Friday, February 24, 2012

Holy Guacamole!

It is a strange time of year for me to craving avocados, but I am.  I am adding them to my smoothies, sandwiches, salads, and eating right from the skin these days.  Of course, there's the favorite - gaucamole.  Perhaps my appetite knows that it is heart health month and avocados are a heart healthy food.

That's right!  Maybe you heard differently?  I remember that my grandmother, who died of heart disease, was told not to eat avocados.  We know more these days.  Yes, avocados are fatty, but some fats are really good for you and you need, yes need, to eat them!  The fat in avocados is mono-unsaturated. There is a small amount of saturated fat, but not the kind that you have to worry about. The avocado can help lower cholesterol, regulate blood pressure, and protect against heart disease and stroke.  Not bad.

A study was done giving an avocado to male volunteers daily - their cholesterol numbers went down after just 1 week!  Most importantly the bad LDL went down, the HDL good cholesterol went up.  Avocados also contain beta-sitosterol which has been shown to reduce blood pressure.  They contain lutein - good for the eyes, heart, and skin.  Plus, there is fiber (it is a fruit afterall), potassium, folate, vitamin A and some carotenes - all good for immunity and cancer prevention.  That doesn't mean overdo it. Enjoy a half to whole avocado here and there, get the good fats, but don't overdo the calories.

To buy, choose the avocado that is slightly soft to the touch.  A firm avocado will be tasteless and the fruit hard rather than smooth and soft.  An overly soft avocado will have brown areas when cut open and the taste will be smokey and sour.  The 2 best ways to rid the flesh of the skin:  cut in half length-wise.  One half will come away with the pit.  Use a spoon to trace around the pit and remove.  Then you can either scoop the flesh out with your spoon or squeeze it out, pinching the skin.

My favorite guacamole recipe:
3 ripe avocados, scooped from the flesh and diced (I don't mash)
1 tomato, diced
1/3-1/2 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp dried cumin
1/4-1/3 bunch cilantro, chopped finely
1 tsp. lime juice or lemon juice

Mix and eat!

How will you enjoy your avocado this week!?

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