Avocado - Overview

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Avocado - Superfood
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How about a buttery green fruit that you can spread on a sandwich, dice into a salad, or mash into America's favorite dip? If avocados were only delicious and versatile, they would still be a treat worth serving frequently. Recent research has demonstrated that avocados also offer some surprising and powerful health benefits. One of the most nutrient-dense foods, avocados are high in fiber and, ounce for ounce, top the charts among all fruits for folate. potassium, vitamin E, and magnesium. Indeed, the very impressive health benefits of eating avocados regularly have encouraged me to adopt them as a new SuperFood.

Avocados have been cultivated for thousands of years. A favorite of the Aztecs, they were native to Central America. There are generally two types of avocados available in U.S. markets—the Hass avocado from California and the West Indian avocado from Florida. The green-black Hass avocado was named for Rudolph Hass, a Wisconsin mailman who retired to Pasadena and obtained a patent for the "Hass" avocado tree in 1935. Hass avocados are nutty and buttery and rich in healthy monounsaturated oil—from 18 to 30 percent oil in each avocado. The light green Florida avocado is larger and juicier than the Hass variety, but it is less buttery and considerably lower in oil. The Florida avocado contains just 3 to 5 percent oil and roughly 25 to 50 percent less fat than the Hass variety.

The delicious healthy monounsaturated fat in the avocado is one of its biggest SuperFood health claims. The only other fruit with a comparable amount of monounsaturated fat is the olive. The monounsaturated fat in avocados is oleic acid, which may help lower cholesterol. One study found that after seven days on a diet that included avocados, there were significant decreases in both total and LDL cholesterol as well as an 11 percent increase in the "good" HDL cholesterol. Half a California avocado has a really excellent overall nutrient profile. At 145 calories it contains approximately 2 grams of protein, 6 grams of fiber, and 13 grams of fat, most of which (8.5 grams) is monounsaturated fat.


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