July 5, 2012

California Avocados: The Green Alternative

By Nikki Putnam R.D., L.D.N.
Hy-Vee Registered Dietician
(309) 292-7494

Looking for that perfect summer treat that tastes good and is good for you? Well, look no further than the produce aisle, where you’ll find a nutritious and delicious fruit that is perfect for a variety of summer dishes. Whether you are in need of a dip, garnish, topping or condiment, the California avocado is the ideal solution!

Grown in San Diego County, California, which is also known as the nation’s avocado capital, avocados provide an array of important nutrients like monounsaturated fat, vitamin E, potassium and magnesium, all of which help to keep metabolism and energy levels in full force. Avocados are naturally sodium- and cholesterol-free and can be a healthful addition to your diet. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 recommends that Americans consume less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fat by replacing them with various sources of unsaturated fat. A California avocado’s fat content is seventy-five percent unsaturated fat; therefore it makes a great substitute for foods high in saturated fat.

California avocados are available all year round, but their peak season is spring through fall. A good strategy for buying avocados is to select ones that are unbruised and still a bit green and firm and allow them to ripen at home. To ripen an avocado, it should be kept at room temperature, and storing it in a brown paper bag with an apple or banana will shorten the ripening time.

Whether they are mashed, sliced or diced, avocados can be a great addition to or substitute in some of your favorite foods. Avocados can be used as slices in sandwiches or as a garnish for omelets, tacos and salads. They can also be a great alternative to some of the more traditional condiments, which tend to be higher in saturated fat or sodium. Like other traditional condiments, avocados are rich and smooth, soft and spreadable, and have a mild, pleasing flavor that gives them a similar taste and texture. Use avocados on top of your favorite salad, sandwich or burger in place of condiments like dressings, mayo and ketchup.

So next time you make your favorite deli sandwich or grill that delicious burger, consider going green by using a California avocado, which will add a healthy twist to some of your favorite foods.