I laugh when I remember what George Burns, in his role as God in a 1997 film, said about avocados. “Made the pits too big.”
Probably not a mistake at all, say those who muse on such things. Native avocado trees in South America had to compete with larger trees for sunshine. The large pit supplied extra nutrients needed by a seedling to reach a height where it could be nourished by the sun.
Here’s some other fun facts about avocados:
One of the most popular varieties is the Hass (rhymes with “pass”) avocado. It is named for a California mailman Rudolph Hass who planted a seedling in his yard and gave it his last name.
Biologically, avocados are fruits, or more specifically, single seeded berries, says the Hass Avocado Board. Nutritionally, however, they are classified as healthful sources of fat. That’s because they are a good source of monounsaturated fat — the same type found in nuts, olive and canola oils. One-third of a medium avocado has about the same amount of fat as 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil.
Avocados are also deemed “nutrient dense” which means they supply a boatload of nutrients for the calories we invest in them, says the California Avocado Commission www.californiaavocados.com. One serving — defined as 1/3 of a medium avocado — supplies 80 calories, numerous B-vitamins, potassium, magnesium and dietary fiber.
How to pick a good avocado? Hold it in your palm and gently squeeze. If it yields to pressure, it is ripe and ready to eat. If not, it will be ripe in 2 to 3 days, says the Hass Avocado Board. Avoid fruit with large indentations; that means it has been bruised and is probably not good.
Need to hold a ready-to-eat avocado for a day or two? Place it whole in the refrigerator; it should last for 2 to 3 days.
How to prepare this healthful fruit? Wash your hands. Rinse the avocado with cool water. Hold it vertically on a cutting board and — starting at the narrower end — slice across the center lengthwise and around the seed. Then twist the two halves apart. Remove the seed with a spoon or cut the avocado into quarters and remove the seed by hand. Cut the halves into wedges and gently peel off the skin.
OK, so what if I stick to the recommended 1/3 avocado serving size and need to save the rest for another day? Sprinkle the cut avocado with lemon or lime juice and store in the fridge in an airtight container or tightly covered with plastic wrap, say avocado experts.
Find a host of dietitian-approved recipes using avocados at www.californiaavocados.com and www.loveonetoday.com.
Barbara Quinn is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator affiliated with Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula in California. She is the author of “Quinn-Essential Nutrition” (Westbow Press, 2015). Email her at to firstname.lastname@example.org.