Beyond the Guac
With its arsenal of 20 vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, avocados can fuel your raining and performance.
If the only time avocados make it onto your plate is when you’re digging into a big basket of tortilla chips and guacamole at your favorite Mexican restaurant, you’re missing out on many tasty and healthy uses of this versatile, nutrient dense food star.
The avocado is technically a fruit, although it’s most often utilized and thought of in a more vegetable-like manner. To add another twist to its label, in the world of nutritional science, when you get down to servings and grams of macronutrients, it’s actually counted as a fat. So, meet the avocado, a superfood suffering from a serious identity crisis. However, avocados have a tough skin (literally), and there’s one thing about it that’s quite straightforward—the value of its superior nutrient profile.
Along with being naturally sodium- and cholesterol-free, avocados contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. Some of its other nutritional highlights include its contribution of potassium, magnesium, folate, vitamin K, vitamin E, vitamin C, vitamin B6, lutein, and beta-sitosterol. While avocados contain more fat than other fruits, the majority (more than 75%) comes from healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
This sneaky fruit hiding in a veggie suit not only contributes many health benefits on its own, but it also acts as a nutrient booster, with its ability to help your body absorb more fat-soluble nutrients (including lutein and beta-carotene) when consumed together. When eating lutein rich foods, such as spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, and broccoli, as well as beta-carotene stars like sweet potatoes and carrots, adding avocado to the meal can help optimize nutrient absorption.
You’ll typically find two types of avocados at your local grocery store—California and Florida. The most common when it comes to availability and use is the Hass avocado (California). The Hass variety is usually small to medium in size and sports green to black skin with a pebbled appearance. Florida avocados tend to be larger than California varieties, with very smooth green skin. Florida avocados may also be labeled “lite,” as ounce-for-ounce, they do contain less fat and calories versus the Cali variety. Most people would agree, however, that the Florida varieties will lack much of the rich, buttery, nutty flavor and creaminess of the Hass.
Ideas for using avocado in your meals and snacks can stretch far beyond the millions of pounds of guacamole we consume over festive occasions like Super Bowl Sunday and Cinco de Mayo. Eating it straight out of Mother Nature’s bowl (its skin) as a quick snack is certainly enjoying it in its most natural, clean (and easy) form. At breakfast, scoop out the fl esh, mash with a fork, and spread over sprouted-grain toast instead of butter, or chop it and toss over your scrambled eggs. It can also be used sliced or mashed as a topping on whole-grain crackers, in place of mayonnaise on sandwiches, and as a smooth substitute for cheese in wraps. Purists will mash it and eat it without any added seasonings, but if you need a little kick, the addition of simple sea salt and black pepper, fresh cilantro, diced tomato, and a hint of fresh lime juice will give your taste buds something to be happy about. Other ways to enjoy this super fruit include adding it to protein smoothies for a potassium boost.
Shake It Up!
Blend the ingredients below for a smoothie recipe that’s a favorite of FIGHT!’s managing editor Jim Casey.
• ¼ avocado
• 1 banana
• ¼ scoop MRI Pro-NOS French Vanilla Whey Isolate
• 1 cup almond milk