean diet. Avocados are also an excellent source of potassium and folate, and a good source of vitamin B6. They also contain magnesium, pantothenic acid, vitamin C, copper, niacin, iron, vitamin A, and zinc.

Avocados contain phytosterols, including beta-sitosterol, campesterol, and stigmasterol. This special group of fats have been shown to provide important anti-inflammatory benefits to our body systems, including the cardiovascular system. They also help improve blood cholesterol profiles, therefore reducing the risk of heart disease.

The avocado is most commonly eaten raw, mixed into desserts or smoothies, or in the form of salads. They go well in sandwiches, and can be added to hot or cold soups. Avocados are excellent stuffed with chicken or seafood salad, or simply cut in half and topped with vinegar or lemon juice and salt and pepper. The most popular use of avocados in many Western countries is in the form of guacamole.

With the big game just around the corner, and our obsession with guacamole, avocados are a hot commodity this time of year. Record volumes of avocados are expected to sell for this year’s game. It is anticipated that 120 million pounds of avocados are expected to ship in the United States in the run-up. This will be a 21% increase from last year!

Try these recipes out with the avocados in your bin:

Game Day Guacamole

Mango, Avocado and Black Bean Salad

Chopped Ranch Cobb Salad

Avocado Stuffed with Tuna Salad