It’s no secret that Californians love avocados. Although most of the world’s avocados are grown in Mexico, there are two annual festivals to the fruit in the Golden State, one in
Carpinteria and one in
Fallbrook. San Diego County is the capital of California avocados,
producing 60 percent of the total crop annually. This love is not unique to California, though, as an estimated
1.9 billion (yes, that’s billion) pounds were consumed in the United States in 2014.
Despite its popularity, the avocado is an oddity. For starters, although often treated like a vegetable,
it’s a fruit from the laurel family of flowering plants. Unlike many fruits, avocados are best if picked
before they ripen on the tree. And much like the tomato, avocados are often found in savory dishes - from burgers to omelets to that ultimate burrito condiment and Super Bowl party staple, guacamole. Probably the strangest thing about the avocado is that by all rights
avocados should be extinct.
Luckily, the avocado
has survived and we continue to reap nutritional benefits from this little green fruit. Avocados are high in potassium, folate and other B vitamins, fiber and are a great source of
omega 3 fatty acids. They are also rich in lutein, an anti-oxidant important for
eye health and in some clinical trials, avocados have been shown to
lower LDL, or “bad” cholesterol.
Thanks to its mild, buttery flavor, the avocado is easily adaptable. Add it to your favorite salad, toss it in a smoothie or for a healthier sandwich, you can substitute
mashed avocado for mayonnaise.
Here are some other fun ways to incorporate this hulk of a green fruit into a healthy diet.
Zucchini and Avocado Soup with Cucumber Salsa (courtesy of MyRecipes.com): As the weather heats up, having this cool soup in your arsenal will help satisfy your hunger without heating up your kitchen. Needs to chill for at least two hours so it’s a perfect make-ahead dish.
Spaghetti with Spinach-Avocado Sauce (courtesy of
Cooking Light): A fun twist on a classic pesto, avocado adds a creamy texture and cannellini beans add protein, a plus if you’re looking to limit meat in your diet.
Dark Chocolate Mousse (courtesy of the
Healthy Eating Program at Moores Cancer Center): Yes, really – avocado is a fruit, after all, and its buttery flavor and texture lends itself to this decadent dessert. Plus, you can stump your guest with a fun game of guess the secret ingredient.
To learn more about the featured medical specialties, please visit:
Healthy Eating Program