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AvocadosAvocados

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.

Avocados are spilling over in a plant sterol called beta-sitosterol, which helps prevent cholesterol from being absorbed through the intestines.

A 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 fruit.

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 days.

Avocados have more protein than any other fruit approximately 2 g in a 4-oz (115-g) serving.

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