Avocados are brimming with essential nutrients,
including potassium, B-vitamins and folic acid. They also act
as a so-called nutrient booster; when eaten with other foods,
avocados enable the body to better absorb cancer-fighting nutrients,
such as carotenoids, found in vegetables that include spinach
Eating avocados has been shown to lower cholesterol levels and
they are a rich source of monounsaturated fatty acids, including
oleic acid, which offers significant protection against breast
The potassium content in avocados regulates blood pressure and
helps guard against heart disease and strokes, as well as aiding
digestion and helping the body flush out toxins.
The United States is the world's number one commercial
producer of avocados. It is a major cash crop in Southern California
and southern Florida, and to a much lesser degree in Texas. California
has about 80 percent of the United States' market and their avocados
are available twelve months of the year.
The avocado has a unique flavor and texture.
All other tree fruits have either a tart, tart-sweet, or sweet
flavor and a juicy texture. The avocado looks like a huge green
olive and, like the olive, has a single hard pit. It is very firm
when immature and is rich in oil when it reaches full ripeness.
Depending on the variety, the immature fruit
comes in every possible shade of green. Some are smooth and shiny,
others are dull and have pebble-grained skins. Some varieties
retain their original green color as they ripen. In others, as
the fruit ripens the green changes to bronze, reddish purple,
or even jet-black. Some varieties are almost round, but for the
most part avocados are pear- shaped. Hence they are often called
To test for ripeness, cradle the avocado in the
palm of your hand. If it yields to the slightest and gentlest
pressure, it is ready to serve, it is a Florida avocado. If it
is of the California variety, give it an extra day. Too many avocados
are cut and served before they have reached full maturity and
flavor. Once the fruit is cut, the ripening process is terminated.
So make sure that it does have the slight yield before you cut
Avocados are not only flavorful and colorful,
but are also blessed with versatility. They can be sliced, diced,
pureed or served on the half-shell. They are flavorful enough
to serve alone, but also blend well when served with fresh fruit,
salad greens, cottage cheese, cold meats and especially seafood.
A fully ripe avocado has the consistency of soft butter and makes
a delicious and colorful sandwich spread.
A cut avocado, like a sliced peach or banana,
will darken and discolor when exposed to air. Sprinkling the exposed
surfaces with fresh lemon or lime juice will retard this discoloration.
Try to use a cut avocado as soon as possible. In the interim,
cover the exposed surfaces with plastic film. If you cut the avocado
in half, don't remove the pit until ready to serve.
Avocados are tropical fruits and don't like cool
temperatures. Never put a firm avocado in your refrigerator. At
best it won't ripen properly, at worst its flesh will turn black.
A black-skinned avocado is a hallmark of quality.
The California Hass variety is an ugly duckling that has a dull,
pebble-grained green skin when it is immature. As it ripens. the
color of the skin turns to jet-black. This least attractive variety
is by far the finest-flavored avocado available. When you see
this Hass variety, remember that its ugliness is only skin deep.