In this avocado 101 guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about my favorite fruit, the avocado. That’s right, avocados are actually a pear-shaped berry, not a vegetable. Avocados are a delicious, nutritious fruit that is loaded with vitamins, minerals and healthy fats.
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No need to be afraid of the fat in avocados! Avocados contain monounsaturated fat, which is some of the healthiest fat you can eat. As a matter of fact, here is what the American Heart Association has to say about monounsaturated fats:
“[They] help reduce bad cholesterol levels in your blood and lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. They also provide nutrients to help develop and maintain your body’s cells. Monounsaturated fats are also typically high in vitamin E, an antioxidant vitamin most Americans need more of.”
Rich in vitamins A, E + K, which are all fat-soluble, avocados also have vitamins B, C, and trace minerals including magnesium and potassium (both known to help reduce blood pressure). And just to give you a measurable mental picture, one avocado has 2x the amount of potassium as one banana.
They also have more protein and less sugar than any other fruit on the market and they are loaded with antioxidants and inflammatory qualities.
Benefits of Avocados
There are many health benefits to consuming avocados. Avocados are very nutritious and contain 20 different vitamins and minerals. They are also high in healthy fats, low in carbohydrates, and high in fiber.
From a dietary standpoint, you want to think of avocados as fat. In other words, if you are trying to add more fruit to your diet, I wouldn’t suggest eating more avocados, but if you are trying to add more healthy fats to your diet, avocados are your best friend.
Here are just a few of the many advantages of including avocados in your diet:
- Heart-healthy – Studies have shown that frequently eating avocado can improve heart disease risk factors like total, “bad” LDL and “good” HDL cholesterol, as well as blood triglycerides.
- Weight management – Avocados contain a good amount of fiber, which can make you feel satisfied after eating. You’ll be less likely to snack on empty calories later.
- Healthy fats – Avocados don’t just contain any fat. The majority of the fat in avocado is oleic acid, which is a monounsaturated fatty acid, that has been associated with reduced inflammation and shown to have beneficial effects on genes linked to cancer.
- Aid in the absorption of vitamins and minerals – Some nutrients (Vitamins A, D, E and K, antioxidants like carotenoids) need to be combined with fat in order to be absorbed in the body. Studies have shown that eating avocado or avocado oil with vegetables can greatly increase the amount of nutrients your body uses.
Types of Avocados
Technically, there are hundreds of different avocado varieties out there, but here in the United States there are notably just two; California avocados (aka HAAS) and Florida avocados.
The Florida avocados have smooth green skin and tend to be larger than the California avocados. They also have less fat so they are not as rich and creamy as the Haas, but because of this they also hold their shape a bit better and work really well in a recipe where you would want the avocado to maintain its integrity (like in a salad).
Haas avocados, on the other hand, have dark green or black pebbly skin, and the flesh is richer and creamier. This is the kind of avocado that makes amazing guacamole, and for me, when I think of an avocado, this is what I imagine; rich, buttery, creamy deliciousness.
How to Choose an Avocado
When you are shopping for avocados, you want to avoid avocados with sunken in dark spots or cracks. More times than not, they will still be hard, which is fine, because they will continue to ripen once you get them home.
You will know you have a perfectly ripe avocado by using this little trick: Hold the avocado in your palm and press very gently against its surface using your thumb. A ripe avocado will yield to gentle pressure, without feeling squishy.
You can also lift up the nubby stem at the end of the avocado to take a peek at the color – if it’s a bright vibrant green, you’ve got a good one, if it looks brown under there – leave it at the store. But either way, pop that stem area back on when you’re done checking.
How to Store Avocado
Once you have your avocados home, leave them on the counter in a cool dry place until you are ready to use them.
A hard avocado will usually ripen within a few days. If they ripen before you are ready, you can put them in the fridge to slow down the ripening process. On the flip side, if you need them to ripen faster, you can pop them in a paper bag and leave them on the counter to speed things up.
Once your avocado is cut it will begin to oxidize (aka turn brown) quickly. The best way to avoid this is to squeeze some type of citrus juice over the flesh, this will help to slow down the oxidation process.
If you need to store an avocado that has already been cut, cover the surface with some lemon or lime juice and place it in an airtight container in the fridge. You may still have a bit of oxidation but I have found this to be the best option for storing the unused portion of the avocado.
When is avocado bad?
Oxidation is a chemical reaction and not a sign of spoiled avocado. Compounds in the flesh are reacting with oxygen, with the help of enzymes, to produce brown pigments called melanin. The brown part of avocado might look unappetizing and can taste bitter, but it’s still safe to eat.
The more an avocado has become brown and mushy, the more likely it will be rancid or moldy. Avoid avocados that are overly soft with a dented outer skin and those that are darker yellow or brownish on the inside.
Can you freeze avocados?
Avocados actually freeze very well. You can use frozen avocado to add extra nutrition and creaminess to smoothies, and you can thaw them to make guacamole.
Before freezing, to reduce browning, brush a small amount of lemon or lime juice or vinegar onto the flesh.
Place the peeled avocado in a freezer-safe airtight container or baggie. To thaw frozen avocado, transfer to the fridge to thaw for about 8 hours.
The avocado will brown as it thaws, but when you mash it, you’ll see that it is still mostly green.
Thawed frozen avocados work best in recipes like guacamole, brownies, or pudding.
How to Cut an Avocado
Cutting, peeling, and seeding an avocado is very simple. Grab a knife and cut the avocado in half lengthwise. When you cut into the avocado, you will feel the pit. You can use the pit (seed) as your guide as you go around the avocado with the knife.
Once you’ve cut all the way around the avocado, simply twist and separate. One half of the avocado will have the pit in it and the other won’t.
To remove the pit you have two choices; you can carefully tap the sharp edge of your knife into the pit, twist, and remove OR you can give your avocado a little squish and the pit should pop right out.
Then, you can either peel the skin off or scoop out the flesh with a spoon.
Now, you are ready to slice, dice, or mash your avocado. And don’t forget the option to leave the avocado in its skin, sprinkle the flesh with salt, and enjoy with a spoon.
How to Substitute with Avocado
Did you know you can use avocado in your baking? You can substitute avocado for butter in a 1:1 ratio. However, it doesn’t melt like butter, so you may need to use more wet ingredients in the recipe. For best results, I like to just substitute avocados for half of the butter instead of all of it.
Not only is avocado a great substitute for butter, but you can also replace 1/2 cup of oil with 1 avocado.
If you love avocado as much as I do, you’ll love these recipe options for delicious ways to use this amazing fruit.
Avocado Recipes for Breakfast
- Vanilla Refresher Protein Smoothie
- Avocado Toast
- Breakfast Tacos
- Egg and Avocado Breakfast Sandwich
- Breakfast Salad with Egg, Avocado and Spinach
- Avocado Banana Muffins
Salads with Avocado
Entrees with Avocado
Use sliced or chopped avocado as a topping to any of these delicious dishes!
- Easy Black Bean Soup
- Black Bean Mango Avocado Pita Pockets
- Turkey Tacos
- Shrimp Tacos
- Fish Tacos
- Chili Con Carne
Do you love avocados as much as I do? What are some of your favorite ways to enjoy them?
- 1 medium avocado