Updated: Jul 28, 2020
Avocados are the fruit (due to the presence of the middle pit or seed) from Persea americana, a tall evergreen tree. They vary in weight from 8 ounces to 3 pounds depending upon the variety. 95% of all avocados grown in the US are produced in California.
Don't be fooled by avocado's bad rap as a high-fat food (between 71 to 88% of their total calories—about 20 times the average for other fruits). Avocados can provide us with unique health benefits precisely because of its unusual fat composition. Due to the presence of the fat in avocados, the absorption of the fat soluble carotenoids (lycopene and beta-carotene) which are found in sweet potatoes, carrots and leafy greens is increased significantly.
Avocados contain an amazing array of phytonutrients. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA- an omega-3 fatty acid) and oleic acid (a monounsaturated fatty acid) are key fats provided by avocado. Avocados are a good source of pantothenic acid, dietary fiber, vitamin K, copper, folate, vitamin B6, potassium, vitamin E, and vitamin C.
Anti-inflammatory benefits- Due to the amazing carotenoid diversity, other antioxidants and the fat composition (omega-3 fatty acids).
Supports Cardiovascular Health- Research on avocado and heart disease is in the preliminary stage yet it appears that blood fat levels, inflammatory risk in the cardiovascular system and risk of metabolic syndrome is reduced.
Anti-cancer benefits- Due to a mix of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrients.
Selection and Storage:
A ripe, ready-to-eat avocado is slightly soft but should have no dark sunken spots or cracks. A firm avocado will ripen in a paper bag or in a fruit basket at room temperature within a few days. As the fruit ripens, the skin will turn darker. Avocados should not be refrigerated until they are ripe. Once ripe, they can be kept refrigerated for up to a week. If you are refrigerating a whole avocado, it is best to keep it whole and not slice it in order to avoid browning that occurs when the flesh is exposed to air.
Avocados and Latex Allergy- Like bananas, kiwifruit and chestnuts, avocados contain enzymes that are associated with the latex-fruit allergy syndrome.
The Clean Fifteen- The Environmental Working Group's, 2019 Shoppers Guide to pesticides in produce (clean 15 list) provides a list of produce least likely to hold pesticide residues on them. Avocados were the cleanest with only 1% of avocado samples showing any detectable pesticides.