Although it is often mistaken for a vegetable, the avocado is a fruit –
the reproductive part of the plant. The rich, buttery flavor and smooth
texture of an avocado make it a complementary addition to vegetable, meat,
and pasta salads. When mashed and seasoned, it can also be served as a dip
(as in guacamole), or a sandwich spread.
The avocado contains
approximately 200 calories in a 4-oz (115-g) serving, and it has more fat
and calories than any other fruit.
However, because most of the fat in avocados is monounsaturated, it does
not tend to elevate blood cholesterol levels, unlike the saturated oil that
comes from palms and a number of other tropical plants.
When served as
part of an otherwise low-fat meal or snack, an avocado contributes a number
of important nutrients. Four ounces (115 g), about one-half of a medium-size
fruit, provides 500 mg of potassium and more than 16 percent of the
Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of folate; it also supplies 10 percent
or more of the RDAs for iron, vitamins C, E, and B6. Avocados are also rich
in two phytochemicals: beta-sitosterol, an important phytochemical linked
with lower cholesterol levels; and glutathione, an antioxidant that may
offer protection against several cancers.
Avocados should be served raw;
they have a bitter taste when cooked. But they can be added to hot dishes
that have already been cooked – for example, tossed with a spicy pasta sauce
or sliced atop a broiled chicken breast.
An Avocado Primer
Avocados are rich in monounsaturated oil, the same heart-friendly fat found
in olive oil, and have more soluble fiber than any other fruit.
are spilling over in a plant sterol called beta-sitosterol, which helps
prevent cholesterol from being absorbed through the intestines.
medium-size (8-oz/230-g) California avocado contains about 30 g of fat –
almost twice as much as its Florida cousin – and more calories than any other
• The avocado is popularly known as the alligator pear because of
the shape and rough skin of its most common variety. Other types are larger
in size, and range in color from dark green to crimson.
• Avocados start
to ripen only after being cut from the tree. Mature fruit can be left on the
tree for 6 months without spoiling. Once picked, it will ripen in a few
• Avocados have more protein than any other fruit – approximately 2
g in a 4-oz (115-g) serving.