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Avocado: The Misunderstood Fruit

June 25, 2006 05:38 AM 1
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Join Date: June 6, 2006
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Post Date: January 1, 1970
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Avocado: The Misunderstood Fruit

With all the HR stuff you do in office it is also important  that you focus on your health and the health of your employees. Helathy eating is a good place to start. So here is some news about the famous fruit we call AVOCADO.

The nutrient-packed avocado, while often dismissed for its high fat content, is making a comeback. Today, millions of Americans enjoy the avocado in a variety of meals.

Avocados do contain fat, but it is mostly the monounsaturated kind—which studies show may increase HDL (the “good”) cholesterol. In addition, avocados contain many vitamins and minerals, and they’re cholesterol free.

The Awesome Avocado
The avocado is believed to have originated in Mexico and Central America thousands of years ago. Its exact ancestry is unknown, but anthropologists have confirmed that both the Incas and Aztecs cultivated and ate the fruit.

Today, hundreds of varieties of avocado exist. Hass avocados, which make up 85% of California's crop volume (California produces 95% of all avocados in the U.S. market), are by far the most popular. Avocados, which in the U.S. are grown only in California and Florida, range in size from a few ounces to several pounds, and have skins which can be anywhere from bright green to black in color, and smooth to pebbly in texture. The California varieties (which include Hass, Fuerte, Bacon, and Zutano) are considerably higher in fat (and thus tend to be creamier and more flavorful). Florida avocados (including the Donnie, Miguel, and Ruehle varieties) are larger than most California varieties; they are more watery than California varieties, and gram for gram, contain less fat (and as a result, are thought to contain less flavor).

Health Benefits

No matter how you slice it, the avocado has plenty of health benefits. Here’s a closer look at some of the nutrients found in avocados.
• Monounsaturated fat: As mentioned, avocados are high in monounsaturated fat, which lowers damaging LDL-cholesterol levels, without affecting the levels of good HDL-cholesterol.
• Fiber: Avocados are high in fiber, particularly soluble fiber, which promotes regularity, regulates the body's use of sugars, and lowers blood cholesterol levels.
• Vitamins: Avocados are a good source of the antioxidant vitamin E (which protects us against harmful free radicals) as well as the B vitamin folate (which is required for the metabolism of DNA and several important amino acids).
• Minerals: gram for gram, avocados provide more potassium than bananas. Potassium is critical for nerve impulse transmission, muscle contraction, and heart function. Avocados also provide a fair amount of magnesium, which your body needs to metabolize carbohydrates and fats.
The table below shows the nutrient content of 100 grams of an avocado from California as compared to an equal amount of an avocado from Florida.
Comparison of 100 grams of California to 100 grams of Florida avocado
Nutrient Avocados from California (100 grams) Avocados from Florida (100 grams)
Calories 167 120
Total fat 15 grams (g) 10 grams (g)
Monounsaturated fat 10 g 6 g
Carbohydrate 9 g 8 g
Protein 2 g 2 g
Dietary fiber 7 g 6 g
Vitamin E 2 milligrams (mg) 3 milligrams (mg)
Vitamin C 9 mg 17 mg
Vitamin A 7 micrograms (µg) 7 micrograms (µg)
Folate 62 µg 35 µg
Potassium 507 mg 351 mg
Magnesium 29 mg 24 mg
Iron 0.6 mg 0.2 mg
Calcium 13 mg 10 mg
Sodium 8 mg 2 mg
Phosphorous 54 mg 40 mg
Because it's not always easy to figure out how many grams are in a fruit, here is a direct comparison of the basic nutrient content of one whole avocado from California to one whole avocado from Florida. Keep in mind that the Florida varieties are much bigger than those from California (and therefore have more total calories and fat) but per serving size, contain fewer calories and fat.

Comparison of one whole California avocado to one whole Florida avocado
Nutrient Avocados from California (1 fruit = 173 grams) Avocados from Florida (1 fruit = 304 grams)
Calories 289 365
Total fat 27 grams (g) 31 grams (g)
Monounsaturated fat 10 g 17 g
Carbohydrate 15 g 24 g
Protein 4 g 7 g
Dietary fiber 12 g 17 g
Note that avocados also contain:
• Lutein, a carotenoid, which is thought to help protect against prostate cancer and eye disease such as cataracts and macular degeneration
• Beta-sitosterol (a plant sterol), which is currently being studied for its ability to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer

Moderation is Key

Although they taste great and are good for you, avocados should be eaten in moderation, as part of a balanced diet. Because of the fat content, avocados are relatively high in calories. The recommended serving size is two tablespoons, or roughly one-fifth of an avocado (which provides about five grams of fat and 55 calories).
How to Choose, Prepare, Store, and Eat Avocados
Selection: When purchasing avocados, look for fruits that are firm, heavy for their size, and bruise-free.
Preparation: Test for ripeness with a gentle squeeze. The fruit is ripe when it yields to gentle pressure but doesn't’t remain dented. A firm avocado will ripen in a few days sitting on a kitchen counter. To shorten the ripening time, put the avocado in a paper bag. Wash it before you eat it.
To cut an avocado, slice it lengthwise around the seed and rotate the halves to separate them. Lift the seed out with a spoon and then peel the fruit with a knife (or your fingers). Or, you can just scoop the fruit out with a spoon and eat it that way.
Storage: Cut avocados will turn brown. To minimize this, squeeze lemon or lime juice on the exposed area. When you next eat the avocado, simply scrape off the brown parts. Store the fruit in the refrigerator for three to four days in Tupperware or covered in plastic wrap.
Uses: The avocado is not used simply to make guacamole (though most would agree that it is delicious that way). Avocados can be a healthy substitute for butter or cream cheese (on bread, toast, bagels or English muffins) and for other commonly used ingredients (e.g., sour cream). Avocados also go well in sushi rolls, soups, salads, and as a side dish. Views expressed by Rabin Brett Parnes