I love chips. I don’t mean the fish-and-chips kind. Well, I love those too, thick cut. But in this case I’m talking about the Sea Salt kind, the Sour Cream, Spring Onion, BBQ-flavoured, Kettle, Black Pepper, Chicken-flavoured kind. The potato, corn, kumera, tapioca, tortilla kind. “Crisps” the English call them. I find “chips” easier to say when I’m trying to rip open a packet with my teeth. Those kinds: I love much!
And I love guacamole. I usually don’t bother dipping, instead I’ll scoop up a good portion with my chip and pop it all in for a big, flavour-filled crunch. What’s fortunate for me is that the main ingredient in guacamole is avocado, a “superfood” that’s popular with health-conscious folks. Whenever I indulge in guacamole-buried-chips, I’m actually doing myself a lot of good on so many levels of association with healthy-eating.
There are in fact many kinds of avocados and their shapes range from pear to round, their colours from green to black. They can weigh between 200 grams to over one kilogram each. The most common variant available is the oval, bumpy-skinned, dark green coloured Hass avocado. This is a moderately good-sized fruit weighing in at 200-300 grams. Because of it’s high-growing yields, year-round harvesting and good shelf life, the Hass avocado is the most commercially popular avocado worldwide.
Avocados are called a “superfood” for good reason – they’re power-packed with vitamins A, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5, B6, C and K, as well as folate, potassium, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, zinc and phosphorous. They are a low-carb-high-fibre fruit with zero cholesterol and sodium. Even the fat contained in avocados is considered “healthy fat”. It’s really a wonder avocados aren’t glow-in-the-dark nuclear. Packed with so much goodness you might imagine tossing a dozen avocados into an aircraft carrier’s reactor could possibly give enough Oomph! to power it for a week.
It’s widely held by nutritionists that most of us don’t get enough potassium. The problem with potassium inadequacy is that it can result in developing an irregular heart rhythm or other electrocardiographic (ECG) abnormalities. So what could one do to ensure adequate potassium ingestion? Typically, eat bananas which are known as a high-potassium food source. Or you could do better with avocados, because they contain more potassium than bananas – 14% of the recommended dietary allowances (RDA) versus 10% in bananas. So, go bananas, but eat avocados!
Avocados may be low-carb, but they’re high-fat. In fact, avocados are one of the “fattiest” plant foods around, with nearly 80% of their caloric content coming from the fat they contain. But wait! Before you chuck that avocado in the bin, to be precise, the fat in avocados is oleic fat – a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid that’s also the main component in olive oil, and we all know olive oil is good, healthy stuff. In theory, eating more avocodas helps reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, hypertension and the risks of developing all associated diseases. Don’t go crazy with this though, because almost anything done excessively can become harmful. Besides, avocados are such a rich-tasting food that they are best enjoyed in moderation.
It’s common to see avocados sliced or diced and added to salads. There’s a good reason for this, and it’s because an avocado’s nutrients actually helps our body to better absorb the nutrients from the other vegetables in the salad. So, not only are avocados themselves nutritious, they increase the overall nutrition value of your salad, and they add an extra layer of texture and mild creamy flavour at the same time. Drizzling avocado oil over your salad or into a salsa sauce for dipping works too.
Many avocado fans believe the fruit to be packed with antioxidents that are important for sustaining the long term health of one’s eyes, and for protection against cataracts and macular degeneration, common diseases that especially affect the elderly. Adding avocados regularly to one’s diet now could very well be a smart investment towards the health of one’s eyes in future, particularly in this day and age where people are generally living longer thanks to advances in medicine, technology and better lifestyle choices.
And there are many who advocate eating avocados for weight loss. The argument is that because avocados are such a rich food, they are able to keep a person satiated for longer, thus reducing the desire to eat as often. I’ve experienced this, not because I was on any weight loss programme, but because I was just too lazy to cook or leave the house to buy food. Feeling famished just before lunch, I found an avocado and some bread in the kitchen. While waiting for two slices of bread to toast, I cut the avocado and removed the seed with a direct hack into it and a quick twist. I spooned out the flesh from one half, added a sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper and rock salt, and mashed it all up to use as a spread. I cling-wrapped the unused half and put it in the fridge. Good thing too because I felt so full after having just that, I had no desire to eat again at dinner time. So I guess this theory works for me.
Avocados are delicious when they’re ideally ripe and ready to be eaten. But how do you tell when that is? When choosing avocados, most people look for a dark green to brown colour of the skin, and they also compress the fruit in the palm of their hand with a light pressure to feel if it yields just that slightly. I’m not sure if grocers appreciate all that squeezing of their fruit though.
I prefer a more discrete, and which I think is also a more accurate way, of gauging the ideal ripeness, and thus yumminess, of the fruit. Peel off the nub of the stem on the avocado and look at the colour of the circular cavity. If you see:
- Green = under ripe
- Brown = over ripe
- Yellowish = ideal ripeness
There you have it! Now all that’s left to do is to take those avocados home and get started on all kinds of healthy-eating.