Avocados have powerful nutrients, so get your guac on tomorrow for Cinco de Mayo!
Cinco de Mayo is tomorrow, and the celebration means that we will eat more delicious avocados, mostly in the form of guacamole, than on any other day of the year.
So what is it that makes avocados so special? The avocado fruit has enjoyed a centuries old reputation as an indulgent food with a seductively creamy smooth texture. Originating in parts of ancient Mexico, Central America, and South America, the avocado was once believed to be an aphrodisiac, forbidden from young Aztec women and discouraged by parishioners. Centuries later, the avocado is as much a staple in Mexican cuisine as butter is in American cuisine.
Avocados are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and heart healthy fats. Usually thought of as a vegetable, avocados are actually a fruit rich in monounsaturated fats that may help to reduce the “bad” LDL cholesterol in the blood and raise the levels of “good” HDL cholesterol. Avocados are a good source of vitamin E, an antioxidant that protects skin from ultraviolet light, prevents damage from free radicals, and allows for efficient cell communication. Avocados are also rich in potassium, which is necessary for proper nerve and muscle function, as well as maintaining calcium levels and helping to manage blood pressure; one avocado actually has three times more potassium than one banana.
Yummy avocados are also a cancer fighting food. Avocados contain more lutein, a potent carotenoid, than any other fruit. Populations that eat foods rich in lutein seem to have low rates of prostate cancer. Lutein, also found in dark green vegetables like spinach and parsley, has been shown to protect against age related eye diseases such as macular degeneration and cataracts. Another anti-cancer component of avocados is glutathione. Populations that eat foods rich in glutathione have significantly lower rates of oral and pharyngeal cancer, however this correlation has only been found from raw food sources of glutathione, not cooked or processed. Avocados and asparagus are two of the richest natural sources of glutathione. Avocados are a healthy functional food that should be a staple in your diet, too.
When shopping, look for avocados that are hard – they should ripen with in a few days- and do not have obvious bruising or damage to the outside. If you want to enjoy the avocado the same day, look for fruit that gives when you squeeze gently. Ripe avocados are usually very dark green almost black on the outside.
So this Cinco de Mayo you have many reasons to enjoy your guacamole or however you decide to enjoy avocados.