The Awesome Avocado Nourishes the Body Inside & Out by Susan Ojanen
Originating in south-central Mexico, avocado cultivation dates as far back as 500 B.C. Today, California produces 90% of domestic avocados in a region extending from Monterey in central California to the state's southern tip of San Diego. Often thought of and used as a vegetable, avocado is a fruit, and quite an incredible one at that.
Packed with vitamins and minerals, avocado is low glycemic, low carb and high in healthy fats and fiber. This rich and creamy fruit improves digestion and heart and eye health and is a tried-and-true beauty food for skin and hair.
The high fat and fiber content make avocados a natural for soothing the digestive tract by nourishing the gut lining and relieving constipation.
Avocados are high in lutein, a carotenoid that protects the eyes, particularly against age-related macular degeneration. A clinical study published in The Journal of Nutrition concluded that the addition of avocado or avocado oil to salad or salsa enhanced carotenoid absorption.
Beta carotene and lycopene compounds within avocados nourish the skin and hair. In addition to eating the fruit, you can apply avocado oil to the body and face to heal dry, chapped skin. To improve skin tone and aging skin, prepare a conditioning facial oil by adding a few drops of carrot seed essential oil to pure avocado oil (my favorite source is edensgarden.com). Here's an excellent use for an overripe avocado: Turn it into a face or hair mask. As noted in a clinical study reported by the Journal of the American Heart Association, avocados are a nutrient-dense source of monounsaturated fatty acids that can be used in a diet to lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. The study further stated the inclusion of one Hass avocado a day demonstrated that avocados have beneficial effects on cardio-metabolic risk factors that extend beyond their heart-healthy fatty acid profile.
A simple addition of avocado slices on a hamburger has positive anti-inflammatory and vascular health effects, as reported in the journal Food & Function. But don't stop there! Avocado suits both sweet and savory dishes. Drop a few avocado chunks onto scrambled eggs just before serving, add to chicken salad, top gluten-free toast, and toss in your blender to power up a smoothie. Whip up a bowl of guacamole: Roughly mash the flesh of three avocados and mix with the diced half of a tomato; one half of a seeded, finely chopped jalapeño; 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro; a half-teaspoon minced garlic; and 2 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice; then add salt to taste. Scoop to your heart's content with your favorite gluten-free corn, rice or lentil chips or Mary's Gone Crackers®. I call avocado "a meal in a bowl." What I love best about this green dream is that it can be eaten as is—grab a spoon and dig in. And it's a packable meal anywhere you go—it even meets airline carry-on criteria! To select a perfectly ripe avocado, lightly press the outside for a slight give. Should the peel sink in when pressed, it's likely an air pocket and could indicate bruising in that spot, or if it's soft all over, the entire avocado is over-ripe. Under-ripe avocados take a couple of days to ripen on the counter and about four days if refrigerated.
Rub lemon juice or olive oil on the cut surfaces of leftover avocado, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to two days.