It’s no secret that I love to eat, and my favorite food of all? Avocados. I’m bananas for them! Avocados are truly one of nature’s little miracle foods, and I encourage you to enjoy them several times a week. These little green gems can do so much to help keep you well from head to toe—they’re simply too good to pass up.

Here are a few thoughts on why you need to get to know them better—and eat them more often:

Relax. Avocados Won’t Make You Fat!

The heyday of food-fat-phobia is over. If you’re still avoiding avocados because of some misguided, leftover-from-the-’80s belief that avocados will make you fat, you’re barking up the wrong tree. You’re also missing out on an excellent source of monounsaturated fat—the good fat also found in olive oil—which helps boost heart health. What’s more, those good-fat and fiber-rich avocados can also help curb hunger. Studies indicate that meals that include avocado tend to increase feelings of satiety for longer than those without, so consider adding a few avocado slices to your daily diet to help tame between-meal munchies.

An Avocado Is a Creamy, Delicious Nutrient Bomb

As with many superfoods, it’s what’s inside that counts, and avocados are a nutritional gold mine. What’s inside? In addition to “good” monounsaturated fat, avocados pack plenty of health-boosting nutrients to help your body thrive. Underneath the tough green exterior lie over 14 minerals; protein, complete, with all 18 essential amino acids; soluble fiber, to trap excess cholesterol and send it out of the system; phytosterols; polyphenols; carotenoids; omega-3s; and B-complex, C, E, and K vitamins, to name a few.

Watch Out, Heart Disease, Alzheimer’s, and Diabetes—Avocados Are Coming for You

OK, so avocados are packed with nutrition, but what does it all mean in practical terms? It means a belly that feels fuller longer; a brain that’s being well-supplied with the nutrients needed to function optimally now and down the road; and a body that’s receiving the nutrition it needs to help protect it from heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and degenerative eye and brain diseases. What’s more, all those nutrients, good fats, and fiber in avocados can help naturally lower LDL and raise your good HDL cholesterol, regulate blood sugar, and tamp down inflammation throughout the body and brain. With benefits like these, it’s easy to see why it’s called a superfood.

Make Space for Avocados on Your Plate

With their distinct fresh green flavor and creamy (dairy-free!) texture, avocados play well with lots of the other foods on your plate. What’s truly remarkable though is that research indicates that avocados can help with the absorption of carotenoids, the compounds found in orange and red fruits and veggies that can help protect against cancer. So while they may seem a bit indulgent, avocados could turn out to be lifesavers.

Here are a few ways to dig in:

  • Add a quarter of an “avo” to your morning shake.
  • Enjoy an avocado half as a nutritious side dish with your morning eggs instead of potatoes or toast.
  • Spread a few avo slices on toasted paleo bread for a quick pre-workout or midday snack.
  • Add an avo half to your lunchtime salad to keep you full till dinner—and hold the mayo!
  • Add as a delicious mix-in for quinoa, beans, or wild rice.
  • Top hot or cold soups with chunks of avo to add fiber and supersize the nutrients in your bowl.
  • Blend with lemon juice, water, vinegar, and spices and whip into a nutritious creamy salad dressing, or blend in a touch more liquid and drizzle the zesty sauce over chicken and fish dishes.
  • Top burgers, egg dishes, chicken, or fish with avo slices, or mash into guacamole.
  • Blend up your own super-nutritious homemade baby food by combining avocado with fruits and veggies to get little ones off to a healthy start.

Treat Them Right—and They’ll Return the Favor

At times it can be tricky to find an avocado that’s ready to eat with tonight’s dinner, so a little advance planning is necessary. True avo aficionados recommend buying a few firm ones at a time and then strategically staggering the ripening process so the avocados are ready when you are—and don’t all turn ripe at the same moment. To expedite ripening, AvocadoCentral.com suggests sealing one or two avocados into a brown paper bag, along with an apple or banana. Over the course of two to three days, the brown-bagged fruit will release gases, which will aid the ripening process. Remove the ripe and ready-to-eat avo, replace with a firm unripe one, reseal the bag, and repeat!

Bonus Tips:

  • Buying avocados? The good news is that conventionally grown avos make the Environmental Working Group’s Clean 15 List, meaning they’re relatively free of pesticides and are OK to eat as an alternative to organic versions.
  • Oops! Cut into your avocado before it’s fully ripened? Spritz the exposed fruit with lemon juice, cover or wrap tightly, and let it ripen in the fridge for a day or two. If that’s not enough, salvage the fruit, cut into chunks, and add to your next smoothie.
  • How you cut and peel your avo matters more than you might think. To do it right, wash the outer skin and pat dry. Cut in half lengthwise. Pop out the seed with a spoon or tap a knife across the top of the seed to slightly embed it and twist (but be careful not to hit your fingers). Instead of scooping out the fruit, peel skin off gently with your fingers to get the maximum nutritional bang for your buck. Turns out, the dark green fruit closest to the skin is the most nutritious.
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