Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Cooking and Produce
Enjoy health benefits of avocados on National Guacamole Day
Melissa Bess, former Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, Camden County, University of Missouri Extension
September 16 is known as National Guacamole Day. Guacamole can be healthy, depending on how you make it. Avocados are the main ingredient in this tasty side dish or appetizer.
California avocados are in season from spring to fall, which means they will be easier to find, better quality and more affordable during that time. Avocados are one of the produce items with the least amount of pesticides, so there is no reason or benefit to buying organic avocados.
Avocados are considered a fruit. They are one of the few fruits or vegetables that contain fat. The fat in avocados is unsaturated and is heart healthy.
Did you know that avocados have 60 percent more potassium per ounce than bananas? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, avocados are loaded with nutrients such as dietary fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, potassium, magnesium and folate. They’re also cholesterol and sodium free. Two tablespoons of mashed avocado or 1/5 (about 1 ounce) of a medium avocado provides about 55 calories.
To choose an avocado, squeeze it gently. It should be firm but give to slight pressure. Hard avocados are not ripe yet, but can ripen in a few days. Place the unripe avocado in a brown paper bag for two to five days. Apples or bananas can be added to the bag to shorten the process because the gas they give off helps ripen the avocados. Ripe avocados can be stored in the refrigerator for two to three days.
Always wash avocados before eating. Cut lengthwise and rotate the halves to separate. Use a spoon to remove the seed and scoop out the meat or peel the skin away from the fruit. Lemon juice, lime juice or white vinegar can help prevent discoloring. You can also press plastic wrap directly on the surface and then wrap to store in the refrigerator for a few days. If the surface turns brown, just cut off the top layer and throw it away, the rest is OK to eat.
Avocados can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Mashed avocado can be used instead of mayonnaise on a sandwich or wrap. You can mix avocado with your choice of whole grains and other vegetables for a tasty whole grain salad. Avocados can also be mixed with tomatoes, diced onions, lime or lemon juice, and your choice of seasonings for a refreshing guacamole dip.
Guacamole from a restaurant may or may not be healthy, depending on the ingredients used. When you make it at home, you control the ingredients and know exactly what was used to make it.
Healthy guacamole recipe
- 2-3 avocados
- 1 medium tomato
- 1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice
- Salt or garlic salt (optional)
- Cilantro (optional)
Wash avocados and tomato. Dice tomato and mix with mashed avocado. Add juice, salt and cilantro. If storing, press plastic wrap directly on the surface of the guacamole to prevent air from turning it brown. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
This article was adapted from a blog post written by Melissa Bess: http://muextensionwellness.blogspot.com/2012/09/september-16-is-known-as-guacamole-day.html
Last update: Tuesday, September 13, 2016