How Healthy Is the Avocado?

The avocado's rep is that of a somewhat decadent vegetable, but it's actually a vitamin-packed fruit. This delight is rich in 25 essential nutrients including fiber, potassium, vitamin E, B-vitamins and folic acid. And while the 30 grams of fat packed into each avocado scares some dieters away, research has shown that not only is the fat 'good' monounsaturated fat, but adding avocados (in moderation) to a well-rounded diet can lower your levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, both of which are related to heart disease.

As aficionados will tell you, avocados are almost as diverse and subtle as wine. Their name comes from the Spanish word aguacate, and they originated in south-central Mexico, between 5,000 and 7,000 B.C., but the first domesticated avocado seeds were found in Peru dating back to 750 B.C. Today California is the leading American avocado producer, growing 90 percent of the domestic supply.  There are eight varieties of varying consistency, size and flavor grown in the United States. The Hass, for instance, which is the leading type of California avocado, has a light green skin that turns purplish-black when it ripens and the meat is pale green with a creamy texture. The Zutano, on the other hand, is a larger variety and it has a shiny, thin, yellow-green skin that stays bright when ripened and the meat is pale green with a light flavor.

How much is too much avocado for waistline watchers? The recommended serving size is two tablespoons, or one-sixth of a medium-sized avocado, which provides 5 grams of fat and 55 calories, a much better choice on a sandwich than butter or mayonnaise, which each pack 22 grams of fat and 200 calories in a two tablespoon serving.

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