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Dietitian Learns to Love Avocados

Dietitian Learns to Love Avocados

by Yijin Liang, MS, RD/LD

I remember the first time I laid my eyes on an avocado. Growing up in China, I had never seen such a thing in the supermarket. The leathery skin and vibrant green flesh made them look like fruits of an alien planet. When my mother bought them for the first time in the U.S., I thoroughly questioned her judgment. Then, she proceeded to tell me its name in Chinese that directly translates to “alligator pear.” It is quite fitting of a name, although it did make my ten-year-old self hesitate more on trying the intimidating fruit.

My mother ignored my weary facial expression as she whipped up an avocado smoothie, a recipe that she had learned from her Vietnamese friend. She poured a cup for her and one for me.

“Are you sure this is edib-,” I asked before she cut me off.

“Just try it.”

I took a sip and another one, and eventually I finished the whole cup. The texture of avocado is superb in a smoothie. It provides a silky mouthfeel and adds a whole new level of richness. I thought this was the peak of avocado. Can it get any better than this? Then I tried guacamole for the first time and it absolutely rocked my world.

It seems that many people share the same sentiment for avocado as me, because a holiday was created to celebrate the beloved fruit. National Avocado Day falls on July 31st and is an entirely valid reason to add more avocados to your diet this month.

Avocados contain monounsaturated fats, the same kind that is found in olive and canola oil. Monounsaturated fats have been linked with reduced inflammation. These healthy fats also aid in increasing HDL or the “good” cholesterol in your body. HDL cholesterol protects against heart disease, so the more the merrier. Substituting saturated fats, such as butter or lard, with monounsaturated fats may help reduce LDL or the “bad” cholesterol that can clog your blood vessels. The fat in avocados also has a high smoke point, making it an ideal cooking oil.

Avocados are packed with various vitamins and minerals, such as B-vitamins, vitamins A, C, E, and K, potassium, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc. It might also surprise you to know that avocados are a good source of dietary fiber. A half cup of avocado contains 5 g of fiber.

Now that I have convinced you to join the avocado fan club, here are some fun and easy ways to incorporate avocados into your everyday life. You can add them to any smoothie for a velvety texture. If you want a brunch that does not cost an arm and a leg, mash up an avocado. Spread it on top of a slice of crusty bread. Place an over easy egg on top. Sprinkle on some red pepper flakes, and now you have an Instagram-worthy avocado toast. If you are looking to add some creaminess to your sandwich or burger but hate the taste of mayonnaise, try layering on slices of avocado. Looking for something to satisfy your chocolate cravings? Mash half of a banana with fourth of an avocado. Add a couple teaspoons of cocoa powder and a drizzle of maple syrup. Bam! You have created a creamy and dreamy chocolate pudding.

The possibilities are endless with the use of avocados. I hope you give these little recipes a go at home and come up with your own creative ways of integrating avocados in to your everyday diet.