(NaturalNews) Avocados have a creamy texture and add a delicate, rich flavor to many dishes. This fruit was once cast aside because of its high fat content, yet recently it has made a comeback as one of the most nutrient-dense fruits available. Nicknamed the "butter pear," avocados are extremely versatile: they can be mashed, sliced, diced, scooped, or eaten right out of the skin.
There are literally hundreds of varieties of avocados, with Hass being the most popular in America. Derived from the Aztec word "ahuacati," avocados contain a multitude of vitamins, active enzymes, pure minerals, and soluble fiber. Plus, they rank as the most easily digestible source of fats and proteins in whole food form.
Although avocados contain a high amount of fat, not all fats are created equal! This nourishing macronutrient is full of the beneficial kind - raw, plant-based, and unprocessed. The body needs health-supportive fats for optimal brain and cell function and, contrary to popular belief, eating a balanced portion of healthy fat will not make you fat. Since avocados are full of the health-promoting monounsaturated fats that provide slow-burning digestible fuel, they can help keep one satiated and even aid in keeping weight at an optimum level by boosting the metabolism. Healthy fats actually help metabolize carbohydrates, can assist in supporting the reduction of unhealthy high cholesterol, and control insulin levels for both low and high blood sugar.
Many don't realize that this easily digestible food actually contains the highest amount of protein of any fruit by providing all of the18 essential amino acids. Portion to edible portion, this yellow-green fleshed fruit contains more protein than cow's milk.
Avocados are brimming with a multitude of necessary vitamins including vitamins A, B6, niacin, C, K, and folate, and they have a full range of minerals and other trace elements including magnesium, iron, copper, and calcium - all of which boost brainpower and support the immune system. Avocados contain a higher percentage of potassium than a medium-sized banana and are rich in lutein, which supports eye health. Recent research from the University of Ohio shows that eating avocados with other fruits and vegetables increases the absorption of phytochemicals by a considerable amount.
This wholesome fruit, sometimes referred to as an "alligator pear," packs a powerful punch with a whopping 5 grams of fiber per 3-ounce serving. Many have claimed that if there was only one thing you could do to improve your overall health, it would be to eat an avocado every day.
Substitute mashed avocados for butter or mayo, or add slices and chunks to a salad. As well as being the perfect baby food, athletes have sworn by substituting a few bites of this wholesome food instead of having a protein bar.
The avocado's sugar content decreases as it matures, as opposed to other fruits that manifest an increase as they mature. Eating even a small amount of an avocado throughout the day will provide stabilizing effects, aiding in the balance of blood sugar levels.
Tree-ripened fruit contains a higher concentration of nutrients, so when you find a ripe avocado, don't pass it by! Since we may not always have that choice, a firm avocado can ripen in a paper bag within a few days. Refrigerate only after it has softened.
If you decide to plant your own avocado tree, be aware you'll have to wait two to three years for it to bear fruit. On the plus side, after the wait you'll have avocados for the entire neighborhood, with each tree producing between 150 - 500 avocados per year!
Heidi Fagley is a Holistic Nutritionist and has two culinary arts degrees - one in Raw, Living Foods and another in Natural Foods. Educating others about nutrition and the benefits of using whole foods to heal and prevent disease is her passion.