Five Top Tips on Avocados

Do you want to learn more about Avocados?

Everybody loves avocados right?  Well, maybe not everyone, but after watching this you may have an appreciation of why so many people love avocados.  Did you know that there are over 115 different named varieties of avocado (1) and thousands of varieties in total?  Or that it takes and one fruit at least 12 months to grow?

TOP TIP # 1 - How to select an avocado

The best way to choose a ripe avocado, is to gently squeeze the fruit in the palm of your hand (not your fingers) and it should be firm, but yield to the pressure.  If there are softer portions or dents, this could indicate bruising from transportation or other shoppers fingers squeezing the fruit, so grab another.  Colour is not always best indicator, as some turn darker as they ripen, and others turn greener.  Avocados are shipped with the stalk still in the end to stop bacteria entering the exposed portion of the fruit and spoiling it, but it is usually removed before sale.

TOP TIP # 2 - How to ripen an avocado

There are 5 stages to the ripening process (2); 

Stage 1 – Hard (not ready to eat)

Stage 2 - Pre-conditioned (ready in 3 days if held at room temperature)

Stage 3 – Breaking (pre-ripened, slight give to the fruit, ready to eat in 2 days if held at room temperature)

Stage 4 - Firm ripe, pre-ripened, yields to gentle pressure, good for slicing, fully ripe in a day if held at room temperature)

Stage 5 – Ripe (easily yields to gentle pressure, good for all uses, will remain in this condition 2-3 days if held at room temperature – or store in the fridge, now).  

To speed up the ripening of avocados, place the fruit in a plain brown paper bag, and store at room temperature (about 20 degrees Celsius).  Include an apple (red delicious) or kiwifruit in the bag, and the natural ethylene gas given off by the fruit, will help ripen the avocados organically (2).  Once ripe, avocados can be stored in the fridge (this will slow down ripening) until they are ready to eat - but only for about another 2 days. Don’t try to ripen avocados in the microwave as the skin may soften but it won’t ripen the flesh. 

TOP TIP # 3 - How to prepare an avocado

Wash before cutting.  This is a step often missed when preparing avocado.  All fruits and vegetables should be washed before you prepare them (3), regardless of whether the peel is edible or not.  With an avocado you cut through the skin and the knife will go through the flesh.  There can be a lot of bacteria on the skin, from multiple sources  such as; many people touching the fruit with unclean hands, cross contamination from other food sources or unclean preparation surfaces, so give it a clean before cutting.  To make perfect slices, cut the ripe avocado in half length-wise around the seed, then rotate ¼ turn and repeat so you have made four ¼ avocado segments. Simply hold and twist each segment off the seed, then peel from the tip, (like a banana), the peel off the slice.

TOP TIP # 4 - How to store an avocado

Once an avocado is ripe you need to cut the fruit, add about 1 Tbsp. lemon or lime juice or white vinegar for every two avocados, and place in air-tight container; which will stop it turning brown.  If it turns brown (due to oxidation process), just skim off the brown section, to remove the top layer.  Pureed avocado stores very well and can be used in salads, sandwiches and dips.  Seal in airtight containers or plastic bags, leaving some space for expansion during freezing.  Freeze and use within 4 – 5 months.

TOP TIP # 5 - Nutritional analysis of an avocado

Avocados are heart healthy and energy dense, due to its high fat content and healthy nutrients inside.  Just 1/3 or (50 g) of a medium avocado contains about 80 calories, 4 g carbohydrate, 8 g fat and 1 g protein (2).  It has to be noted that the 4 g of carbohydrate is mostly made up from 3 g of fibre, so very little natural sugars in an avocado.  The main type of fat found in avocados is monounsaturated (healthy) fats (5 g per serve), and the smaller amounts of some polyunsaturated fats (1 g) namely omegas (omega 3, 6 and 9) .  These healthy fats help promote healthy blood lipid profiles and enhance the bio-availability of fat soluble vitamins and phytochemicals from the avocado (4), and may help with reducing the risk of metabolic syndrome (5). The main vitamins and minerals found in avocados are, Vitamin C (4 mg), Vitamin E (1 mg), Vitamin K (11 mcg) and (Folate 45 mcg).  This means avocados are high in antioxidants and good for your skin, hair and nails and heart health.  A perfect food or snack.  

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Megabite Guacamole

The cream cheese added to the guacamole gives a creamy, subtle flavour to this delicious dip.

Serves 8 (dipping)

Ingredients

4 large avocados

4 Tbsp. cream cheese (or sour cream)

4 limes (juiced – about 2 Tbsp. juice)

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. black pepper, freshly ground

1 small red onion

2 medium firm tomatoes

2 tsp. finely chopped parsley

Instructions

Peel and seed the 4 avocadoes and place in bowl – use a fork to mash until smooth.

Add the cream cheese and mix until smooth.  Add the juice from limes (about 2 Tbsp.), salt and pepper,  mix.

Finely chop up the red onion, tomatoes and parsley.  Add to the guacamole, stir gently until just combined. Serve with fresh cucumber sticks, carrot sticks, celery or pita chips.

Nutritional analysis (per serve) 150 g

228 kcals

7 g carbs

19 g fat

3 g protein

 

Some other ideas for guacamole ingredients;

Cumin, coriander, roasted pumpkin, corn, sweet chili, chilies, spring onions, peppers

References

1.       http://ucavo.ucr.edu/AvocadoVarieties/VarietyFrame.html

2.       https://www.californiaavocado.com/nutrition/nutrients

3.       https://www.eatright.org/homefoodsafety/four-steps/wash/should-you-wash-all-food

4.      Dreher, M. L., & Davenport, A. J. (2013). Hass avocado composition and potential health effects. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition, 53(7), 738-750.

5.      Fulgoni, V. L., Dreher, M., & Davenport, A. J. (2013). Avocado consumption is associated with better diet quality and nutrient intake, and lower metabolic syndrome risk in US adults: results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001–2008. Nutrition journal, 12(1),1.

Please email  rachel@megabitenutrition.com for any nutrition topics you would like to learn about.

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