I loooooove avocado. Seriously. I could eat them every single day. I like them with eggs, on salads, blended into dressing, on toast, as guacamole or in my smoothies. (Sorry! Bubba Gump moment) I could go on and on, but you get the idea. The taste, texture, and versatility alone put them at the top of my list, but they are also a really healthy food. Hopefully, you already love them too, but if not, maybe you'll give them a second look after this post.
Today I'm going to share with you some of my tips and tricks to buying, cutting, storing and eating ALL THE AVOCADOS so you can enjoy them as much and as frequently as I do. But first, let's talk about why they are so nourishing.
Health benefits of avocado
Avocados are a nutrient-dense food high in many nutrients such as:
pantothenic acid (vitamin B5)
They are touted to be the "good kind of fat" aka monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). (People typically say that because they believe saturated fat (SFAs) is "bad". Not in my world! Saturated fat has great health benefits and needs to be vindicated, but that's a topic for another post...or maybe two because the defense argument is strong.) MUFAs are very stable fats and are less likely to become oxidized when heated, which is damaging to the body. MUFAs are anti-inflammatory, increase insulin sensitivity and can help protect against metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease.
Avocados also contain carotenoids, a type of antioxidant found in plant foods that helps fight cellular damage. Carotenoids are fat-soluble nutrients, which means that they are better absorbed when consumed with fat. This makes avocados unique because they are perfectly packaged with MUFAs to ensure the carotenoids are being absorbed. Other plant foods such as squash, sweet potatoes and carrots also contain carotenoids, but they contain very little fat and should be paired with fat to absorb the carotenoids. Antioxidants are critical to lowering inflammation, slowing the aging process and disease prevention. In addition to carotenoids, avocados are a great source of vitamin C and vitamin E, both powerful antioxidants.
The B vitamins in avocados help support energy metabolism, brain and nervous system health, hormone synthesis and liver detoxification while vitamin K1 is important for bone health and blood clotting.
The fiber not only supports digestion, but it also helps balance cholesterol, stabilizes blood sugar and feeds the beneficial bacteria in your gut. Also, the fiber and MUFAs contained in avocados team up to help you feel full and satiated, preventing overeating, which will supports healthy weight.
I told you these little gems are packed full of goodness!
organic vs nonorganic
I'm a huge proponent of buying organic produce for the Dirty Dozen, a list of 12 conventionally grown foods that contain the highest amount of pesticides. This list is published by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) every year and I always buy these foods organic. The EWG also publishes a Clean Fifteen list each year for the conventionally grown foods that have the least amount of pesticide residue. Using these lists as a guide when you're shopping for produce is a great way to limit toxic exposure without breaking the bank. You can learn more about how they compile the list and why it's important to avoid pesticides here.
Avocado is #1 on the Clean Fifteen list for 2018 and the EWG reports that less than one percent of conventional avocados tested positive for pesticides. So I feel comfortable buying conventional avocados.
How to choose the perfect avocado
I used to be so frustrated when I would cut into my avocado and it was rotten or I took a bite and there was zero flavor because it wasn't ripe. Now, I rarely get a dud with this method.
If you want to buy a perfectly ripe avocado you will want one with a darker skin that has dulled and has a little 'give' when you squeeze it gently. Handle with care because they bruise easily. Inspect it all the way around (not just visually, but mostly with your hands) to ensure you don't have any bruising.
Once you find one to your liking, you should also remove the stem to ensure it's green underneath (see the picture on the right) and not brown. The stem should release easily. If not, it's most likely not ripe. If it's brown underneath instead of green, it means it's overripe.
I personally like to choose 1 or 2 ripe avocados which I store in the refrigerator (to slow the ripening) once I bring them home and 1 or 2 unripe avocados which I store on the counter until they ripen. This way I can enjoy them all week long.
The unripe avocados will be more green and shiny on the outside and little to no give when you squeeze them. I do not remove the stem on the unripe avocados. Again, if you try to remove it and it doesn't release easily it's likely not ripe.
How to cut an avocado
Now that you have these little beauties home, let's get eatin'! You do not want to peel the skin with a knife. In fact, the majority of the phytonutrients are concentrated in the darker portion of the pulp near the skin, so you want to use this method to ensure you are getting the most nutrients from your avocados.
You want to slice the avocado in half, vertically, moving the knife around the pit until the entire length has been cut on both sides. Next, twist each side in opposite directions while pulling the two halves apart.
To remove the pit, give it a careful, but deliberate 'whack' with a sharp knife and then twist it until the pit loosens and separates from the avocado. Carefully remove the pit from the knife and discard.
Depending on how you plan to use the avocado, you can leave it whole and scoop it out as is or slice/dice it right in the skin. If you prefer to remove it whole, you just need to scoop it out with a spoon. Running the spoon along the skin until it's completely loosened from the skin. To slice or dice, simply run your knife through the avocado without piercing the skin, then scoop out with a spoon. Remember to keep your spoon close to the skin so you get all of the dark pulp.
Storing your cut avocado
If you are eating only half of the avocado, you want to leave the pit inside the half you will store in the refrigerator with skin intact. There are many theories on how to store your cut avocado to prevent it from browning. I store mine in an air tight container or zip lock in the fruit (not vegetable) crisper. (The fruit crisper is lower humidity.) I typically eat the other half within 24 hours so I don't have any issues. However, if it goes longer and is a little brown on top, I simply scrape off a thin layer with a spoon or knife. If this method doesn't work for you try putting lemon or lime juice on the exposed surfaces, storing in water or another one of the many ideas you can find online.
easy ways to enjoy avocado
#1 - Straight Up
I prefer to drizzle a little olive oil on mine, sprinkle with sea salt and dig right in with a spoon. No need to even remove it from the skin and dirty another dish. Makes an easy, delicious snack or side dish.
#2 - Mayonaise Substitution
#3 - Stuffed
There are many recipes for stuffing your avocado both hot and cold. A few ideas are to cook an egg inside the hollowed pit to make Avocado Egg Boats or to stuff with a caprese salad or tuna salad. The ideas are endless. Check out my Pinterest boards for more ideas!
Want more great recipes for your avocado?
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If you've tried avocado in the past and didn't like it, try them prepared a different way. Pinterest can show you a million and one ways to enjoy avocado. If you still don't like them...don't eat them! There are many other ways to get these nutrients and there's no reason to eat food that you don't enjoy.
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