The statistics are staggering when it comes to heart disease, but did you know that many of the risk factors are preventable? Nearly 50% of Americans have at least one key risk factor for heart disease, which includes high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking. (Source: cdc.gov) So let’s introduce the star of this piece: the avocado.
Avocados really are the superheroes of the produce department. They’re jam packed with 20 vitamins and minerals, fiber and potassium. But what really sets them apart is the fact that they’re one of the only fruits that contains monounsaturated fats. These healthful fats can help lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol, which translates into a reduced risk for heart disease and stroke. This healthful fat also contributes to the avocados smooth, creamy texture, and it helps to keep us feeling full and satisfied after meals.
Selection & Storage
To find a ripe avocado, look for one with dark skin that yields to gentle pressure. Sometimes it’s hard to find a perfectly ripe avocado in the store, but if it’s too hard, simply put it in a brown paper bag along with a banana. That’s right, a banana! Bananas give off ethylene gas, which speeds up the ripening process. An apple will also do the trick. Check in each day to see if it’s reached the perfect ripeness and is ready to eat. Another simple technique is to place avocados in sunlight. Warmer temperatures ripen fruits faster, so move those un-ripened avocados to your window sill or another sunny spot. Once ripe, either enjoy the avocado or place it in the refrigerator to slow down the ripening until you are ready to eat.
How To Prep & Enjoy!
The possibilities are endless when it comes to ways to enjoy avocados. First, slice it lengthwise around the pit, twist it open and then scoop from the skin. Then, layer cubed or sliced avocado on chili, salads, tacos and burgers or add it to quesadillas, 7-layer dip and deviled eggs. Mash it and spread on toast, stir into egg salad, or make the all-time favorite – guacamole. You can even add it to smoothies! Check out the recipe below for an Avocado Bliss Smoothie Bowl. With 10 grams of fiber, 6 grams of protein and healthful fats, this smoothie bowl will keep you full and satisfied for hours!
Avocado Bliss Smoothie Bowl
Prep: 15 minutes plus freezing
Makes: 4 (1 cup) servings
- 2 large bananas
- 1 cup original unsweetened coconut milk
- 2 Tbsp. chia seeds
- 1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and chopped
- ½ cup loosely packed baby spinach
- ½ cup unsweetened pineapple juice
- 1 Tbsp. honey
- 1 kiwi, peeled, quartered and sliced
- ½ cup fresh or frozen raspberries
- ¼ cup granola
- ¼ cup chopped walnuts, toasted
- Slice and freeze 1 banana.
- In a glass, stir coconut milk and chia seeds; let stand 10 minutes.
- In a blender, purée avocado, spinach, pineapple juice, honey, frozen banana and coconut milk mixture.
- Slice remaining banana.
- Pour smoothie mixture into 4 serving bowls; evenly top with kiwi, raspberries, granola, walnuts and sliced banana.
- For 1 serving, simply refrigerate leftover smoothie mixture and use within a day.
Approximate nutritional values per serving: 291 Calories, 14g Fat (3g Saturated), 0mg Cholesterol, 20mg Sodium, 40g Carbohydrates, 10g Fiber, 6g Protein